The Allen County War Memorial Coliseum is a municipal department of the County of Allen, Indiana with oversight from the elected Board of Commissioners and an appointed Board of Trustees.

Allen County Indiana 1824 sealBoard of Trustees

Dennis Sutton
Mac Parker
Don Gerardot
Phil GiaQuinta
Andrew Brooks 

Mission Statement

The Mission of the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum was first defined in 1946, by a vote of the county’s taxpayers, authorizing the construction of a living memorial to the Nation’s war veterans. Implicit in that authorization was the necessity for ongoing maintenance of the building, plus the management of all business affairs relating to the facility.

To that end, the Coliseum Board of Trustees entrusts a professional management staff to: oversee a clean, safe, well-maintained physical environment and provide responsible fiscal management, aimed at maintaining the Memorial Coliseum complex as a self-supporting entity. Thus our Mission extends to the responsibility for the production of maximum income, through the promotion of a diversity of entertainment, athletic, educational, and business-related events and activities. This lively mix of building usage ensures that the county’s tribute to those who served their country is truly a “Living Memorial."

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How the Memorial Coliseum was built

The idea behind the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum began in 1944, when the Fort Wayne Junior Chamber of Commerce (now known as the Jaycees) began discussing a proposal "to undertake a project to build a field house in Fort Wayne and dedicate it as a war memorial." Then, buildings in the area were too small to house larger community functions such as sports events and concerts.

The Jaycees, and their wives, worked hard to garner public support for the project by passing out handbills door to door and distributing buttons to schoolchildren that read "We Want the War Memorial Coliseum." As the country was involved in World War II, the idea of a permanent memorial to Allen County's war heroes appealed to many residents. A county-wide referendum on the Memorial Coliseum passed, despite the $3 million price tag, which was considered a huge sum.

The Allen County commissioners started by purchasing the site - a prime piece of real estate at California Road and Parnell Avenue, near two farms, Johnny Appleseed Park and highway US 30 being constructed nearby (now Coliseum Boulevard). After securing needed financing through a bond issue, the commissioners broke ground for the project in January 1950. Upon completion in September 1952, a dedication ceremony was held, with 24 area veterans' organizations and 10,000 people attending.

Download the Historical Record of the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum

History was made in these halls

The Memorial Coliseum quickly became the site of major professional and amateur sporting events, circuses, ice skating shows, religious gatherings, political rallies, civic and school events and patriotic observances. In many ways, it reflected the heart and soul of the community through the events that it hosted.

Here's just a sampling of the events that have happened at the Memorial Coliseum:

  • The Fort Wayne Komets hockey team started playing at the Memorial Coliseum in 1952. They have won TEN championships through the years, with the most recent being the 2021 Kelly Cup from the ECHL.
  • The Zollner Pistons, Fort Wayne's first pro basketball team, had been playing in the North Side High School gym, but moved to the Memorial Coliseum in 1952. They played five seasons here before moving to Detroit in 1957.
  • The National Basketball Association (NBA) played their All-Star game at the Memorial Coliseum in 1953 to a sell-out crowd of 10,322 fans. The West team, led by three hometown Pistons, beat the East team, 79-75.
  • Hoosier Hysteria reached fever peak when high school basketball semi-state tournaments were held at the Memorial Coliseum from 1953-1998. Capacity crowds packed the seats, and many camped out hoping to get tickets.
  • Many entertainment legends have appeared at the Memorial Coliseum over the years, including Bob Hope, Liberace, Louis Armstrong, Johnny Cash, the Beach Boys, Fleetwood Mac, Bob Dylan, Aerosmith, Elton John, KISS, Bob Seger and Paul McCartney and others.
  • During the catastrophic flood of 1982, which put Fort Wayne on the national map, the Memorial Coliseum served as a shelter and command post for relief efforts. Volunteers, including many young people, helped with sandbagging efforts and those who helped received free tickets to see a performance by Indiana's own John Mellencamp.
  • President Harry S. Truman gave a speech at the Memorial Coliseum in 1958, but he wasn't the only President to appear here - Richard Nixon spoke in 1970, Gerald Ford in 1976 and Ronald Reagan in 1978. Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin visited in 2008. Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson visited for a rally in 2016. President Donald J. Trump visited for rallies in 2016, as a candidate, and again in 2018.
  • The biggest convention ever held at the Memorial Coliseum was the 25th annual Wing Ding meeting of the Gold Wing Rider's Association in July 2002, which pumped an estimated $8 million into the local economy.
  • The Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA Developmental League, won their first championship in 2014 in their 7th year of existence, sweeping the six game playoff schedule.

Download the Concert History of the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum (updated January 3, 2024)

Growth & Renewal

In the 1980s, a new convention hall was proposed as an addition to the original arena. The idea was to increase the floor space of the Memorial Coliseum, thereby making it more marketable. In May 1989, the 108,000 square foot Exposition Center opened, adding flexible space for trade shows, as well as several smaller banquet and meeting rooms. This project included the construction of the new entrance rotunda to serve the Expo Center and Arena.

