The Roberto Clemente Coliseum (or Coliseo Roberto Clemente in Spanish) is a sporting events and concert arena in San Juan, Puerto Rico. It was, for many years, Puerto Rico’s largest event facility, and it continues being one of the largest.
The Coliseum is named after baseball hall of famer Roberto Clemente, who died in a plane crash off Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in Carolina in 1972, while flying with relief articles to be given to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. Construction of the facility began in the early 1970s, it was finished in January 1973, and inaugurated in February of that year by the Fania All Stars.
The coliseum has been host to a variety of events, including world championship boxing and basketball, business expos, circus, concerts and other things. Many Puerto Rican and international performers have been there, including Antonio Aguilar, Menudo, Marco Antonio Solis, Saga, Wilkins, Whitesnake, Duran Duran, Mötley Crüe, Kiss, and others. It has been the home of three different BSN professional basketball teams and the BSN has also used it as a neutral site for their most important games, including game 7 of the championship finals, several times.
The Coliseum has also been used by religious leaders for conferences and religious services.
Most of the world championship boxing bouts fought in Puerto Rico during the late 1970s and early 1980s were fought at the Roberto Clemente coliseum, including Roberto Duran’s world title defense versus Mexican Leoncio Ortiz, Wilfredo Gómez’s knockout win against Carlos Zarate, many of Samuel Serrano’s title defenses, and the fight where Muhammad Ali defended his title against Jean Pierre Coopman, the only time a world Heavyweight championship fight has been held in Puerto Rico. George Foreman had his last fight (and experienced the vision that led him to become a born-again Christian in one of its dressing rooms) before announcing his first retirement there, and Julio César Chávez had one of his first important fights there, on the undercard of Edwin Rosario’s world Lightweight championship win against Jose Luis Ramirez. Because of all the boxing action going on during that era, many observers call the period from the middle ’70s to the middle ’80s as the golden age of boxing in Puerto Rico.
The Clemente coliseum has also been the place of large political rallies, and Puerto Rico’s electoral commission uses its facilities to count votes after each election.