Located at 801 Bagby Street near downtown, the Coliseum and Music Hall complex replaced the Sam Houston Hall, which was a wooden structure that had been erected on the site for the 1928 Democratic National Convention and torn down in 1936. The Public Works Administration contributed $1,329,508 to the project designed by architect Alfred C. Finn. Groundbreaking ceremonies were held on November 4, 1936. The arena opened in November 1937 and had a capacity of 9,200. It was built in conjunction with the Houston Music Hall, which was adjacent to the Coliseum.
On October 14, 1956, Elvis Presley's concert at the Coliseum ended abruptly, as he and his band were taken away by police escort, just before the end of the show as a mob of about 1,000 teenagers rushed the stage, their instruments being destroyed as a result.
On November 21, 1963, United States President John F. Kennedy gave a speech in the Houston Coliseum, on what would be the last night of his life. John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas the following day.
On August 19, 1965, The Beatles performed at the Coliseum.
On August 20, 1967, James Brown performed at the Coliseum.
Jimi Hendrix played at the venue on June 6, 1970, three months before he died.
The First National Women's Conference, a milestone for the modern women's movement, was held at the Coliseum in November 1977.
The Black Crowes played a free concert at the venue on February 6, 1993. The free show was due to security problems that forced the cancellation of a show during a previous Houston visit. The show was broadcast nationally on radio across North America and also was videotaped for the video "Bad Luck Blue Eyes Goodbye". The audio version was released on EPs, dubbed "High in Houston". This would be the last concert performed at the Coliseum before it was demolished.
In 1946, permanent ice chillers were installed in the floor to accommodate an ice hockey rink for Houston's first pro ice hockey team – the Houston Skippers of the USHL. The Skippers changed their name the following season to the Houston Huskies and called the Coliseum home until their demise in 1949.
The venue also played host to the Houston Apollos, of the CPHL, from 1965–1969; the Houston Aeros, of the WHA, from 1972–1975 and the Houston Apollos of the CHL, from 1979–1981. The Aeros moved to The Houston Summit, which opened in November 1975 and played their final three seasons there.
The Houston Mavericks, a charter member of the American Basketball Association, played their home games in the Coliseum. However, the Houston franchise was plagued by mismanagement and low attendance. In 1969, the team relocated and became the Carolina Cougars. The Mavericks drew less than 500 fans for most games; their final game in Houston drew just 89 fans.
The Coliseum was also home to Houston Wrestling, run by legendary wrestling promoter Paul Boesch. In an event promoted by Boesch, Jack Brisco defeated Harley Race to win the National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Championship at the Coliseum on July 20, 1973.
By the 1970s, the arena was starting to show its age. Its fate was effectively sealed in 1971, when the NBA's San Diego Rockets moved to Houston and insisted on building a new arena—what became the Summit—as a replacement. When the Rockets arrived, they would not even consider playing in the Coliseum while the Summit was being built, deeming it inadequate even for temporary use; instead, they played their first few seasons at Hofheinz Pavilion.
- Sam Houston, general who secured Texas independence and namesake of the coliseum
- Sam Houston (wrestler), wrestler who wrestled in the coliseum
- Venue information and background
- Strom, Stephen R. "A Legacy of Pride: Houston's PWA Buildings" (PDF). Houston History Magazine. Retrieved 26 March 2018.
- "Tina Turner (includes Ike & Tina Turner) by Years". Rock In Houston.
- "All-Time Results" (PDF). 2008-09 Media Guide. Houston Cougars athletics. Retrieved 2008-12-08.