Hollywood Sportatorium...Remember when...

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Sporto in the News

'Burdines Friends' keep The Florida Store alive online.
WCIX employees and viewers pay tribute to former Miami TV station.

They were some of the biggest names in South Florida: Burdines. The Hollywood Sportatorium. Eastern Air Lines. WCIX TV.

And although they're gone, they haven't been forgotten.

Fans and former employees of these brands pay homage to them and reminisce through online alumni groups on Facebook, blogs and other websites. In a place like South Florida, where old buildings are razed to make way for gleaming skyscrapers andshopping centers, these online communities stand out for their ongoing connections to local icons of the past.

Suzzy Hald, who worked security at the former Hollywood Sportatorium, launched hollywoodsportatorium.com in 2012 to give fans of the concert venue a place to share memories. Browse through the website and you'll see old stage passes, posters and ticket stubs. There's a link with photos of acts like Kiss, Van Halen and Fleetwood Mac, as well as a place to leave comments.

Hald also helps run an accompanying Facebook page called "Remember the Sportatorium," which has more than 2,800 likes.

"There is such nostalgia and love for the place," said Hald, 55, of the venue fondly referred to as "The Sporto."

The 15,500-seat hangar was situated on 500 acres of undeveloped Pines Boulevard from 1970 until it closed in 1988.

"Everybody will tell you that the best times of their lives was at the Sportatorium for rock 'n' roll," added Hald, who now lives in Austin, Texas.

Like Hald, Jeff Lemlich also is a former employee who runs both a website and a Facebook page dedicated to the now-defunct independent TV news station WCIX. He worked there for 19 years in various roles, from a graphics character generator and news producer to senior writer.

"It was a huge part of my life," he said of the station, which later became the CBS-owned and -operated WFOR-TV-Ch. 4. "I started [both] as a way to reconnect with old friends, and share some really good memories."

WCIX was known for its 10 p.m. newscasts, "Tom and Jerry'' after-school cartoons and reruns of shows like "Maude" and "Barney Miller."

"We had low expectations and even lower ratings, but we had more fun than anyone else in town,'' said Lemlich, 58. 

On Saysix.blogspot.com — so named as a nod to the station's jingle, "Say Six for South Florida, Say Six!" — viewers share videos of newscasts and discuss former anchors and the station's "Night Owl Movies" show. There also are photosof the station's home, a round five-story building that was on Brickell Avenue in downtown Miami.

"Nostalgia is a powerful thing," said Ken McAdams, one of almost 250 members of the "Say Six!" WCIX Facebook group. The Weston resident worked as a studio camera operator and an assistant director at the station. He is now a director at WTVJ-Ch. 6 in Miramar.

"For a lot of us, it was our first job in television. I remember coming in as an intern and being blown away at the chance to work the teleprompter for [host] Chuck Zink," added McAdams. "I visit this page to remember those days and see the familiar names and faces I started my career with."      

A Facebook community pagefor Eastern Air Lines (or EAL, as some prefer to call it) has almost 5,000 likes. The page's description reads: "Fans of this classic Airline from 1926-1991." The company, headquartered at Miami International Airport, was one of the largest U.S. domestic carriers and one of the biggest employers in Miami-Dade County.

A new company, the Miami-based Eastern Air Lines Group Inc., bought the intellectual properties of the former airline brand and is in the process of resurrecting it. Yet people continue to post vintage photos and videos of the former fleet's white, silver and blue planes departing or landing.

The Facebook page also features ads that harken back to when airline travel was seen as more luxurious.

"Point your toes south, come fly with Eastern," a narrator says in one black-and-white 1960s commercial about Eastern flights to Miami on the Facebook page.

"Burdines Friends" is a Facebook group made up of more than 100 former employees and fans of what was once called "The Florida Store." The 109-year-old Burdines name was dropped in 2005 when parent company Federated Department Stores Inc. folded the chain under the Macy's brand.

"Everybody started to float away and go to different jobs and having this group brought us back together," said former Burdines employee Shawna Serig Kelsch. "It's wonderful. It's another way for all of us to re-engage with each other."

Posts reminisce about the department store chain's well-known Royal Palm Restaurants, tea rooms and vintage ads.

"There is so much history to record,'' commented Maria Enza Finamore on the "Burdines Friends" Facebook page. The Hollywood resident is a former Burdines employee. "We were and are a family."

Indeed, the Internet is like a graveyard of former South Florida businesses with active community groups. Search on Facebook alone and you find pages related to the Miami Pop Festival, Pan American Airways, and nightclubs including Button South in Hallandale Beach and The Copa in Fort Lauderdale.

"Social media just makes it so much easier to find others who share a similar fondness for something from the past, or to build that community of people with a shared interest," said Kimberly Taylor, an associate marketing professor at Florida International University. "As we become disconnected from people in person, these sorts of groups do give a sense of connectedness — both to the remembered place and to other people."

Staff researcher Barbara Hijek contributed to this report.

johnnydiaz@sunsentinel.com or 954-356-4939

Copyright © 2015, Sun Sentinel Permission for use granted by Johnny Diaz reporter for the Sun Sentinel

Broward County Cultural Division E-News post October 31, 2014

Sex, drugs and the Sportatorium

Twenty-five years after its final concert, the Hollywood Sportatorium rocks on in the minds that were blown there

By Jake Cline, SouthFlorida.com Sun Sentinel  jcline@southflorida.com

3:14 p.m. EDT, October 11, 2013

At the Willie Nelson concert, they searched my brother Josh for drugs. They frisked him, lifted his cowboy hat from his head, ran a finger around the band, and ruffled his hair, as if he were hiding quaaludes within his corn-blond locks.

