It's been the home for everything from the NBA, to roller derby and showcased everyone from Richard Nixon to Evel Knievel. The Cincinnati Gardens is truly a place that fits the description "So Cincinnati."
For thousands of sports and music fans, it's place that made memories. Local 12 News reporter Joe Webb takes us there.
It's a 3 Ring Circus at the Cincinnati Gardens this weekend. But as always, this old place can handle it a welcoming place for the fans and the performers. "It's a big beautiful place. Yes, we travel all over the country and this is as fine location as any."
The Gardens sprouted from this corner of the Roselawn neighborhood in February of 1949. Modeled after Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens, it was home to the Cincinnati Mohawks Hockey Team. "Hockey was pretty much what the building was made for but in the early days, boxing was a big showcase here. Old school wrestling events were big here and basketball has always been huge here."
The Gardens was the home floor of the Cincinnati Royals from 1957 to 1972 and the 1966 NBA All-Star game. Off and on it has been home to both UC and Xavier basketball and hosted 42 crosstown shootouts. Not a small gym by any measure except feel. "It's old school. But there's not a bad seat in this building."
When it was built, the gardens could hold 14,000 for the local hockey team. Now it holds about 10,000 for the local arena football team.
And when you come back you will be sitting in the same seats you sat in as a kid. That means the teenage fan who paid $2.75 for a seat in Section 60 for the Beatles Concert can sit in it again when he's 64. That concert and news conference was in The Gardens in 1964. The Jackson Five played the gardens in 1971, Elvis came, and left the building in 1972. "As far as musical acts, those 3 probably have to be the biggest. In the early 70's Evel Knievel appeared here and jumped over a bunch of buses."
So it's been a bit of a 3 ring circus over the years. And it's served 3 generations of Cincinnatians looking for a place to watch their team, their favorite band or something they shouldn't try at home. "It's very Cincinnati. I guess, maybe just because of the kinds of events that have been here over the years. It's such a staple of Cincinnati. I grew up here and lived here my whole life. And it just seems to fit the mold of the city."