Hobart Arena
Troy, OH

The Hobart Arena at 255 Adams Street, Troy, OH
Photo courtesy web

In the 1950's Troy, Ohio was a small, fairly conservative, mid-western town with a population of about 12,000.  At a special election in 1947, the citizens of Troy approved a $450,000 bond issue to build an 18-hole golf course and a new football stadium stadium as part of a plan by William H. and Edward A. Hobart.  In return the C.C. Hobart Foundation would build and give to the City of Troy a winter sports arena.1

Ice cleaning at Hobart Arena - ca.1950
Photo courtesy Hobart Arena

The multi-purpose Hobart Sports Arena officially opened on September 6, 1950 with 10 sold out performances of Holiday on Ice.2  In addition, many charitable, religious, civic, and educational groups have benefited from using the facility since.1

1955-56 Troy Bruins - Manager/owner Ken Wilson on right
Photo courtesy Wikipedia

Ken Wilson, a hockey player, manager and owner from Canada became the manager at Hobart when it opened and booked and promoted many of the leading acts that appeared there.  Starting in 1951 it became the home of the Troy Bruins of the International Hockey League, which Wilson owned and operated.

Billboard ad for Hobart Arena - Oct. 2, 1954
courtesy Billboard

According to ads in Billboard magazine promoting booking at the Arena, it originally had 5,000 permanent seats and sat 6500 for Basketball and stage shows, and 8000 for wrestling.  The ice rink was 190 ft x 85 ft.  In March of 1956 Roy Acuff and Kitty Wells performed there along with Johnny and Jack.  On November 24, 1956, the third stop on a 4 day tour that November, Elvis, Scotty, Bill and DJ performed two shows to two, near capacity crowds at Hobart Arena.

Elvis Presley, the singing sensation who has been described as a cross between Johnnie Ray and Marlon Brando, and who has electrified show business just as Marilyn Monroe did when she first broke into public view, will present two shows, at 3 and 8 p.m., on Saturday, November 24, at the Hobart Arena. Elvis, a native of Mississippi, began singing as a kid.  And when his father bought him a $2.98 guitar, he learned to pick out the ballads for his own accompaniment. It was pure chance that brought him to a professional career and overnight fame.

Troy Daily News Nov. 22, 1956 courtesy TMCPL

After playing dates in Toledo and Cleveland days prior, this would be their last appearance in the State of Ohio.  The shows, in addition to Elvis' records were heavily advertised in the local paper days before with at least one store, "Standard TV," on N. Dixie Highway promoting record sales with a free ticket to the first six customers that purchased two records on the day of the show and, to a limited supply, an autographed photo with each purchase.

Troy Daily News - Nov 22, 1956
courtesy TMCPL

Whenever I go by the Hobart Arena I think of that afternoon and whoever is with me has to hear the story of when I got to see Elvis in person there,” Bonny Riddle Valencia said. “I was 15-years-old and went to Tecumseh High School. I had never been to a concert before and my parents were not too thrilled with Elvis, but I was such a fan and begged and pleaded until they agreed to let me go. I remember being in about the 10th row and jumping and screaming with all of the other girls when he finally came on stage. I can’t really remember what he sang, but the performance was everything I had hoped it would be. 3

Troy Daily News - Nov 22, 1956
courtesy TMCPL

Their appearance in Troy also coincided with the release of Elvis' first movie, Love Me Tender, earlier that week.

There was a young lady there with no shoes or socks on — all she had was her painted toenails,” former Troy Mayor Pete Jenkins said. “And it was very cold out. But she didn’t care, because the ‘King’ was in Troy.” 3

Elvis with a guitar shaped cake celebrating the release of Love Me Tender
Photo from "The Elvis Collector" courtesy FECC/stranger

It was very crowded — but my mom only had to pay $5 or $10 for the tickets, which is pretty hard to believe,” Troy resident Sherrie Davis said. “I got the tickets as a birthday gift from my mom and dad. I went with my aunt and my two sisters. I still have a scarf I bought at the show. I was a very big fan — and I still am. I’ve loved him all the way.” 3

The Troy appearances drew crowds from at least as far as neighboring Indiana.  Contrary to Sherry's recollection, to promote a quick sale, the ads specified that the first 10,000 tickets sold would sell for $2.00 each and then for $2.50 after that.  The combined attendance for both shows though was said to be 9153.