Lucky for Josh, he wasn't holding that night. He was 8 years old.

The year was 1982, and my parents had decided to take me, Josh and my youngest brother, Joe, to our first arena concert. It was a big deal. In our house, god had red pigtails, hailed from Texas, was best friends with Waylon Jennings and smoked a tremendous amount of marijuana. But to me, the man who was playing that night was only slightly more important than the venue: the Hollywood Sportatorium, a concrete hangar on 500 acres of a then-undeveloped stretch of Pines Boulevard. With its churchy roof, prisonlike walls and highway-motel landscaping, the place looked as if it had been designed on a cocktail napkin by an architect who'd lost a bar bet. A lyric little bandbox of a concert venue it was not.

But no one went to the Hollywood Sportatorium to admire its architecture, and even at 10 years old, I'd already heard enough sordid, shocking tales about the place for it to have acquired near-mythological status.

Twenty-five years after the last guitar chord was struck, the last parking-lot punch was thrown and the last joint was extinguished at the 15,500-seat Sportatorium — the Sporto, as it was affectionately known; the Vomitorium, as it was not — the place remains almost too bad to be true. "Bad" not in the awful sense — though many awful things certainly transpired there — but "bad" meaning "tough," "dangerous" and "cool."

Led Zeppelin played there. So did Pink Floyd, Thin Lizzy, the Grateful Dead, Black Sabbath, Rush, AC/DC, the Police and, six months before he died, Elvis Presley (a show my parents attended sans kids). The stories I'd heard from my teenage uncle and my stoner schoolmates made the Sportatorium sound like a modern-day Colosseum, where the gladiators were groupies, the chariots were El Caminos and the emperors went by the names David Lee Roth, Robert Plant and Geddy Lee. And, as security informed my family the night of the Willie Nelson concert, adults routinely used children to smuggle drugs into the venue.

The final concert took place at the Sportatorium on Oct. 21, 1988, and for a venue known for hosting the most louche rock 'n' roll acts of the age, it went out not with the bang of Alex Van Halen's gong, but with the high-lonesome whimper of the Desert Rose Band, a post-Byrds country act led by the singer-guitarist Chris Hillman. Bulldozers and wrecking balls finished it off five years later.

"It was the best place to be, and it was the worst place to be," says Scott Benarde, the Sun Sentinel's rock critic from 1982 to 1987. "There was something about the nature of that place — its location, its vibe — that made it a great place for rock 'n' roll. But at the same time, it was lawless. I mean, even the security guards were getting stoned."

Benarde, now communications director for the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, was on hand for some of the Sportatorium's most-notorious concerts. He was there on June 30, 1985, when rain poured through the venue's long-deteriorating roof, forcing Robert Plant to cancel that evening's concert and giving him cause to quip at the makeup show: "This is the first gig I've ever done that was rained out inside the building." Benarde saw Madonna deliver a "terrible" performance on May 11, 1985. His review said the show featured "enough smoke to cure a ton of salmon for a year."

Worse than the Madonna episode, worse even than the Def Leppard concert in 1987 that another music critic described as "nothing but a big joke," was what happened to Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band on Feb. 20, 1981. Touring to promote "The River" album, Springsteen was four songs into his set when the Sportatorium audience revealed itself to him in all its glory.

"He's playing 'Independence Day,' " Benarde recalls. "It's not about the Fourth of July. It's about a relationship with his family. This is a very quiet ballad, a quiet, thoughtful, reflective song. Suddenly, there are these firecrackers going off. Springsteen stops the show and says, 'I want whoever did that to go to the box office, get their money back and never again come to one of my shows.' "

Springsteen probably wishes he'd left with the guy. Before the night was over, several fans pulled off the simultaneously repulsive and impressive act of urinating on the stage from the front row. Springsteen kept his promise to never play the Sportatorium again.

Tony Landa, a Hialeah-based musician and photographer who operates the concert-news website Dig Under Rock, ticks off the shows he saw at the Sportatorium like a mountain climber enumerating peaks he's summited: "I saw [Iron] Maiden three times. Judas Priest three times. I saw David Lee Roth a couple of times. I saw Van Halen. ZZ Top twice."

Landa, 44, wishes he could have seen more. "It wasn't just an event — it was a major event to go to a show there," he says. "You didn't want to miss a show. [With] the big rock shows, you'd go, 'Oh, damn it. I can't believe I'm going to miss that.' "

One show his friends saw but he didn't was the Rush concert on Nov. 28, 1981, when, after the Sportatorium failed to open on time, the Canadian trio's fans went berserk.

"The Rush incident is probably the most famous of all Sportatorium moments, the riot," Landa says. "Apparently, [Rush drummer] Neil Peart was late because he was watching a baseball game. They wouldn't open the doors, so people were jumping over the walls."

By the time it was over, Hollywood police reportedly had tear-gassed the crowd, the concertgoers had returned fire with rocks and bottles, and 11 officers had been injured. It wasn't the arena's first riot: A year earlier, a melee at a Ted Nugent show involved nearly 500 people and sent one police deputy to the hospital.

To be fair to the Sportatorium, South Florida was lousy with deplorable venues in the '70s and '80s. The Sunrise Musical Theatre— a 3,900-seat hall that from 1976 to 2002 hosted U2, Van Morrison, Elvis Costello, Soundgarden, the Clash and Barry Manilow (thankfully not together) — provided an intimate forum for abysmal behavior. During another Cline family outing, I had the good fortune to watch Waylon Jennings give the bird to a group of heckling teenagers, drop his guitar to the floor and stomp off the Sunrise stage, only to return to it awhile later drunker than he'd left it.

