Earlier this week after having a medical test done in Wichita Falls, I decided to visit the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame.
PWHF president and curator Johnny Mantell has done a spectacular job putting together the museum, which is located on 8th Street next to the coffee house in downtown.
There was one part of the museum that really stood out for me.
In the entry way, there’s an old wrestling card from the world-famous Dallas Sportatorium.
Accompanying this story is an old advertisement for the Sportatorium, which was located on Industrial Boulevard in Dallas.
The barn-like structure became a mecca for entertainment, and not just for professional wrestling.
Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley were two musicians who performed at the Sportatorium for Ed McLemore – a longtime promoter from Dallas.
Back in its heyday, there were professional wrestling cards every Tuesday.
That’s right. It wasn’t like World Wrestling Entertainment just coming through town once in a while like they did Friday at Taylor County Expo Center in Abilene.
Every Tuesday, top stars wrestled at the Sportatorium, and all the big names wanted to grapple there. Pro wrestling TV tapings were norm here.
The list of wrestlers reads like a who’s who, and many of them are enshrined in the PWHF.
Lou Thesz, Fritz Von Erich (real last name Adkisson, as many Montague County residents know), Dory Funk, Jr. and Gene Kiniski are just some of the standouts who laced up boots inside the Sportatorium.
Through McLemore’s efforts, Dallas earned the reputation as the “Professional Wrestling Capitol of Texas.”
The low cost of entertainment was another draw. Ringside seats, even in the late 1960s, were just $3. Box seats went for $2.50, and general admission was $1.50.
The capacity for the Sportatorium also helped, with only about 4,500 seats, both music and wrestling shows proved to be a hot ticket. Read more from this column in the Aug. 27 Bowie News.
Editor’s Note: The Storm Center column is the expressed written views of sports editor Eric Viccaro and not The Bowie News.
Ed McLemore’s Sportatorium was the site for many top professional wrestling matches and country music concerts in Dallas back in the 1940s through 1980s. Today, the Sportatorium is no more, a vacant lot off Interstate-35 East on Riverfront Boulevard. (Submitted photo)