The History of Will Rogers Memorial Center

The National Cutting Horse Association’s 2018 World Championship Futurity is in full swing at the Will Rogers Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas. Over the years, Will Rogers Memorial Center has hosted competitors and celebrities of all disciplines and walks of life.  Established in 1936 in commemoration of the Texas Centennial, the Coliseum was revolutionary in its design. Built with no interior columns to block spectator views, the engineering of the dome used flexible pivots in primary members at center span stress points, similar to buildings you might see today. Inside, Art Deco elements are found all over including a Paris Exposition sunburst, geometric designs, and aluminum and brass light fixtures.  A giant painting by Seymour Stone greets guests in the south bay of the lobby featuring Will Rogers on his favorite horse, Soapsuds.
The Tower stands at 209 feet tall, just between the Coliseum and Auditorium. Per the original Tower design, the four side panels were filled with internal fluorescent lighting to provide an element of drama and excitement during special events.
The Auditorium completes the original Memorial Center, with geometrically patterned floors similar to designs found in the Tower and Coliseum, but with additional elements strikingly modern.
Today, new construction can be seen adjacent to the current Coliseum where the Dickies Arena is currently being built. Scheduled to open in November of 2019, the Dickies Arena will be the new host of the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo along with many other events. As the 2019 Stock Show & Rodeo draws near, the last at Will Rogers Coliseum, we remember the magnificence of this pivotal structure in Fort Worth and Texas history.

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