Today the Louisville Gardens is known as primarily an entertainment theater, but for much of its early life it became a sports venue noted for basketball and other various sports.
Upon its opening in 1905 the Gardens hadn’t received that moniker, but rather it was the Jefferson County Armory, serving the duties of its namesake.
What could be most interesting about athletics when it comes to the Gardens though is that one tenant was there in the early days, left, then came back in more recent years. That is, the ABA’s Kentucky Colonels, which worked in the Gardens in the league’s initial run as well as when the league mounted a comeback in 2004.
The Gardens, which has seen the likes of Martin Luther King Jr. and Harry Truman, also was a major part of the city’s history with professional wrestling, acting as a home for Ohio Valley Wrestling before the outfit moved to their current home at Davis Arena. In addition two major World Wrestling Entertainment pay-per-views were held at the venue, In Your House 6 and In Your House 17: Ground Zero. More recently Total Non-Stop Action wrestling made their own stop in the Gardens.
In truth sports in the Gardens have really hinged around basketball though, as it housed the South Eastern Conference men’s basketball tournaments from 1941 to 1952, the Ohio Valley Conference men’s basketball tournaments from 1949-1967 off and on. Then, in the mid-90’s basketball returned to the venue when the University of Louisville women’s basketball team played several games in the local landmark.
In addition several upstart hoops teams set the arena as their headquarters including the Continental Basketball Association’s Louisville Catbirds and the Global Basketball Association’s Louisville Shooters.
After being named to the National Register of Historic Places the over one-hundred year old venue has certainly made its name in the Derby City.
Image courtesy of Louisville Metromix