The home of the Cincinnati Rollergirls is the historic Cincinnati Gardens, a 25,000-square foot entertainment arena in Bond Hill built on the corner of Seymour Avenue and Langdon Farm Roads. The Gardens opened its doors in 1949 for an amateur exhibition hockey game, and since then has hosted some of the biggest acts that have ever entertained an audience.
Built on 22 acres the Gardens was modeled after the Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, Ontario. When the Gardens opened in 1949, it was the seventh largest indoor arena in the U.S. with the capacity to seat 11,000 fans.
The Gardens was built using about 325,000 man-hours at a cost of $3 million. Some 2,200 tons of structured and reinforcing steel were used, and it was said that a 10-foot story tall building could fit under the Gardens’ roof.
Acts of all kinds have taken place under that roof including the Circus, Sesame Street, Bugs Bunny and Barney the purple dinosaur. The Gardens has hosted horse shows, dog shows, baseball-card shows and gem and mineral expos. Evel Knievel who jumped 14 buses at Kings Island in 1975 performed death-defying motorcycle jumps at the Gardens. Richard Nixon and Henry Cabot Lodge spoke to 19,000 on October 25, 1960, the largest crowd the Gardens has ever hosted.
Local boxer, and former Heavyweight Champion, The Cincinnati Cobra, Ezzard Charles fought three times at the Cincinnati Gardens winning all three fights by knockout.
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Hockey has always been one of the staples of the Cincinnati Gardens, in fact that is what it was built for. From 1949-1957 the Cincinnati Gardens played host to the Cincinnati Mohawks, from 1971-1974 the Cincinnati Swords called the Gardens home. Beginning in 1990 and running until 1997 the Cincinnati Cyclones played at the Gardens, and beginning in 1997 until 2005 the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks called the Gardens home. From the time when the Cyclones left the Gardens and moved into what is now known as US Bank Arena the Cyclones have won the Kelly cup twice in 2008 and 2010.
For not currently having a professional team, the city of Cincinnati loves basketball. The Gardens for a time played host to the Crosstown Shootout, which was an annual game between The Xavier Musketeers and the Cincinnati Bearcats from 1927-2012. During the final seconds of the 2012 game, and UC down by 23 points, thingsbegin to get a little squirrely, an resulted in a on-court brawl. The worst was Kenny Frease of Xavier being sucker-punched by Bearcat Yancy Gates. That fight was the last of the Crosstown Shootout and in its place is the watered-down “Cincinnati Classic” which is played on a neutral floor. The last Crosstown Shootout to be played in the Cincinnati Gardens was 1999 when the Xavier Musketeers defeated the Cincinnati Bearcats 66-64.
The Cincinnati Royals who are now the Sacramento Kings played their games at the Cincinnati Gardens from 1957-1972 featuring Cincinnati favorite "The Big O" Oscar Robertson. Robertson who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1980, named to the NBA 35th Anniversary Team and the NBA 50th Anniversary Team was unceremoniously traded to the Milwaukee Bucks in 1970 with no reason given, no public reason anyway.
"I think he was wrong and I will never forget it,” Robertson said.
In 1966 the Cincinnati Gardens was the place for the NBA All-Star Game which was seen by 13,653 people. Oscar Robertson, Jerry Lucas and Adrian Smith all of the Cincinnati Royals helped the East slaughter the West 137-94.
Today, the Cincinnati Gardens are home to the Cincinnati Rollergirls, (CRG) the first flat-track roller derby team in the tri-state area. CRG regularly attracts 3,000 plus fans to their home games and offer tailgating, free parking, and one dollar happy hour beers for their fans.
The Cincinnati Rollergirls are not the first roller derby team to play in the Gardens, as the Cincinnati Jolters tore up the track in the 1970s. On January 8, 1971, 13,410 fans entered the Cincinnati Gardens to see the Cincinnati Jolters compete on the track.
This Saturday, March 23, the Cincinnati Rollergirls kick off their 2013 home season against the NEO Rollergirls from Akron, OH. It is a very special game, because not only are the Violent Lambs and Black Sheep returning for another in-your-face season, fan favorite player-coach Sadistic Sadie returns after a two year hiatus. You will not want to miss Cincinnati Rollergirls’ Opening Day.
Tickets are available at Cincinnatirollergirls.com, Ticketmaster.com or the Gardens’ Box Office the day of the game.
Adult general admission tickets: $10 in advance, $12 at the door
Adult trackside tickets (18 and older only): $15 in advance, $17 at the door
Kids 7-12: $5 in advance, $6 at the door
Kids 6 and younger: Free
Information for this article gathered from cincygardens.com and cincinnatirollergirls.com