There were 30 cars in the line to get into the Charlotte Coliseum parking lot Sunday at 9:15 a.m. Traffic moved slowly and sometimes not at all. It was like the old days when traffic was clogged because the New York Knicks were in town. That people cared about the Knicks attests to how old those old days were.
Adults, kids, old dogs and a Beagle puppy came to see the Coliseum come down. Some dressed in church clothes, some in rain clothes and some in biker clothes.
Despite the Knicks-Charlotte Hornets analogy, it wasn’t like being at a game. It was like being at a drive-in movie. Fans of the Coliseum and of explosions got comfortable in their cars or looked for a vantage point that offered a better view. I ran into so many people I know, most of whom had come to say goodbye.
When the implosion was pushed back 30 minutes to 10:30 a.m., I drove around the building, encountering hundreds of people with cameras and video recorders in every parking lot along the way.
The media entrance through which we entered the past 19 years was closed, so I drove to the Raycom sports building, which offered a great view of the Coliseum and of the VIPs below. I saw a lot of khaki among the VIPs. Everybody is wearing khaki to implosions this summer.
Then came sirens and countdowns and then it was time. There were a series of blasts, each amazingly loud. There was a cadence to them, like a big man hitting a heavy bag the same way at the same interval every time.
There were at least 15 blasts. Then the building crumbled and everybody cheered. Then came dust, just a wall of dust. Few of the spectators left. The present had been unwrapped; what was inside?
When the dust faded, everybody cheered again. Rubble! Hooray.
The sight and the sequence that led to it really were remarkable. It had been a long time since the Coliseum got anybody excited. I was happy the building could do that one last time.