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Detroiters bid farewell to Michigan State Fairgrounds Coliseum

Laura Herberg / WDET

A handful of people gathered Thursday in the parking lot of a Detroit Meijer to say goodbye to the 100-year-old Michigan State Fairgrounds Coliseum.

The former arena hosted concerts, Wayne State hockey games, horse riding and more. Now its seats and portions of its exterior walls have been removed, exposing the Amazon Distribution Center that’s being built behind it.

Frank Hammer, a member of the State Fairgrounds Development Coalition, says he’s not happy with how the City of Detroit has dealt with the historic building.

“When a veteran passes away, you come out and you give your honor,” Hammer says. “The city is treating this like blighted property without giving it its proper respects.”

The City is tearing down the Coliseum to make way for a new bus transit center for Detroit, but it is planning to use a piece of the building’s entrance as a feature in a planned nearby park. The façade of another historic property, the adjacent Dairy Cattle Building, will be used as part of the transit center building.

Newly elected City Councilmember Angela Whitfield-Calloway says in November, before her term began, she urged City Council to repurpose the Coliseum rather than demolish it.

“And it makes absolutely no sense to me why there was not a will from the administration to save this iconic structure,” Whitfield-Calloway says. “We are so quick to tear down historic pieces of property that we could easily preserve.”

Whitfield-Calloway says the Coliseum could have been turned into a farmers market or a place for pop-up shops.