You know, I can remember the Brownwood Coliseum when it opened in 1963 or 1964 and it was a fabulous place. For a town the size of Brownwood with a college the size of Howard Payne, it was just a fabulous place to play basketball. I vividly remember them beating North Texas in the coliseum. Should have, but didn’t, beat the University of Texas in the coliseum, but the biggest game ever played up until that point – fact is, the biggest game ever in the coliseum was when Howard Payne played Stephen F. Austin, I think it was 1970.
Stephen F. was like second or third in the nation and we were like fourth or fifth in the nation. It was hyped and hyped all season long and it finally arrived and I don’t think the people who were in charge of crowd control, I’m not sure they knew what their job was. I’m not sure anybody knew because we’d never had that kind of a crowd and it was a massive crowd. Back then the coliseum didn’t have seating all the way up behind the score boards. The seating was put in many years later, but they had no seating and then they just had concrete benches that went all the way up to the top of the coliseum behind the score boards.
Well, I do remember broadcasting the game. There wasn’t women’s basketball back then at HPU, and I think it started at 7:30. I had an interview on the radio to do at 5:30 so I knew I had to get there by 5:00 and I did and I was absolutely stunned when I drove up because a crowd of people were waiting in front of the coliseum and the line went all the way down toward where the Vine Street underpass is now. It was an unbelievable scene! Cars went from the parking lot all the way out to the street, down the street, all the way to where the traffic from the underpass came out. That’s where people were standing and waiting for the game which was two and a half hours away. So, there was a lot of hype to it and we got there and they actually opened the doors at 5:00. I got in about a quarter till and when the doors opened it was just a flood of people.
When I got off of the interview about 5:30, the coliseum was full! It was one of the most unbelievable scenes I have ever been a part of. Then, people got to worrying about how many people were in there and fire safety and all of those things, and all of a sudden officials were scurrying around saying “We’ve got to put a stop to this!” People were still stacked up on the outside. When that ballgame started, the broadcast table and the official scoring table, was not where it is now. It was on the opposite side. Back then it was on what you would call the “home side” with a big stage behind it, and there was a lot of open area – except that night there was no open area! It was full of people. There were no isles because they were full of people. I have no idea how many were in there. I think they list the official attendance of the coliseum at 4,000 now, probably based on that night. There are, I think like 2,900 and some odd seats, but if you fill everything downstairs and you fill the isles, you’ve probably got 4,000. I do know they turned people away from the ballgame.
By the way, the ballgame was worth it! Great college basketball game. We lost by four and over the years I can’t remember if it was 100 to 96 or 104 to 100, but something like that. It was a classic ballgame that we actually led from the very start but then we started getting people fouled out, and fouled out, and fouled out, and finally they overtook us and beat us. A great ballgame! I have great memories of that game and I hope I always will.
Until next time, so long everybody.
‘Out of the Box’ with Dallas Huston is published each Monday morning at BrownwoodNews.com. Dallas was the radio voice of the Brownwood Lions and Howard Payne Yellow Jackets for more than 55 years. He currently is Pastor of Center City Baptist Church and hosts a Men’s Bible Study in Brownwood on Monday evenings. Your comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.