Concerts at Cole Field House

A Brief History

Even though the Cole Field House was primarily the home to the University of Maryland’s basketball team, it was also the location for many concerts. It was never intended to be a true music venue but the building’s capacity of 10,000 people was a major draw for artists touring through the Washington, DC capital region. Some of the most legendary rock and soul musicians played at the Cole Field House during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Notable artists such as Aretha Franklin, Elvis Presley, Rod Stewart, and Stevie Wonder played the Cole Field House much to the delight of students and area residents. There were also some legendary acts scheduled to play at the Field House including Bob Marley, Bruce Springsteen, and Led Zeppelin who cancelled their performances much to the frustration of many students. Past issues of the student published newspaper, The Diamondback, indicate how much students enjoyed concerts as a part of their collegiate experience but some also complained about how difficult it was to attract popular musicians to campus.

During the early to mid-1970s, the field house had a number of concerts with close to capacity audiences but it was used less so in the late 1970s and the 1980s. Many factors contributed to the shift of concerts away from the field house to other venues on campus such as Ritchie Coliseum and the Colony Ballroom but the main concerns were possible damage to the floor and increasing demand for athletic space. It also seems plausible that since the Cole Field House was not created specifically as a concert venue, it was not the best location for displaying a musician’s talents. Reviews of concerts that took place at the Cole Field House frequently note the lackluster acoustics and uncomfortable temperatures.

The Records of Student Entertainment Events (SEE) was especially beneficial in constructing a brief history of the many concerts to happen at the field house. The contracts, posters, and articles it contains provides an insight into the many barriers that music broke during the 1960s and 1970s. Several contracts from the 1970s stipulated that no concert attendees be segregated. The narrative thus shows that the Cole Field House was a location for students and residents to come together to listen to some of the most talented musicians of the day. Below is a sample of the many concerts that occurred or were scheduled to happen at the Cole Field House.

Concerts By Year
Date Artist Notes
March 18, 1969 The Association
February 22, 1970 James Brown
June 19, 1970 Janis Joplin and Van Morrison
September 20, 1970 Led Zeppelin Cancelled
November 10, 1970 Charlie Byrd
February 12, 1972 Joan Baez
April 23, 1972 The Carpenters
July 28, 1972 Black Sabbath
August 12, 1972 Jackson 5
February 10, 1973 Seals and Crofts
March 25, 1973 Stevie Wonder and Earth, Wind and Fire
April 6, 1973 Ramsey Lewis
April 13, 1973 Stephen Stills
August 11, 1973 Aretha Franklin
September 29, 1973 Graham Nash
November 10, 1973 War
September 28, 1974 Elvis Presley
October 4, 1975 Bruce Springsteen Cancelled
October 11, 1975 Rod Stewart
April 13, 1976 Starland Vocal Band
September 25, 1980 Bob Marley Cancelled