In 2001, a major renovation was initiated to expand the Memorial Coliseum Arena and modernize the facility to keep pace with the times. As part of the project, the Coliseum's 1,200 ton roof was slowly raised 41 feet, 10 inches - one of the largest projects of its type. The renovated, state-of-the-art Arena now holds nearly 13,000 with more comfortable seats, 24 luxury suites and greater accessibility for guests with disabilities.

Program from Grand Re-Opening on November 9, 2002

In 2015, the Conference Center was added to the south end of the Expo Center, adding an  additional 27,155 square feet of high-tech, luxurious and multi-purpose event space and nearly 20,000 square feet of pre-function space.  The addition of the Conference Center to the complex, makes the Memorial Coliseum the second largest public assembly facility in the state of Indiana, with more than one million square feet under roof.

Today, the Memorial Coliseum serves the tri-state area as a focal point for family entertainment, arts and culture, sports and community gatherings. It draws visitors from all over the Midwest and has earned its reputation as one of the most successful facilities in the country.

Memorial Hall & Veterans Plaza

Veterans Plaza at the Memorial Coliseum brings together the Korean War era F-84F Thunderstreak airplane, an eternal flame, the anchor from USS Indiana and other memorials, all together in one place at the northwest corner of the property.

NCAA Basketball

The First Step: Submitting the Bid

In the summer of 2016, Visit Fort Wayne and the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum partnered with the Fort Wayne Mastodons and Manchester University Spartans to submit a total of 25 bids for events to take place from 2019 to 2022. In announcements made by the NCAA in 2017, the local institutions were selected to host a total of five separate NCAA basketball championship events, all to take place at the Memorial Coliseum.

Welcome to the Championship

Visit Fort Wayne, Manchester University, and the Memorial Coliseum hosted the first of five awarded events, the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Championship, on March 15 & 16, 2019. Two semifinal games took place on Friday, March 15 with the National Championship to follow on Saturday, March 16. The first semifinal faceoff was between Christopher Newport University and Swarthmore College. Swarthmore won 70-63. The second semifinal game featured the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh versus Wheaton College. Wisconsin-Oshkosh won 104-85. Swarthmore and Wisconsin-Oshkosh advanced to the National Championship game, where Wisconsin-Oshkosh won 96-82.

Unprecedented Events

In 2020, the Memorial Coliseum and Visit Fort Wayne were set to host the DI Women's Basketball Regional event on March 27-30 with local institution Purdue Fort Wayne, as well as the return of the DIII Men's Basketball National Championship on March 18 & 19 with Manchester University. But as concerns continued to grow regarding the coronavirus pandemic, the NCAA cancelled all men's and women's basketball tournaments, as well as all remaining winter and spring NCAA championships, as reported on March 12, 2020. 

The Division III Men's Basketball National Championship set for March 19 & 20, 2021, along with other NCAA events, was subsequently cancelled as well as pandemic concerns continued. 

The Tourney ReturnsĀ 

The Division III Men's Basketball National Championship made a highly-anticipated return to Fort Wayne in 2022 on March 18 & 19. Semifinal matchups were Elmhurst University versus Wabash College and Marietta College versus Randolph-Macon College. Elmhurst nabbed a 90-68 win while Randolph-Macon dominated with a final score of 81-63. Randolph-Macon took home the National Championship win with an impressive score of 75-45. 

Returning for its third year, the DIII Men's Basketball National Championship took place at the Memorial Coliseum on March 16 & 18, 2023. Swarthmore College and Christopher Newport University battled for the first championship spot, with Christopher Newport taking the win, 69-66. The second semifinal game between the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and Mount Union College led to Mount Union's win with a score of 83-79. Christopher Newport University prevailed over Mount Union College in the National Championship with a buzzer-beater win, 74-72.

The National Championship returned to the Memorial Coliseum on March 14 & 16, 2024. The first semifinal game matchup featured Hampden-Sydney College and Guilford College, with Hampden-Sydney earning the win at 62-57. Game 2 included Indiana's own Trine University versus Trinity College, and Trine persevered with a score of 66-54. When Saturday night came around, the Memorial Coliseum was buzzing with a nearly sold-out crowd covered in Trine University blue and white. Trine claimed the National Championship win with a 69-61 score. This year marked a win for the Memorial Coliseum, Fort Wayne and NCAA Division III as well, as this game set the new record attendance for a DIII National Championship game. 

Moving Forward

The Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, Visit Fort Wayne, and Manchester University will continue to host the DIII MBB National Championship though 2026. Mark your calendar with these dates!

  • March 21 & 22, 2025
  • March 20 & 21, 2026