Coliseo de Puerto Rico José Miguel Agrelot
Named in honor of Puerto Rican comedian, television and radio host, José Miguel Agrelot, who was born in Santurce, San Juan, the José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum is located on San Juan’s Golden Mile. As Puerto Rico’s largest indoor arena, the coliseum can seat up to 18,500 spectators and has hosted more than five hundred exciting events since opening its doors in September 2004. In May 2011, the José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum was ranked by Pollstar Magazine as number eight on the list of Top 50 Arena Venues in the world, and in second place in the Western Hemisphere, measured by ticket sales.
Officially named Coliseo de Puerto Rico José Miguel Agrelot, the coliseum is more commonly referred to by Puerto Ricans as the ‘Choliseo’ – a combination of the words ‘coliseo’ and ‘Cholito’, with the latter being a reference to one of Agrelot’s popular characters, Don Cholito. The project for the Choliseo was originally conceived as part of the island’s bid to host the 2004 Olympic Games. The spot chosen was between the existing Hiram Bithorn Baseball Stadium and the Roberto Clemente Coliseum, and the stadium would have been used for Olympic events such as basketball and gymnastics. When Athens was selected to host the 2004 games the plans for building the coliseum were put on hold. After some consideration it was decided to go ahead with the construction of the coliseum, but at a different site and San Juan’s Milla de Oro (Golden Mile) was chosen. With the Tren Urbano servicing the area, the planners did not include parking facilities to the arena, which became one of the many issues raised in political wrangling that continued for some time, delaying the completion of the stadium.
When it came to naming the coliseum, the controversy continued. It was suggested that the name of a Puerto Rican celebrity should be added to the official name of Coliseo de Puerto Rico, but the parties involved could not agree on who should be named. Puerto Rican law prohibits a facility being named after a living individual, and when the much-loved local celebrity was suggested, Agrelot reportedly said on his radio program that while he wants the controversy over the naming of the stadium to stop, public facilities are customarily named after dead people and he would like to remain alive for some time. Sadly, José Miguel Agrelot passed away in his sleep on January 28, 2004. The decision to name the coliseum in his honor was almost unanimous and the Coliseo de Puerto Rico José Miguel Agrelot was dedicated to him on April 21 of that year, the day that would have been his birthday.