By Dave Link, Knoxville News Sentinel
It's a frigid winter night, and things are heating up inside Civic Coliseum.
There is a sellout crowd to watch the Knoxville Ice Bears — and maybe the Wiener Dog Races, or the Miss Ice Bears contest — along with the Southern Professional Hockey League action.
The Ice Bears, in their 10th anniversary as the longest-tenured hockey team in Knoxville, are leading the SPHL in attendance this season with an average of 3,610 fans per game.
They have had three sellouts. It helps attendance that the Ice Bears, who play host to Columbus tonight, are title contenders who are currently second in the SPHL standings and boasting a 19-5-2 home record.
They are packing the old wooden seats in Civic Coliseum, which is 50 years old. That makes the Coliseum eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
As is the case with many buildings 50 years old, the Coliseum has seen better days. Like when the Rolling Stones played there in 1972. It is basically the same building and infrastructure from when it was built in 1961.
"It's the oldest building in the league, by far, but it has its advantages, and some disadvantages that we're not able to use or have, as some of the other venues do," said Ice Bears President/General Manager Mike Murray, who also is among the team's ownership group.