"I saw a lot of crazy [stuff] at Sunrise," Landa says, "but it was a smaller venue. I think the thing about the Sportatorium, besides that it was the ['80s], was the fact that it was so much bigger. But I also think the fact that it was kind of in the middle of nowhere, it made people a little more free."

While that freedom may have brought out the worst in some concertgoers, the performers often absorbed that energy and redirected it. Benarde still describes a U2 concert he saw at the arena in near-spiritual terms, and Landa talks about Iron Maiden's "Powerslave" and Judas Priest's "Defenders of the Faith" tours as if they were formative experiences. The celebratory Hall and Oates concert I saw at the Sporto in 1985 — listen, I was nowhere near as cool as Benarde or Landa — partly inspired me to become a music journalist. Billy Joel's cathartic, marathon set the year before almost makes me wonder why I can't stand his music today.

It would be an act of charity to say the Sportatorium was acoustically challenged. Sound ricocheted off its walls like gunfire, and the vocals were unintelligible to the point that you couldn't tell if David Lee Roth was running with the devil or rutting on an anvil. But like the air of danger that hung over the place, the obstructed-view seating, the precipitation that fell from the rafters and the Lake of Urine that formed in the post-show parking lot, the crummy dynamics were part of the Sportatorium's wicked charm.

The Sporto was special not simply because it was there, and not just because there was nowhere. For many South Floridians, the Sportatorium was the site of a first concert, a first beer, a first night out alone. For others, it was where they landed their first kiss, their first punch or their first arrest.

Money woes, mismanagement and malfeasance chipped away at the Sportatorium's lifespan almost since the day it opened in 1970 as a low-rent sports arena for fans of rodeo, boxing, motocross and professional wrestling. Developers coveted the property for years, and public officials went to bed at night praying for its demolition. The opening of the larger, more-modern Miami Arena on July 13, 1988, signaled the end for the Sportatorium, and touring acts — Robert Plant not the least among them — relished the opportunity to play a South Florida venue where fans, and Mother Nature, were less likely to pee on them.

"[The Sportatorium] is an eyesore, an antiquated, ugly, obsolete building whose time came and went a long time ago. Most people who have memories of that place probably want to forget those memories," developer Walter Hollander told the Sun Sentinel in 1992, speaking like a man who never saw Bruce Springsteen lose his cool, who never heard Motley Crue shout at the devil, who never stood on the shores of the Lake of Urine, and whose 8-year-old brother was never profiled as a drug mule.

Twenty-five years gone, the Sportatorium still rules.

 Copyright @ 2015 SouthFlorida.com

 TheRockFile March 16, 2011

 "local Rock Audiences Need Etiquette Lesson"

"Concert audiences are getting out of hand again. It's time for South Florida concertgoers to reflect a bit about concert etiquette if there is such a term for rock n' roll shows. One thing is certain, rock concerts, no matter what the variety - heavy metal, rap, punk, pop, reggae or other - are not two-hour havens for anarchy and rudeness to fellow spectators, performers or even the (Hollywood Sportatorium) concert hall." - South Florida Sun Sentinel, March 13, 1987

The Hollywood Sportatorium was South Florida's Rowdy Rock Palace in the 1970s and 80s. Every band that mattered blew through its decrepit old doorways and concrete hallways. Built in 1969 out on the edge of nowhere, the Sporto was the best place to run wild on a Saturday night in South Florida. Get a little wasted, catch your favorite band and let the weekday fade into the swampy lowlands of the untamed Florida night.

 As late as 1985, the Sportatorium was the largest indoor concert venue in the state, with a full house holding 15,500.  It was located on the outer banks of dusty old Pembroke Pines, with only a two-lane dirt road in and out. From day one the Sporto was a crumbling mess. Surrounding the parking lot was a moat, which served as communal piss pot for concert goers. It was not uncommon for a car to off-road it straight into the water while a bunch of drunk rednecks relieved some beer as nature intended.

Of course the Great Florida Southern Rock bands held court: The Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet, Outlaws, Blackfoot. It was a right of passage for a young Southern Gentleman of a certain age and intention to get hip to the scene surrounding the Sporto. If you grew up in South Florida, Southern Rock was part of your bloodline, the defining soundtrack to your wasted youth and the Sportatorium was where you wen to commune with the brotherhood.

I'm goin' back to the Gator Country where the wine and the women are free - Molly Hatchet

South Florida in the 70s was Rough & Tumble, and the Sportatorium personified the wide-open,anything goes lifestyle of its duty inhabitants. Tailgates, fireworks and general Southern Style Mayhem were natural parts of the concert experience.

The parking lot was where it all went down; pre-show brews, weed, fistfights, gate-crashing, drug busts. Just another Saturday night at the Molly Hatchet & Outlaws show. The Sporto always brought out the fringes of the longhair Muscle Car crowd. A distinctly Southern Man who rarely wore shirts, sported homemade tattoos and drank the cheapest beer possible out of some sense of Redneck American Pride. 

Can of Schlitz anyone?

Raising some hell at the Sporto was an accepted part of the ritual:

In 1980, a bunch of Ted Nugent fans rioted after cops busted some pot-smoking longhairs and threw them in a trailer. The rest of the crowd didn't think that was cool and an hour-long standoff ensued.

