For 50 years, the Pacific Coliseum hosted some of Vancouver’s biggest events and it’s not done

Click to play video: 'Celebrating 50 years of history at Vancouver’s Pacific Coliseum' Celebrating 50 years of history at Vancouver’s Pacific Coliseum
WATCH: Squire Barnes takes a look at the venerable Pacific Coliseum, which turns 50 this year – Jan 25, 2018

There was a time when East Vancouver was the heart of the city’s sports scene.

Before stadiums were built in the downtown core, the Pacific Coliseum was the home of every major concert, show or hockey game that took place in the city.

The stadium on Renfrew Street hosted some of the most memorable sporting moments in the city’s history.

Even though the Vancouver Canucks haven’t played there since 1995, the team owes its existence, in part, to the coliseum. The facility was a key reason the NHL expanded to Vancouver in 1970.

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The Coliseum was home to some of the greatest moments in franchise history, including the Canucks’ unlikely runs to the Stanley Cup finals in 1982 and 1994.

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But the Coliseum hosted other major sporting events, including Game 4 of the legendary 1972 Summit Series.

Vancouver fans booed Canadian players off the ice after they lost 5-3 to the Soviet Union.

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Phil Esposito gave an impassioned post-game interview that some said was a turning point in the series.

“We came because we love Canada,” he told a national TV audience.

“And even though we play in the United States, and we earn money in the United States, Canada is still our home, and that’s the only reason we come. And I don’t think it’s fair that we should be booed.”

Boxing great Muhammad Ali squared off against Canadian George Chuvalo in the Pacific Coliseum in 1972.

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The stadium hosted events during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. A young Milan Lucic led his hometown Vancouver Giants to a Memorial Cup on home ice back in 2007.

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Coliseum employees look back fondly on the stadium, and sports fans do too.

“People have often told me that they really like coming to games at the Coliseum because it was more wide open,” longtime Coliseum usher Vern Frick said.

“You could see the play from the concourse whereas at Rogers [Arena] you can’t. I think that’s a big difference.”

“You feel so much more comfortable here,” said Dave Babych, a former Canucks defenceman who played at both of the team’s home stadiums.

“GM Place [now Rogers Arena], it turned into almost like a box store. The atmosphere wasn’t the same.”

The Pacific Coliseum remains a viable venue, 50 years after it was built, said PNE president Mike McDaniel.

“It does have a future. It makes money,” he said.

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“It’s better to be a building that’s got a long history, great personality, and lot of memories that makes money so we can celebrate its 75th and its 100th [anniversary].”
  • Video report by Squire Barnes

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