AS I SEE IT 3/10: Another historic wrestling venue to be torn down?
AS I SEE IT
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Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets
Now to this week's column...
Another classic wrestling venue may soon be a thing of the past.
San Francisco's Cow Palace may soon be torn down to make way for a grocery store, bank, housing and other projects.
Daly City, CA City Manager Patricia Martel proved her total lack of grasp of history with this comment: "The Cow Palace has outlived its usefulness... Events there contribute nothing to our community. Why would we keep it?"
Ms. Martel, here some of the things that have happened at your "useless" venue:
John F. Kennedy gave his 1960 speech that first outlined his idea for the Peace Corps.
The 1956 and 1964 Republican National Conventions are held, with Dwight D. Eisenhower accepting the party's nomination for a second term as president in 1956 and Senator Barry Goldwater receiving the nomination in 1964
Billy Graham brought a two month "Crusade" to nearly 100,000 who came to the Cow Palace in 1958.
The San Francisco Warriors made the Cow Palace its home in 1964.
The Beatles hold concerts in the Bay Area in 1964 and 1965, one of their last North American live shows ever.
The San Jose Sharks started their NHL journey in 1991 at the Cow Palace until their new San Jose arena was built.
The Grateful Dead held a landmark 1974 concert at the Cow Palace with their own version of a "Wall of sound"
But for many of us reading this column, the Cow Palace is known as a historic wrestling venue which had featured Roy Shire's northern California promotion with Pat Patterson, Leo Nomellini, and Ray Stevens, as well as Angelo Mosca, Kenji Shibuya, Wilbur Snyder, The Sheik, Andre the Giant, and Verne Gagne.
Shire's promotion began its San Francisco run in the 1950s, with a TV running on KTVU Channel 2, the Bay Area's leading independent TV stations to support house shows running in San Francisco, Sacramento and San Jose. Shire began running shows opposite the Joe Malcewicz's NWA promotion in the Bay Area beginning on March 4, 1961.
As a side note, classic era Roller Derby announcer (and KTVU announcer)
Walt Harris served as the ring announcer on that show until 1970, ended due to conflicts between Roy Shire and station management, even though it was the station's top-rated show. Shire also ran TV airing out of KTXL, a strong Sacramento TV station that was on cable systems across the West, until Shire had another falling out with station executives. Shire's Big Time Wrestling finally wound up its run in 1981.
As a personal note, I remember the day in 1996 I was on vacation in San Francisco, and took in a WWF show at the Cow Palace primarily to see the Cow Palace and its history.
So I'm standing around the parking lot, waiting for the doors to open with the locals and kids milling around...and a car screeches to a stop, and goes into rapid reverse.
The door opens, and it's Chris Candido and Tammy Sytch (who had already broken up in storyline, but even the kids in the parking lot knew better than to ask) with a collective "What are YOU doing here!?!?!" We said our hellos and they drove into the building. Until the doors to the Cow Palace opened, I then had to listen to at least a hundred kids screeching at me without end..."You know Sunny?!?!?".
Somehow, I can imagine Chris getting a chuckle out of that bizarre situation. But not about the possibility that the Cow Palace may become the victim of a land deal. Candido would have known about everything that the Cow Palace meant to wrestling and could have told me a thing or ten I'm sure I didn't know.
If you're interested in helping to preserve this historic venue, a group of civic minded Bay Area residents have formed the Coalition To Save The Cow Palace. For more information on this effort, go to Save The Cow Palace.com.
Until next time...
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