A 1981 Rush concert erupted in a tear-gas dust-up as Broward County's Finest tried to fight off a gate-crashing crowd of about 500. Bienvenue Canadiens!

Bruce Springsteen was so pissed at a 1981 show that he vowed never to return to the Sportatorium. Seems that some rough-necks had their own fireworks show...inside.

"all right, whoever threw those can come down to the front of the stage. We'll give you your money back and throw you the fuck our of here."

A little Ramble Tamble on the edges of the Redneck South never hurt anybody, did it?

At age 13, I went to the Hollywood Sportatorium for the first time. My first Live Rock Concert, AC/DC on the 1983 "Flick of the Switch" Tour.

Blistering loud, hell-fire blues rock from a bunch of hard-drinking bad asses from the other side of the planet. It scared me shitless, my young mind shredded by the sheer power coming off the stage. The songs were fast, the experience hot and violent. My small suburban existence was shattered and I would never be the same. 

Walking through the front gate felt like going to the rodeo, or the circus. The place reeked of stale beer, parking lot dust covered the floor. Concert T's were hanging to the left which ran about fifteen bucks. To the right was the beer stand. Schlitz on draft in a plastic cup.

A South Florida delicacy.

Through the tunnel to the seat. If your tickets were on the floor, you got a fold-out plastic chair that you stood on to get a better view of the stage. Once the concert started and the lights went down, the joints came out. In those days, they were passed the length of the row, back and forth, many times over. Poor ventilation meant a heavy fog of smoke throughout the venue and contact highs were easy to come by.

I distinctly remember pieces of the ceiling falling from the rafters, hitting me on the head. AC/DC was shaking the foundation.

Apparently Robert Plant had a similar problem on a 1986 tour. Speaking from the stage a night after postponing a gig because heavy storms wreaked havoc with the roof, Plant said incredulously "This is the first gig I've ever done that was rained out inside the building."

AC/DC destroyed the Sporto and a lot of young minds that night in 1983. The show ended with a "For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)." Canons blasting from the stage. A deafening sound synced with a flood of scorching white lights blinding the audience.

What could possibly be better than this?

After that I was hooked. The hard rock indoctrination of a young South Florid boy was complete. I went to the Sportatorium every chance I could, catching shows by Genesis, Yes, DIO, Ozzy, The Firm and countless others.

The show and spectacle that was Saturday Night at the Hollywood SPortatorium went on, but only for a few more years. The old metal barn shut its doors to concerts in 1988 and was razed to the ground in 1993.

Today a supermarket stands in the footprints of one of the rowdiest concert halls ever to host a rock show.

I wonder how much a six-pack of Schlitz goes for?

SunSentinel   LIFESTYLE
By DAVID CAZARES Staff Writer, December 4, 1993
The buzzards hover above this fallen monument, but their prey is not dead - just relegated to memory. Though it closed in October 1988, the Hollywood Sportatorium, the boisterous home of rock 'n' roll and sporting events, will never be forgotten. The seats were hard. The roof leaked. There were fights out in the parking lot, and fights in the stands and sometimes on the way out, too. It was, admits one its most devoted fans, "a dump." But the Sportatorium was where many of its former patrons made friendships, celebrated marriage, were injured or arrested.

By Scott Benarde, Staff Writer, July 1, 1985

Nearly 10,000 concert fans were turned away from the Hollywood Sportatorium Sunday night when entertainer Robert Plant refused to perform on a rain-soaked stage caused by leaks in the auditorium`s roof. Tonight`s concert remains tentative pending an inspection of the auditorium by Plant. He will then decide whether the stage and lighting areas are safe for his band and crew. Saying the leaking roof had splattered the performance area and the lighting tresses making it unsafe for his technical people and band members, Plant called radio station WSHE after a 6:15 p.m. inspection and canceled the 8 p.m. show.

Courtesy Sun Sentinel

Springsteen vos never to play the Sporto again!
Courtesy Don Lawson

Broward News Nov 30 1981
Courtesy Jim Van riper

Never made it to the Major League Concerts Ruled
Courtesy Ben Schertzer

Development Root Of Traffic Problem

June 21, 2001

I had to crack up at one of the stories that made the front page June 6. It stated that Pembroke Pines is all worried about the amount of traffic that piles up near Interstate 75 and Pines Boulevard. I lived in Pines for 30 years and used to work at the Hollywood Sportatorium (remember that place?). It took me 10 minutes tops to get from University Drive to 166th Avenue and Pines Boulevard. It now will take at least a half an hour. Why? Ever since all that land out there was incorporated by the city of Pembroke Pines, the geniuses that run the developmental departments have done nothing but build, build and build some more.


Rock And A

By DAVID CAZARES Staff Writer, December 4, 1993

The buzzards hover above this fallen monument, but their prey is not dead - just relegated to memory. Though it closed in October 1988, the Hollywood Sportatorium, the boisterous home of rock 'n' roll and sporting events, will never be forgotten. The seats were hard. The roof leaked. There were fights out in the parking lot, and fights in the stands and sometimes on the way out, too. It was, admits one its most devoted fans, "a dump." But the Sportatorium was where many of its former patrons made friendships, celebrated marriage, were injured or arrested.



Developer Proposes To Build Homes Next To Sportatorium

By DONNA PAZDERA, Staff Writer, July 7, 1992

PEMBROKE PINES -- A West Palm Beach developer wants to build 1,759 homes next to the Hollywood Sportatorium. The Glassman Co., which has handled projects such as Sun Valley in Boynton Beach, is proposing a similar development on 587 acres east of the closed Sportatorium arena, according to plans filed with Pembroke Pines. The project, called Spring Valley, will offer mainly single-family homes and some multifamily homes, according to the plans. A 35-acre community park is also planned for the neighborhood.