Early Arrival To See Arena Show

- These five Winchester, Ind. girls shivered this morning in order to watch Elvis (The Pelvis) Presley shake this afternoon. They left their hometown shortly after midnight and arrived at Hobart arena at 1:30 a.m. in order to be the first in line for tickets for their idol's afternoon show today. Troy policeman Dean Matthews discovered them huddled in their car in the arena parking lot and contacted arena custodian Aloya Yackels, who let the girls into the lobby to keep warm. They lined up at the ticket window, shed their shoes, and settled down for a long wait. From left to right, they are Joyce Crabtree, driver for the expedition, Loretta Monroe, Shirley Mitchell, Judy Mitchell, and Nancy O'Dell.

Troy Daily News Photo by Spitzer courtesy TMCPL

It was great. I sat down on the floor,” Joan Lambert said. “It was just fantastic. 3

Alice (Bowers) Daugherty was in the car on her way to the concert with her sister, Connie (Bowers) Ritter, when a very distinct-looking car pulled up alongside her. “We were going up Main St. and had stopped at a stop light in front of Murphy’s Dimestore,” Daugherty said. “We looked over and saw this big, pink Cadillac with a bunch of teddy bears in back. We knew it had to be him. “Anyway, the car pulled into Houser’s Garage. My sister and I probably could have pulled right in there and got his autograph. I said, ‘Let’s stop.’ But my sister said, ‘Don’t — I’m going to vomit.’ She was that nervous. And to this day, we’ve said it was one of the stupidest things we’ve ever done, not stopping. 3

Priscilla Myers backstage with Elvis - Nov. 24, 1956
Troy Daily News Staff File Photo courtesy TMCPL

Brian Petersen, in "The Atomic Powered Singer, wrote that while in Troy, Elvis kept an old date with 13-year-old Priscilla Myers. The date should have taken place in Columbus, OH the previous May but it had been postponed due to Elvis' tight schedule at the time. Priscilla and her mother, Lucille, waited behind the stage in Elvis' dressing room, where they could hear thousands of fans scream "We want Elvis." Then the door flew open and Elvis, clad in a grey plaid sports jacket, came in. "Elvis," someone started, "this is..." "I know. You are Priscilla, it's good to see you." He said hello to Mrs. Myers and sat down with Priscilla and began chatting as though with a friend of many years. This was the start of what became a 45-minute conversation between Elvis and Priscilla during which they talked about music, Elvis' first movie and other things. It was 4:30 p.m. when Elvis finally bounced onto the stage to the accompaniment of a shrill
screaming. The walls of the Hobart Arena were miraculously still standing upright when the first words of "Heartbreak Hotel" set off another wave of pandemonium.

The review in the Troy Daily News the following Monday read :

Hobart Arena Is Shrine For Elvis Presley Cult
by Emilie Grayson 

The shapes and sounds of King Elvis the Pelvis are weird indeed, and weird and strange was the emotional responses he wrung from the cult of followers who faced him for two performances at Hobart Arena Saturday.

Elvis backstage at Hobart Arena with Priscilla Myers and fans - Nov 24, 1956
Photos courtesy Brian Petersen's "The Atomic Powered Singer"

For the entire first half of each show Elvis Presley kept to his dressing room while a tap dancer, a tenor, a magic act and some acrobats served as appetizers for the audience that sat licking its chops in tense anticipation of the turkey dinner to come.

The audiences were big and colorful, with teen - agers dominating heavily the combined total of 9153 who saw the matinee and evening shows. There were vivid splashes of scarlet, blue and turquoise scattered through the tightly packed crowds and Elvis Presley hats sat cockily atop a number of the youthful heads. Pictures of the idol were passed from hand to caressing hand.

Ticket for Elvis' Show at Hobart Arena - Nov. 24, 1956
Photo courtesy web

Among the boys there were a number of carefully waved hairdo's and sweeping sideburns that duplicated the coiffure of Elvis. Among the feminine contingent there was one who proudly displayed the Presley autograph on her bare back and others who came barefooted - yes barefooted - almost as if they were making a holy pilgrimage.

DJ, Elvis and Bill (believed to be Hobart Arena, Troy, OH - Nov. 24, 1956)
Photo courtesy FECC/hilton22000

Came the magic moment when Elvis bounded regally to the stage. Protected from the clutching hands of his zealots by a cordon of grim - faced police and ushers, he wrestled the microphone into his hands, gave his hips a preliminary wiggle and was almost engulfed by the piercing shrieks of humanity tormented beyond endurance.

An account of his reception would sound like a weather report: an electrical storm of camera flashbulbs, a high thin screaming like hurricane winds and thunderous applause. Oh yes, and in some quarters the tears fell like rain . Some of his overwhelmed fans were still sobbing uncontrollably when the performances ended. And when the end did come Elvis, who has had experience with this sort of thing before, disappeared from the stage like a puff of smoke in a high wind.

