Independence Excavating safely demolishes the Coliseum of Richfield

Coliseum Demolition

The Coliseum of Richfield was home to many memorable sporting and entertainment events, from Frank Sinatra to the Cleveland Cavaliers, in 20 years of operation at its rural location. But after the redevelopment of downtown Cleveland, the sports and entertainment complex was decommissioned and purchased by the Trust for Public Land, a San Francisco-based land bank. In February 1999, the Trust for Public Land cleared the way to have the 100-acre facility demolished and remediated to 100 acres of woodland meadow – without incurring any further damage to the local rural environment.

The massive arena would require the full scope of Independence Excavating’s structural and selective demolition services to bring the structure down safely and cleanly.

Selective Demolition

Loge levels, administration offices, and numerous electrical and mechanical equipment were stripped and removed safely. The wooden slats of the basketball court and numerous truckloads of wood from courtside platforms were removed intact and donated to a nonprofit group and used in making wooden children’s toys. Outside the building, removal of all parking lot lighting, signs, guard boots, guardrails, landscaping, and the de-energized 69 kVA substation would be required before the 80-acre parking lot could be removed.

Structural Demolition

Independence Excavating strips away the pre-cast skin and cuts the steel frame down

Independence Excavating strips away the Coliseum's pre-cast skin and cuts the steel frame down

The CAVS practice court and administrative offices were stripped of their pre-cast skin, and the steel frame was cut down for processing as scrap metal. Cast-in-place concrete floors, walls, and masonry partitions were reduced to rubble and used to backfill the lower bowl of the arena. Demolition of the precast stadia and raker beams, which supported the upper concourse seating, was accomplished with a hydraulic grapple mounted on a CAT 245 excavator – allowing the operator to remove the concrete and send it to the arena floor in one continuous motion.

The 335-foot clear span roof was supported by six main roof trusses weighing nearly 250 tons each. The highly skilled burners of Independence Excavating isolated each main truss by cutting smaller trusses and bar joists. Once the remaining isolation cuts were made, dozers pulled the 20,000-square-foot roof down onto the concrete debris below. The steel trusses were then safely processed for scrap and removed.

After the building was down and the arena void filled with masonry and concrete rubble, the entire former footprint was covered with a minimum of 36 inches of on-site fill. The site was left basically flat with a gentle grade draining to the north and east.

Environmental Remediation

Converting the 100-acre facility back to its natural rural character would require moving 80 acres of asphalt parking and 600,000 gallons of wastewater off the site with no environmental or safety violations. Nearly 200,000 tons of asphalt and stone base was processed on site for recycling. The on-site wastewater treatment plant was deactivated and removed along with the 600,000 gallons of wastewater.

The Results

The entrance drives were removed and the existing roadway swale continued for the full length of the frontage. A clean and safe environment was maintained throughout the project, leaving 100 acres of meadow and woodlands complete with native flora and fauna. Red-tailed hawks, deer, sawgrass and ryegrass have taken over the former Coliseum site without any negative environmental impact.

Date: Spring 1999
Location: Richfield, Ohio
Summary: 100-acre entertainment and sports complex returned to natural woodland and meadow setting.
Services Performed:

Trust For Public Land “I would like to take this opportunity to formally thank you for your efforts to make the project a successful one for the Trust for Public Land and the National Park Service. Your responsiveness and commitment to a high quality result, and the corresponding commitment of your staff and subcontractors is highly appreciated and recognized by all of us at TPL.” -Alan D. Raymond
Director of Projects, the Trust for Public Land


When handling large-scale demolitions, our priority is safety.