Land-use Changes Ok`d

Staff reports, April 9, 1992

The County Commission on Wednesday approved changes to the county land-use plan that could add more than 2,100 homes plus shops and industry to rapidly growing southwest Broward. The commission largely followed the recommendations of the county`s Planning Council, which last week approved a handful of plans but delayed many more because developers had not provided enough information to regulators. Among the changes approved on Wednesday was a plan to allow 1,260 homes and a small shopping center on the site of the Hollywood Sportatorium on Pines Boulevard.



Bulldozers Auctioned

Staff reports, January 31, 1992

PEMBROKE PINES -- Battle lines of bulldozers wait outside the Hollywood Sportatorium - the abandoned rock concert mecca that has fallen into decay and is headed for demolition. The gleaming machines, however, are ready for auction - not action. Forke Brothers, of Lincoln, Neb., is selling more than 140 tractors and other construction equipment in an auction to be held on arena grounds from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. today. Nearly 500 contractors are expected to bid on used equipment worth between $1,000 and $100,000 at the auction, one of dozens held across the nation each month.





Developer Proposes To Build Homes Next To Sportatorium

By DONNA PAZDERA, Staff Writer, July 7, 1992

PEMBROKE PINES -- A West Palm Beach developer wants to build 1,759 homes next to the Hollywood Sportatorium. The Glassman Co., which has handled projects such as Sun Valley in Boynton Beach, is proposing a similar development on 587 acres east of the closed Sportatorium arena, according to plans filed with Pembroke Pines. The project, called Spring Valley, will offer mainly single-family homes and some multifamily homes, according to the plans. A 35-acre community park is also planned for the neighborhood.


Sportatorium Quiet, Still Awaiting Sale Potential Buyers Propose Variety Of Uses

By JOE KOLLIN, Staff Writer, January 22, 1990

PEMBROKE PINES -- On a clear night, you can almost hear the echoes of rock- and-roll music that once filled the Hollywood Sportatorium. Images of the past still haunt the Sportatorium, a place where Bruce Springsteen sang, motorcycles raced, and police lobbed tear gas at mobs of unruly teen-agers. Now an empty hulk, the Sportatorium boasts a history that was not exactly glorious -- and a future that is not entirely clear. The 15,532-seat auditorium -- once so rowdy that parents would forbid their children to attend concerts there -- closed forever in October 1988.



Owner Claims Big Cat

Staff reports, August 23, 1989

PEMBROKE PINES -- An earthmover, abandoned six weeks ago in a parking lot at the former Hollywood Sportatorium, was claimed by its owner on Tuesday, city Code Enforcement Director Harry Hetler said. The huge Caterpillar was moved by the owner, Eagle Site Contractors of Tamarac. Company workers apparently were taking the machine to a construction site near the Sportatorium, found the gate to their site locked and left the machine, Hetler said. Officials from the firm could not be located on Tuesday for comment.





Sportatorium Buyer Found

Staff reports, March 23, 1989

PEMBROKE PINES -- The Hollywood Sportatorium`s owner apparently has found a buyer, Mayor Charles W. Flanagan said on Wednesday. Flanagan said the owner told him there is a tentative deal with an undisclosed buyer who wants to demolish the arena and build homes on the 480- acre site. The buyer may consider giving the Sportatorium to the city in lieu of fees, Flanagan said. A city ordinance requires developers to give the city 6 percent of their total land area, or the equivalent in cash or services, for parks and recreation.


Pines Panel Oks Change

Staff reports, March 10, 1989

PEMBROKE PINES -- Without objection from the public, the Planning and Zoning Board on Thursday recommended a change in the city code that would prevent the Hollywood Sportatorium from being used as a jail or correctional institution. The City Commission may consider the recommendation on Wednesday. The board last month agreed to the change but delayed forwarding the recommendation to the City Commission until the public had the chance to comment. When no one objected, the planners voted 5-0 to recommend the change



Pines Board Moves To Block Jail Plan Change In Zoning Law Would Prevent Housing Inmates In Sportatorium

By JOE KOLLIN, Staff Writer, February 10, 1989

PEMBROKE PINES -- In a move designed to prevent the Hollywood Sportatorium from being used as a jail, the Planning and Zoning Board on Thursday recommended a change in the city`s zoning laws to prohibit "penal or correctional institutions" on agriculturally zoned land. The 15,532-seat Sportatorium is on agriculturally zoned land. "This change won`t allow the Sportatorium to be used as a jail facility," City Planner Mike Scott said. Broward County Sheriff Nick Navarro`s office last week said it wanted to use the Sportatorium as a jail, but protests from Pembroke Pines Mayor Charles W. Flanagan caused the Sheriff`s Office to back down.


Sportatorium Still Lives

By DEBORAH WILKER, Pop Music Writer, October 28, 1988

Don`t nail the coffin shut on the Hollywood Sportatorium just yet. All that bandwagon publicity last week about "the last concert ever at the Sporto" may not have been entirely accurate after all. While the Sportatorium is indeed "closed" now -- it may not be closed forever. Until the building is sold or bulldozed, there seems to be little reason why a concert promoter or event organizer could not present a show there in the future. Essentially, the Hollywood Sportatorium has become an inactive venue, but that doesn`t mean it can`t be rented as long as the structure and its surroundings are intact.