Elvis onstage (believed to be Hobart Arena, Troy, OH - Nov. 24, 1956)
Photo from "Elvis Presley: The Intimate Story" courtesy Ger Rijff

Elvis sang all the songs that were expected of him (with emphasis on his latest recordings) although he could have gotten by with merely moving his lips. Every time he opened his mouth his hips got loose again and from then on the screams took over.

The most incendiary song was his little ditty "You're Nothing' But A Hounddog," but before he attempted that the police and ushers, more grim faced than ever and looking a bit dazed, joined hands to form a human chain around the stage. The shrieks of the tormented rose to a crescendo and the crowd started to surge forward by the time that happened Elvis had performed the old navy maneuver known simply as "getting the heck out of there."

Elvis onstage (believed to be Hobart Arena, Troy, OH - Nov. 24, 1956)
Photo from "Elvis Presley: The Intimate Story" courtesy Ger Rijff

What a show. Oh well, anyone who really wants to hear Elvis Presley sing can always go buy a record.

Troy Daily News Nov. 26, 1956 courtesy TMCPL

Teen-Agers Steal (Squeal) The Show
Our teen-agers put on a good show at the Hobart Arena Saturday night when Elvis Presley responded to their enthusiasm, emphasized by long and loud squeals.
In fact the youngsters, in releasing their pent-up emotions with hand-clapping and swaying motions, were the real show, as they drowned out Presley's singing, his crooning being only audible at intervals.
Reminded us oldsters of our teen-age days when girls of that time swooned and cooed over Valentino as he appeared in his smoldering love scenes on the silent screen. In those days, however, it was not the "style" to scream and squeal. It was the rolling of the eyeballs, along with the ohs and ahs. But the mental attitude was just the same- and don't kid yourself!
Ah, these teen-agers, you can't beat 'm, whether they are of today's yesterday's or the coming tomorrow's vintage. More power to them. We think they're wonderful!

Troy Daily News Nov. 26, 1956 courtesy TMCPL

Elvis onstage (believed to be Hobart Arena, Troy, OH - Nov. 24, 1956)
Photo from "Elvis Presley: The Intimate Story" courtesy Ger Rijff

Bob Littlejohn was a volunteer fireman with the Christiansburg Fire Department. To raise money for the department, the firemen would often take tickets and work security at Hobart. Littlejohn was there for both shows and remembers the females who came to see Elvis that day started to get a little out of hand.3

The young ladies were throwing all kinds of things onto the stage at him,” he said. “They were throwing brassieres, pantyhose, earrings — you name it, they threw it. During the grand finale, they had all of us come up and link arms in front of the stage, to keep the girls from rushing the stage when Elvis left.  Man, when that show was over, they came charging up. One girl bit me on the shoulder. I couldn’t believe it. It was like they would go nuts when they saw him. When they saw Elvis, they would work themselves into a tantrum. For the matinee, they had about five of us working. After the matinee, they came out and talked to the chief, Dwight Grube, and told him they would need every single one of us working security for the evening show. They must have got 20 of us out there.3

Elvis and the Jordanaires (believed to be Hobart Arena, Troy, OH - Nov. 24, 1956)
Photo courtesy FECC/hilton22000

I was surprised my mother let me go, because most people her age were a little scared of Elvis,” Shirley Gilliland said. “My cousin went with me — and her mother did not approve of Elvis, either. I still remember the concert. And whenever someone starts talking about Elvis, I always tell them, ‘I saw him!’ 3

Like Alice Daugherty, Riddle Valencia just missed out on her chance to meet Elvis. “The most ironic thing is that my mom and dad had waited outside in the car for me and when Elvis left the arena, he walked right in front of them,” she said. “They had more access to him than I did!3

Elvis onstage (believed to be Hobart Arena, Troy, OH - Nov. 24, 1956)
Photo from "Elvis Presley: The Intimate Story" courtesy Ger Rijff

I remember talking to Aloye Yackles, who worked at the arena and was in the back when Elvis left,” Jenkins said. “He told me Elvis just hopped in his car and said, ‘Let’s get the (heck) out of here.’ 3

The following night they performed in Louisville, Kentucky and would only perform once more in 1956, a Louisiana Hayride benefit in Shreveport on December 15th as had been agreed earlier in the year in order to be released from his contract early.

