While watching the blackout strike during the big game in New Orleans on Sunday we at Suns.com remembered that Phoenix fans once had to endure something similar at the old Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Except they never got to see the end of the game thanks to Mother Nature. We went back into the archives and found the article to share with you.
At 7 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 6, 1974, things were looking up at Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum.
Except the “things” were the estimated 5,000 spectators at the Suns’ exhibition game against the Portland Trailblazers, and what they were looking up at was the Coliseum’s leaky roof.
A steady rain and constant drip on the Coliseum’s floor forced the cancellation of star rookie Bill Walton’s Phoenix debut after more than an hour-and-a-half of waiting.
The game was canceled to avoid the risk of players falling on the wet floor – something that had happened a few years earlier in Seattle to Supersonics’ star forward Spencer Haywood. The Sonics sued the city, the operator of their arena, and reached a substantial out-of-court settlement.
“Players, coaches and management believe it’s in the best interest of everyone that this game not be played,” then-suns general manager Jerry Colangelo told the impatient audience in Phoenix.
He advised those in attendance that they could exchange their ticket for one to an Oct. 13 exhibition matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers and receive an additional bonus ticket.
“We’re very disappointed,” Colangelo said afterward. “We’re at the mercy of the Coliseum authority. It’s our building – and when I say ‘our’ I mean the taxpayers.”
Coliseum director Jim Jones was equally disappointed.
“That thing has leaked from the day they accepted the building,” he said. “Then they put that big (25-foot) candle on the roof to celebrate its first birthday. All that did was add to the leak and nullify the guarantee.”
Columnist Frank Gianelli of The Arizona Republic wrote that a casual walk through at the “Big Bin” on McDowell resulted in a count of more than 100 water-stained panels in the suspended ceiling, “plus a few rain splashes with Coke after stepping onto a cupful some Suns’ patron left alongside the court.”
While the rain-out may have been memorable for the fans, it was not a happy night for the Suns, who had only the game against the Lakers remaining on their exhibition schedule.
“We really needed to play a game,” said coach John MacLeod. “We wanted to see what Earl Williams could do against Walton. We wanted to see a lot of things.
“But there was no sense in taking a chance on hurting somebody on a wet floor. There was no way to play.”
The rain-out ended up costing the Coliseum-fairground $15,000.
On Sept. 30, 1975, the Coliseum and Exposition Center Board agreed to settle with the Suns by reducing the per-game rental on the building until the $15,000 was paid.