Concerts For Arena Announced Stadium To Debut With Julio Iglesias

By DEBORAH WILKER, Music Writer, June 3, 1988

MIAMI -- The $52.5 million Miami Arena will open for business on July 13 with a Julio Iglesias concert, and be followed in weeks to come with chart- topping recording stars such as Tiffany, Earth, Wind and Fire and Robert Plant, arena officials announced on Thursday. The new arena -- built to house the NBA expansion team, The Miami Heat -- also will be host for The Ice Capades, Sesame Street Live, The Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus and World Wrestling Federation matches. Other events on the schedule include University of Miami basketball, shows by hard-rock groups Iron Maiden and AC/DC and rap singers Salt-N-Pepa.


Lynyrd Skynyrd Concert Moved

By DEBORAH WILKER, Staff Writer, May 25, 1988

Sunday`s Lynyrd Skynyrd concert, which originally was to be held at 1 p.m. in Miami Baseball Stadium, has been rescheduled for 7 p.m. at Hollywood Sportatorium. The lineup for the concert also has been changed. Originally, the outdoor show was to feature Skynyrd, The Rossington Band, The Georgia Satellites, Loverboy and Witness. But early this week, Loverboy canceled and Witness was dropped from the bill. Fantasma Productions, presenter of the show, said the decision to move the concert indoors was made after Loverboy`s sudden cancellation


Metal Band Nothing But A Big Joke

By DEBORAH WILKER, Music Writer, December 31, 1987

Call it what you will: heavy metal, lite metal, hard rock, whatever. The basic fact is that somewhere under all the hair, makeup, foolish preening and ear-splitting volume, there must be guitar-driven music. That`s how it was when pioneers such as Led Zeppelin played, and no more evidence is needed than Tuesday`s Def Leppard concert to prove that the quality of heavy metal has now fallen to its lowest point. A more apt label for the display put on by Def Leppard and similar groups is "joke metal."


Leppard Tickets On Sale

Staff report, November 20, 1987

Tickets go on sale at 4 p.m. today for the Def Leppard concert Dec. 29 at the Hollywood Sportatorium. A pop-oriented heavy-metal band from England, Def Leppard has a new album, Hysteria, listed at No. 6 on the Billboard charts. A single from that album, Animal, is at No. 36. The opening act for the 8 p.m. show is Tesla, another heavy-metal band. The show is being produced by Cellar Door Concerts. Tickets are available at all BASS outlets for $16.50 each, plus a $1.50 service charge. Call 741-3000 (Broward)



Pasture Offered For Horse Ranch


By DAVID WALLACE, Staff Writer, September 2, 1987

SUNRISE -- It came down to the wire, but the FRIENDS Ranch got serious offers of pasture land for its horses afflicted with swamp fever. And while negotiations continue on where to place the 95 horses, AmeriFirst Development Corp. has given the ranch 30 days to move. One parcel of 160 acres is west of the Hollywood Sportatorium near Interstate 75 and Hollywood Boulevard. Another property consists of about 130 acres near Southwest 172nd Avenue between Griffin and Stirling roads. "The first property is available but it would have to be cleared and fenced," said Don Terrell, vice president of FRIENDS.

Wrestlers Plan Anti-drug Show For Teens

November 15, 1987

Professional wrestlers will bring an anti-drug theme to the ring in a show scheduled for Saturday at the Hollywood Sportatorium on West Broward Boulevard in Pembroke Pines. Wrestling brothers Kerry and Kevin Von Erich of Dallas will discuss this year`s death of their brother, Mike, by a drug overdose, said sponsor Teresa Denton of Pembroke Pines. "They will say what he did was wrong because he could have turned to his family for help," Denton said. The program is aimed at persuading youngsters and teen-agers to either give up drugs, or not use them in the f irst place.


Rebel Rocker Billy Idol Proves He`s Back

By JUAN CARLOS COTO, Staff Writer, July 28, 1987

Keeping his image of the rebel rocker alive, Billy Idol did what most performers would shy away from -- he opened his Sunday night show at the Hollywood Sportatorium with one of his biggest hits, Dancing With Myself. Some performers would have peaked too soon with a chart-topper at the head of the show, but Idol and his band proved that they had the talent -- and a catalog of recognizable hits -- to keep everyone on their feet through the entire show. The crowd of 10,000 screaming fans immediately responded to guitarist Steve Stevens` opening groove from the tune, taking the chance to dance with each other.


Pines Board Moves To Block Jail Plan Change In Zoning Law Would Prevent Housing Inmates In Sportatorium

By JOE KOLLIN, Staff Writer, February 10, 1989

PEMBROKE PINES -- In a move designed to prevent the Hollywood Sportatorium from being used as a jail, the Planning and Zoning Board on Thursday recommended a change in the city`s zoning laws to prohibit "penal or correctional institutions" on agriculturally zoned land. The 15,532-seat Sportatorium is on agriculturally zoned land. "This change won`t allow the Sportatorium to be used as a jail facility," City Planner Mike Scott said. Broward County Sheriff Nick Navarro`s office last week said it wanted to use the Sportatorium as a jail, but protests from Pembroke Pines Mayor Charles W. Flanagan caused the Sheriff`s Office to back down.



Flash Still Yields Cash For Colorful John That Flamboyant Rock `N` Roller Who Makes Liberace Look Like A Staid Dresser Is Scheduled To Light Up The Hollywood Sportatorium Tonight.