Overtime the Hobart Arena would also see such acts as Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Nat King Cole, Tex Ritter, Sonja Henie, Victor Borge, Liberace, Guy Lombardo, and Patti Page among many others.  The Troy Bruins played there until 1959 when Wilson and the team relocated to Greensboro, North Carolina.  The Troy Sabres, initially a senior amateur team of the Continental Hockey League and then minor pro with the All American Hockey League called the arena home from 1982 until 1988. Since 1996 it has been used by the Troy Trojans, the high school varsity hockey team.2

The enlarged Hobart Arena ice surface and new seating
Photo courtesy Miami County Visitors & Convention Bureau

Renovations to Arena were begun in April of 1997 and completed in 2001 as a result of a million dollar donation by Lucia and Robert Bravo that prompted denotations from the citizens of Troy and other groups and organizations also towards the upgrading of the facility. The restrooms and locker rooms were renovated and the arena’s ceiling was painted.   The ice surface was enlarged and new seating was installed.  The acoustics were evaluated and baffles and a new sound system were installed. The City Council paid for and installed a new electrical system and air-conditioning system.1

Main entrance to Hobart Arena
Photo courtesy Google Maps Streetview

The arena's roof and exterior areas were repaired, windows were replaced, exterior lighting was upgraded and new landscaping was added.  The main entrance and lobby were upgraded.  A rubberized floor was installed in the corridor, walls were revamped and a ceiling added.  The concession stands were relocated to make room for the constructions of the Troy Hall of Fame in the hall entrance.1

campaign rally at Hobart Arena - Oct. 23, 2008
Photo courtesy PEzra

campaign rally at Hobart Arena - Oct. 23, 2008
Photo courtesy PEzra

The arena now has 3,782 permanent seats. As a concert venue the arena can seat up to 5,282; and when used for trade shows the arena can accommodate 15,725 square feet of space. The arena contains four permanent concession stands, four dressing rooms and a referee's room, seven box-office windows, and a ceiling height of only 34 feet. 2

Since then other teams to occupy the area have been the Dayton Gems in 2002-2003, the Dayton Bombers of the East Coast Hockey league 2004-2009 and the Miami Valley Silverbacks of the Professional Indoor Football League since 2006.2

Ohio House Minority Leader John Boehner addresses the crowd - Oct 23, 2008
Photo courtesy PEzra

During the 2008 Presidential election campaign Republican Vice Presidential candidate Governor Sarah Palin attended a rally at the Hobart Arena accompanied by House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio.  Prior to Palin taking the stand, the crowd was treated to an unannounced concert by country music star Tracey Lawrence, who played his hit song "If the World Had a Front Porch." Lawrence later came back to sing again before Palin was introduced to the crowd. She arrived with her husband and two of her children and immediately launched into a discussion about the election.4

Republican VP candidate, Gov. Sarah Palin at Hobart Arena - Oct. 23, 2008
AP Photo courtesy daylife

Rep. VP candidate, Gov. Sarah Palin at a rally at Hobart Arena - Oct. 23, 2008
AP Photo/Skip Peterson

Palin touched on issues at the heart of the election and those important to residents of Ohio. She even took the time to acknowledge a veteran in the crowd from the Troy area. After speaking to the crowd for 30 minutes, she left with the crowd on their feet chanting and cheering for Palin and John McCain.4  Ohio, like many other States hit economically, voted for Obama with 51.2% of the votes.

before a Casting Crowns concert at Hobart Arena - Mar 13, 2009
Photo courtesy Sam B Hensley

Side entrance to Hobart Arena - 2007
Photo by Haltrosky courtesy Wikipedia

Over the years, the arena has hosted all types of sporting events, trade shows, conferences, concerts, etc. and the events and activities have generated millions of dollars for the Greater Troy area.1

Aerial views of Hobart Arena - 2009
Photos © Microsoft EarthData

The Hobart Arena at 255 Adams Street, Troy, OH
Photo courtesy Miami County Visitors & Convention Bureau

page added November 24, 2009

Special thanks to Patrick D. Kennedy, Archivist for the Troy-Miami County Local History Library for Troy Daily News articles and ads and for assistance with this page.

1 according to Hobart Arena - Troy OH
2 according to The official Website of the Troy Bruins
3 excerpt from "The day the King came to town - Fans fondly remember Elvis’ visit to Hobart" by David Fong Executive Editor Miami Valley Sunday News - Nov. 19, 2006
4 excerpt from "Sarah Palin Fires Up Packed House in Troy, Ohio" by Jennifer Eblin, Associated Content - Oct. 23, 2008


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