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  • Writer's pictureLloyd Brown

Bojangles’ Coliseum – Charlotte Checkers


Photos by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.71

Bojangles’ Coliseum 2700 E Independence Blvd Charlotte, NC 28205


Year Opened: 1955

Capacity: 8,600

 

Checking out in Charlotte


The Bojangles Coliseum opened in 1955 as Charlotte’s first dedicated sports and concert venue. It has gone through various names over the years, including the Charlotte Coliseum, Independence Arena, Cricket Arena, and Bojangles Coliseum. It has operated as Bojangles Coliseum since 2008. When it opened it was the largest unsupported steel dome Coliseum in the world. It has a capacity of 8,600 in its ice hockey configuration.


The Bojangles Coliseum was the first sports facility in the Deep South to serve as the home for a professional ice hockey team. The story of hockey in Charlotte is a story of fire and ice. The Baltimore Clippers of the Eastern Hockey League were left without a home rink with several games left in their 1956 season after their home rink burned down. The team moved to Charlotte on an emergency basis to play its last 5 games.


Charlotte went wild over this new sport in the South, with 10,000 fans turning out for the initial game and 40,000 fans turning out over the five-game span. The Clippers owner was so impressed that he decided to keep the team in Charlotte permanently.


It was an immediate success, as the Charlotte Clippers won the regular season and playoff championships in their first full season in Charlotte. After the first two seasons, a contest was held to rename the team. Maurice “Rocket” Richard was brought in to announce the name change to the Charlotte Checkers.


Over the next 20 years, there were several changes in league affiliations with the Eastern Hockey League and the Southern Hockey League both going out of business. Finally, the Checkers would move on to the ECHL and eventually to the American Hockey League (AHL) in 2010.


The Bojangles Coliseum hosted professional hockey from 1956-1977 to 1993-2005. The Checkers eventually returned to Bojangles Coliseum permanently in 2015 after several years at the Spectrum Arena in downtown Charlotte. In 2019 the Checkers took home the Calder Cup as the champions of the American Hockey League. The team serves as the AHL affiliate of the Florida Panthers of the NHL.


Food & Beverage 5

Bojangles Coliseum offers a well-rounded set of concession offerings along the concourse level of the facility.


Kelly’s East Side Diner offers a Bojangles chicken menu, plus hot dogs, popcorn, and craft beer. The Route 74 Grill serves a roadhouse menu of pizza, hot dogs, nachos, and brats. Charlotte’s Local Tap features a City BBQ menu of pulled pork sandwiches, pork/brisket tacos, and nachos, along with several craft beers. Goalie Guacamole features Latin-influenced street food, including chicken or pork nachos, chips and salsa, and chicken/pork Mexican rice bowls.


Beer enthusiasts can head to the Beer Garden to sample more than 16 different craft beers. Each of these vendors features Coca-Cola brand products and operates on a cashless basis.


The Red Line Club is a premium dining offering at the ice level of the Coliseum. It is positioned between the Checkers locker room and the rink. This offers patrons the opportunity to high-five the players as they enter and depart the ice between periods. The Red Line Club does accept reservations.


Atmosphere 4

Checkers games at the Bojangles Coliseum are very well done. Each game provides some type of promotional giveaway. The stands are usually 70-80% full regularly. Even if you are seated in the balcony area of the arena, you’ll have a great view of the action on the ice.


The Coliseum made several improvements in its facilities in preparation for the Checker's return in time for the 2016 season. These included the installation of wider seats in a reconfiguration of the seating bowl surrounding the ice. The electronics package also was enhanced with a new scoreboard, sound system, and sports lighting at the facility.           




Neighborhood 3

Unfortunately, the area immediately around the Bojangles Coliseum is very transitional. We encourage you to park only in the arena’s parking lot or to take a ride share to and from a game.


There are some spots worth visiting within driving distance of the Coliseum. Vaulted Oak Brewery is a favorite for before and after-the-game drinks. The Mint Museum is highly recommended for any trip to the Queen City.


Fans 4

Charlotte has the savviest hockey fans in the southern region of the AHL, as the city and the Coliseum have hosted a hockey team off and on since 1956. This predated the arrival of pro basketball and pro football by three decades. It has allowed the team to build a couple of generations of hockey fans.


Bojangles Coliseum and the Checkers have a talented team on hand to keep the fans energized throughout the game. The team includes mascot Chubby, PA announcer TJ Chillot, organist Jason Atkins, aka “Greazy Keys” and the team’s cheer and dance team the CheckMates.


The fans can create quite a din on powerplays or after a Checker’s goal. Their cheers are amplified by the Bojangles Coliseum’s tin roof, which tends to reflect the noise down into the seating bowl.


Access 4

Bojangles Coliseum is easy to get to, as it lies along one of Charlotte’s main thoroughfares on Independence Boulevard (Highway 74). The parking lot is adjacent to the Coliseum, and it opens two hours before puck drop. The parking is built into your ticket price, which makes the parking process go much faster. Recent renovations have added additional entry points into the arena, and the doors open one hour before the puck drops, giving you plenty of time to find your seats.


There are three main entrances to Bojangles Coliseum. The doors open one hour before the puck drops. This leaves you plenty of time to find your seat, get something to eat, or watch warmups. This helps keep lines from growing too long and the flow into the arena runs very smoothly.


The concourse runs 360 degrees around the ice and is wide enough to handle the typical Checkers crowd without significant bottlenecks. The most recent renovations at Bojangles increased the number of restrooms by 33%, a much-needed improvement over the long lines, especially between the periods.


Return on Investment 3

You will need to pull out your checkbook when purchasing tickets to a Checkers game, as they are quite pricey. There are five different levels of tickets in the seating bowl. The cheapest seats are known as balcony seats. They cost $25 and are located on the sides above the concourse. Attack seats ($28) are in the corners above the concourse.


Gold seats ($35) are located on the sides just below the concourse. Platinum seats ($45) are in the lower levels on the sides of the rink. The two highest-priced ticket levels are Rinkside ($55) and Glass ($150). Glass seats are the first row of seats adjacent to the glass, while Rinkside seats are the rows immediately behind the glass seats. The parking fees are covered in the ticket price. Concession prices are well priced.


Extras 3

Over the years the Charlotte Checkers have won several championships in the leagues they have played in. These include the 1956 Eastern Hockey League titles in 1956, 1971, and 1972, as well as the 1975 and 1976 titles in the Southern Hockey League and the ECHL title in 1996. In 2019 the Checkers were crowned as the Calder Cup champions of the AHL.


The Checkers played their first regular-season outdoor game in January 2024. The Checkers Outdoor Classic was held at Truist Park, the home of the Charlotte Knights minor league baseball team. The banners from the various championships the Checkers have won over the years ring the perimeter of the seating bowl.


Final Thoughts

The original home of the Charlotte Checkers is still going strong nearly 70 years later. Bojangles Coliseum has undergone numerous renovations over the years to remain a viable home for one of the first southern ice hockey posts in the country.

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