By NICK SORTAL, Staff Writer, September 19, 1986

Even though the mere concept of marrying was just a 50-50 proposition for Elton John a few years ago, a matrimonial tradition best describes his life now. Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. Something old? Bernie Taupin, who collaborated with John on 17 of the musician`s first 20 Top 10 hits, has helped the British pop star`s second wind, which is scheduled to bring him to the Hollywood Sportatorium tonight. After six years pursuing their separate careers, the two have worked together on John`s last four albums, including Leather Jacket, which will be released in a couple of weeks.



The Album Stevie Nicks Might Not Be At Concert

By Scott Benarde, Music Writer, May 9, 1986

Sometimes what you hear is what you get. That isn`t necessarily the case with Stevie Nicks, Fleetwood Mac`s spiritual and flighty lead vocalist, who`s currently on a solo tour that brings her to the Hollywood Sportatorium Saturday night. Nicks writes catchy songs and generally makes good records. Her third and current solo album, Rock a Little, already has produced a pair of Top 20 singles -- Talk to Me, I Can`t Wait -- to go with such previous solo hits as Stand Back, If Anyone Falls, Edge of Seventeen, Leather and Lace, Stop Dragging My Heart Around.


Florida`s Music Drought Ends

By ROBYN LISA BURN, Special to the News/Sun-Sentinel, June 5, 1987

Things may be quiet now on the rock scene in South Florida, but hold on to your hats. Madonna, David Bowie, Tom Petty and U2 are on the way. Her last visit to Florida took her to the Hollywood Sportatorium, but at the end of the month Madonna has tentative plans to play the Orange Bowl with special guest Level 42. More than your average rock idol, David Bowie rocked and shocked audiences in the `70s and continues to do so today. He will be on tour this summer and has tentative plans to play here in August.


Chicago To Play Sportatorium

Staff reports, April 5, 1985

Chicago, touring on the strength of the Chicago 17, which has sold 3 million copies and is the band`s most succesful album to date, has been scheduled to play the Hollywood Sportatorium May 6. Tickets, at $16 plus service charge, go on sale at BASS outlets at 10 a.m. today (BU) The vampish Madonna, who has accomplished the rare feat of putting five songs in the Top 10 -- two simultaneously -- within a year, plays the Sportatorium May 11. Tickets, at $16 plus service charge, for her show go on sale at BASS outlets at 10 a.m. Saturday


Tina Turner Brings Class To Show At Sportatorium

By Scott Benarde, Music Writer, December 3, 1985

The humidity already had taken the best seats in the Hollywood Sportatorium when Tina Turner appeared on stage Monday night and proceeded to set the place on fire with a voice full of flint and smoke. Opening with Show Some Respect from her Private Dancer album, the 10,000 people in South Florida who did not watch the Dolphins-Bears football game showed her just that. They also showed some reverence and appreciation. Turner certainly deserved both from the mixed crowd, spanning all ages. LIFESTYLE


Aging Sportatorium Keeps On Rocking

 September 29, 1985|By Peter Aronson, Staff Writer

It has been called the ``pit-atorium,`` the ``snort-a-torium,`` an ugly shack and a rat-trap.


Drug busts and unruly crowds have marred past events.
Massive traffic jams remain a nuisance, and fans say it desperately needs renovation.


Yet the Hollywood Sportatorium, in far western Pembroke Pines,
continues to attract major rock stars and draws an average of 9,300 people a show.

The enigma is easily explained:

``It`s a five-letter word -- money,`` said Jack Boyle, president of Cellar Door Concerts Inc. of Fort Lauderdale,
promoteshttp://images.intellitxt.com/ast/adTypes/icon1.png about 15 concerts at the arena each year.

The 14,000-seat Sportatorium is the largest indoor arena in South Florida -- in fact, it`s the largest in all of Florida.

Performers -- who have included Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Presley, Neil Diamond, Kenny Rogers
and Madonna -- can reach as many fans in one night at the Sportatorium as they can in
three at Broward County`s other major concert hall, Sunrise Musical Theater.

Big crowds create media coverage, and that sells records.  ``It`s a big market, an important market; a lot
of people who buy records live there,`` said Stephen Smith, vice president of the Howard Rose Agency Ltd.
in Los Angeles, booking agent for Elton John.

Fans simply like the music.

``The Sportatorium`s got the feeling,`` said Dave Young, 18, at a recent concert by Powerhttp://images.intellitxt.com/ast/adTypes/icon1.png Station. ```It`s betterhttp://images.intellitxt.com/ast/adTypes/icon1.png than Sunrise.
 Sunrise is like goody, goody. The Sportatorium always gets the baddest bands. That`s why everyone comes here.``

Boyle said performers playing the Sportatorium can make $25,000 to $150,000 a show. He said promoters can
 make $5,000 to $10,000 a concert, although they generally make less than $5,000. 
The arena, too, can make
 $20,000 a night if 10,000 to 12,000 people attend the show, Sportatorium Manager Mike Oliver said.

But a sold-out show rarely happens, and rock `n` roll alone has not been enough to keep the arena in the black.

The Sportatorium is a subsidiary of Florida Hialeah Inc. of Orlando, which is owned by the estate of Stephen A. Calder.
 The estate has no connection with the well-known Calder Race Course in North Dade County, but at one time
Calder was one of the owners and the track is named after him.


The executor of Calder`s estate, Hort Soper, said that the Sportatorium has not made money in the seven years
 he has been executor of the estate and that it consistently loses ``substantial`` sums of money.

