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Brown County Veterans Memorial Arena And Elvis Presley–Weeks Before Demolition

April 14, 2019

I have nostalgic feelings about the large concert venues that dot our nation.  Not that I have been in many of them, but rather just thinking of the stars who have performed under their domes, along with the massive crowds who have stood and applauded, and doubtless relived the shows many times for the rest of their days. All that brings a smile to my face.

From Market Square Arena in Indianapolis, Indiana which was razed in 2001 (where Elvis performed his final concert in 1977) to the Brown County Veterans Memorial Arena which is slated for demolition starting May 1st, (where Elvis last performed in 2007) these structures were filled with musical history.

From my front lawn, and looking out over Lake Monona, the domed Dane County Coliseum glistens on days of sunshine.  From sitting in the third row for a Wayne Newton show (first of two separate tour performances of his in Madison I bought tickets for, and the first and only time I ever waited in line for tickets when they came for sale) to the Dolly Parton show (James’ first ever concert of any kind), to Eddie Rabbitt, Larry Gatlin, and many more the coliseum holds grand memories.  My story can be told multiple ways by millions concerning these venues nationwide.

Such as with the Brown County Veterans Memorial Arena in Green Bay regarding Elvis Presley and his April 28th concert appearance.  This show was the one I had urged my parents to attend.  I wrote about it in my book, Walking Up The Ramp.  We were not in the audience, and sadly, history proved my strong suggestion we should have attended to have been a wise one.

The Green Bay News Chronicle reported that show this way.

All this came to pass, and at approximately 9.30PM the house lights darkened. After a hyper-dramatic drum roll, the Presley backup band soared into the theme from “2001: Space Odyssey.” Just like you heard it was out at his fabulous pyrotechnics at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. Not quite, though; time plays tricks, even sapping the talent of superstars. There stood the King all of a sudden, not jowly, pudgy, or flabby – but pale and unsteady, a rather slender common man wearing a white and gold-encrusted jumpsuit just a size too large.

If you wonder what the show sounded like there is a complete bootleg recording of the performance.  God Bless the bootleggers who have allowed so many musical recordings to be shared with fans worldwide.

There are also, given the fate of the arena, current memories of that concert in Green Bay.

Shirley Romsos wasn’t just there when Elvis Presley played Brown County Veterans Memorial Arena on April 28, 1977.

She was in the front row. 

She didn’t just stand in line to get tickets for what would go down as most famous concert in the arena’s 60-year history. 

She was the first in line. 

Romsos was in her 20s when she and three of her co-workers at Fort Howard paper company left work early on a Friday morning in March to begin a 22½-hour wait for the box office to open the next day. They told their foreman they were all sick. Nice try, but he wasn’t buying it, so they confessed to what they were really up to and off they went

The photos of the concert abound.

Pictured is EP with Sherrill (Shaun) Nielsen  who this blog posted about at the time of his passing in 2010.  His voice, if you know your gospel music, is most remarkable–as he proved during Elvis concerts.

There were many Elvis scarves thrown to adoring fans at concerts--and the one in Green Bay was no different.  In the latter portion of the video on the link the Green Bay (April 28th) concert is mentioned.  With the scarf tucked into a bra!

Mementos from dignitaries given to Elvis at his concerts, such as that from famed Green Bay Packer legend Bart Starr, are now located at Graceland.  Starr served as quarterback for the Green Bay Packers from 1956-1971. He gifted this Green Bay Packers helmet to Elvis at one of the king’s Green Bay shows. Elvis’ name is spelled out on the back of the helmet, too.

Many a memory to be had all because of one concert decades ago at the Brown County Veterans Memorial Arena.  It that arena could talk what tales it could tell!  It is easy to see why there are so many nostalgic voices sharing their stories about the performers who graced that building.   May the stories always live.


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