Its costshttp://images.intellitxt.com/ast/adTypes/icon1.png are high. According to the Broward County Property Appraiser`s Office, the Sportatorium paid $134,584 in
 property taxes last year. More than $10,000 per concert, Oliver said, is spent on utilities and security.

And there are too few events -- only 11 concerts have been held so far this year -- to cover its annual costs.

One solutionhttp://images.intellitxt.com/ast/adTypes/icon1.png, Soper and Oliver agree, would be for the Sportatorium to house a professional sports team.

That would provide guaranteed booking for perhaps 40 dates a year and a steady stream of income.
 At one time, that was almost a reality.

The Sportatorium was built in 1969, three years after Calder and his partnerhttp://images.intellitxt.com/ast/adTypes/icon1.png, Norman Johnson, built the Miami-Hollywood Speedway
on the same site, only a few hundred yards east.

The Sportatorium, made of concrete and steel, initially had three sides of bleachers on an asphalt ground floor.

``The idea was to have a facility which could have entertainment and events out of weather,``
said Bruce Johnson,  Norman Johnson`s son.

Bruce Johnson, who managed the arena until 1980, said that concerts and some rodeo, wrestling and boxing events
 were held at the Sportatorium fairly regularly until 1975, when it was decided to try to attract a professional
sports team with a refurbished arena. 
The owners spent $4 million for renovations, including adding upstairs
seating and installing pipes under the floor to make ice.

``There`s no way this place can fail,`` Bruce Johnson said in September 1975, as the construction was nearing completion.

He appeared to be on the right track.

On June 6, 1976, Paul Snyder said he was close to selling his Buffalo Braves professional basketball team to Irving Cowan, owner of the Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood. The team would play at the Sportatorium. Pledges for more than 8,000 season tickets were received. Hollywood Mayor David R. Keating was quoted as saying, ``I think it`s just great. I`m planning now to meet (the team) at the city limits.``

A suit by the city of Buffalo, however, blocked the team`s move, and the Sportatorium was left flat.

``It was a dream of Mr. Calder,`` Soper said. ``He wanted to make it a success and have a sports team there. They sold season tickets, had a press conference and then they double-crossed him and didn`t come.``

Meanwhile, the newly renovated arena attracted major rock stars, but problems arose.

Raucous crowds were the major one

(Ya think?)


Crackdown On Drugs At Theatre Is Appropriate

August 25, 1985

A POLICE CRACKDOWN on drug abuse at Sunrise Musical Theatre should not only deter criminal activities but also protect the image and reputation of an important entertainment facility. For the harm that drug users can do to such a facility, look no further than the Hollywood Sportatorium in Pembroke Pines. Rampant drug abuse during some rock concerts, coupled with overdoses that required medical treatment and occasional fan violence, have given the Sportatorium a widespread reputation that has turned off many people to the idea of attending musical events ther.e


Fall Concert Schedule Growing

August 23, 1985

The fall pop music concert schedule is rapidly filling up. Tickets go on sale today for Sting`s Oct. 17 appearance at the Hollywood Sportatorium. Tickets, available at all BASS outlets, are $16 plus service charge. Series tickets for the Third Annual Jazz Over Miami Concert Series go on sale at BASS outlets Monday. Tickets are $52.50 for all shows. Tickets for individual shows are $14 each, but don`t go on sale until Sept. 15. The series, which takes place at the Knight Center in Miami, features Michael Franks with opening act Stanley Jordan on Oct. 4; Jean-Luc Ponty on Oct. 25.; Al DiMeola and Shadowfax on Nov. 16 and Spyro Gyra on Nov. 28. Tickets, at $14 each, go on sale today for Leon Redbone`s Sept


Power Station Gathers Steam

By Steve Tarson, Special to the Sun-Sentinel, July 11, 1985

Propelled by its hit single, Some Like It Hot, and its self-titled best- selling album, an unlikely ensemble of new wave and R&B musicians performed an electrifying and energetic concert Tuesday night at the Hollywood Sportatorium. Originally conceived as a temporary diversion in February by bassist John Taylor of the glamour rock group Duran Duran, Power Station has been gathering steam as a respectable supergroup since hitting the road to promote its debut album earlier this year. On the basis of the LP alone, the recipe for the success of Power Station`s concert was predictable: Take two displaced members of Duran Duran (bassist John and guitarist Andy Taylor)


Despite Self-indulgence, Plant`s Rock Runs Solid

By Scott Benarde, Music Writer, July 3, 1985

Robert Plant is cool. He also is a bit cocky. But most of all, as the bedsheet hanging from the balcony of the Hollywood Sportatorium Monday night said, "Robert Plant rocks." The former vocalist for the legendary band Led Zeppelin wasted no time proving that as he marched slowly out of magenta- and blue-lighted smoke, approached the edge of the stage and set the pace with I`m in the Mood, a midtempo rocker with a trancelike rhythm and vocal. Plant and a no-nonsense four-piece band mixed ballads and hard rock numbers from Plant`s three solo albums.




Rick Springfield Cooks At Steamy Sportatorium

By Scott Benarde, Music Writer, July 1, 1985

Pop singer-teen idol Rick Springfield aptly renamed the Hollywood Sportatorium "the Sweatatorium" during his energetic 1 1/2 hour show there Saturday night. The hall was hot, the small, but vocal audience was hot and for the most part Springfield was hot. Everybody joined in communal perspiration as Springfield proved he is more than just another pretty face. The rest of him is not bad either. The women around me -- several in their 30s -- pointed out that even his teeth were perfect. He is a hunk with talent.

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