Venue Review: Hampton Coliseum – Hampton, VA

By Jason Herman / October 15, 2018
Hampton Coliseum

Hampton Coliseum is a multi-purpose arena in Hampton, Virginia and has hosted some very memorable concerts since it first opened in 1970. 

Experiencing a concert at this venue is like entering a time machine.  Very little has changed since it first opened its doors - there are no corporate suites or luxury boxes -  simply 14,000 general admission seats of pure unadulterated fun! Hampton Coliseum allows both artists and fans alike to strip away the layers of modern venues and gets down to the basics and the raw essence of rock & roll. The feeling in this stadium is so unique and stands out as a beloved venue for everyone who has attended a concert here.

Hampton Coliseum

1000 Coliseum Drive

Hampton, VA 23666

Venue URL:  https://www.hamptoncoliseum.org/

Capacity: 9,800 - 13,800

(Based On Configuration)

Some memorable acts who have played within this concrete stadium including the Grateful Dead (thier most infamous appearance was performing as Formerly The Warlocks), The Rolling Stones, Phish, and event Elvis Presley. This venue, affectionately referred to as "The Mothership" by Phish Phans has played host to 18 Phish shows (and counting). On October 25, 1996, Trey Anastasio of Phish said that Hampton Coliseum was “his favorite place to play”.  Two years later Phish Recorded their Hampton Comes Alive album at the coliseum. When Phish reunited in 2009 there was only one obvious choice for their tour kickoff - the beloved “Mothership.”

This concrete coliseum can be seen from Interstate I-64. At night, especially during event nights, the venue is colorfully lit with it's distinct and signature lighting.

The inside of the venue is quite simple and shows the characteristics of being designed and constructed in the 1960's.  Despite the utilitarian nature of the structure, it's storied history will always endear fans to it.

Videos

Videos

Videos


Hampton Coliseum played host to the first pay-per view concert event in 1981 when The Rolling Stones performed two nights during their 1981 American Tour.

Memorable Rolling Stones Recordings

Hampton Coliseum played host to the first pay-per view concert event in 1981 when The Rolling Stones performed two nights during their 1981 American Tour.

Memorable Phish Recordings

Performance Calendar

Performance Calendar

Performance Calendar


Please make sure to view  the Coliseum's Facebook Events Page or Website Events Page.

Essential Information

Essential Information

Essential   Information


The venue has the same essential configuration as it had when it first opened without any major overhauls or modernization projects.  As a result, EXPECT LONG LINES at bathrooms, food, and drinks kiosks.

Unlike other circular venues that have food, drink, and restrooms all around the venue this venue only has them at the sides of the venue.  The "top" and "bottom" of the venue are narrow walkways between the two sides and have no services.

Venue Entrance

Venue Entrance

Venue Entrance


There is only one venue entrance.  The entrance to the venue is located on the "water fountain side." Look for the water fountain and you will see the entrance to the venue. 

Seating

Seating

Seating


Hampton Coliseum Seating Charts

Configuration of Hampton Coliseum seating with General Admission

For most concerts, especially Phish concerts, the venue is General Admission.  There are two levels to the venue, the floor and the seated stands. Although all are General Admission, the floor is standing room only, while the stadium has seats available.

If you walk up the flight of stairs to the left or right of the main entrance it will take you to the seated stands on the mezanine level.

If you continue past the stairs leading upstairs  you will find yourself at the GA floor seating.

Accessibility

Accessibility

Accessibility


The Coliseum is an ADA compliant facility and provides a full range of accommodations for visitors.

To read more about their accessibility services please refer to the following link.

Parking

Parking

Parking


Parking is free and plentiful at the Coliseum.  If you have not been to the venue in a while, there has been a lot of construction and the parking lots have changed. Your old "favorite parking space" may now be occupied by the Convention Center. That being said, parking is plentiful.

Please refer to Hampton Coliseum’s accessible parking options.

Stage, Lighting, & Sound

Stage, Lighting, and Sound

Stage, Lighting, 

 and Sound


Hampton Coliseum Lighting

Phish's lighting at the Hampton Coliseum in October 2018

The Hampton Coliseum is a flexible, mutli-purpose venue. As a result, the stage lighting and sound is based upon what the band provides to the venue.

That being said, when a top-level nationwide music act comes through, the venue truly shines.

Food

Food

Food


Ground Level:

On the bottom level of the venue to each side is a "Food & Drink Court" 

Food is plentiful on the upper level. On opposite corners of the venue you will find a small collection of food options clustered together.

Mezzanine Level:

Food is plentiful on the upper level. On opposite corners of the venue you will find a small collection of food options clustered together.

NOTE: During full capacity events please expect long lines.

Drinks

Drinks

Drinks


There are places to purchase drinks all around the venue. Depending on how full the venue is, you can expect proportionally as long lines.

Ground Level:

There is a giant "Food & Drink Court" on the bottom level of the venue on each side whcih you can find a wide array of drink choices

Mezzanine Level:

Drinks can be found on each side of the mezzanine level with the vast majority of the drink stations are in the center of the venue underneath concrete stairs leading up to the balcony seating

NOTE: During full capacity events please expect long lines.

Restrooms

Restrooms

Restrooms


Preface: The restrooms have not been updated since the building was built. As a result many restrooms are limited to 5-7 stalls in the women's restrooms and 5-7 urinals + 3-4 stalls in the men's restrooms.  If an event is at full capacity, expect extremely long lines.

Ground Level:

There is a men's and women's restroom on each side of the venue in the "Food & Drink Court". Lines can be "challenging" and long at these restrooms. We recommend finding a position to stand near one of the four ground level general admission exits for easy access to the restrooms.

Mezzanine Level:

There are TWO restrooms for men and women on each side of the venue. 

Vending

Vending

Vending


Official vending areas have changed throuhgout the years and are based upon the performer. Posters are usually found at the vending station when you first enter the main entrance.  

Primary vending / merchandise tables can be found on each side of the ground floor next to the food & drink court.

Smoking Lounges

Smoking Lounges

Smoking Lounges


The entire perimeter of the venue is surrounded by an outdoor smoking area. However there are only two locations that attendees may enter and exit thorugh. The doors are locked from the inside so you will be required to knock and have someone let you back in.

Pre & Post Show Options

Pre & Post Show Options

Pre & Post

Show Options


Pre-Show

There are plenty of options before a performance at Hampton Colliseum. It just depneds on what you want to do.

  • For Phish fans, the Shakedown Street (aka: Food & Venros) is exceptional and has it's own dedicated parking lot.
  • If you want to spend time before the show and have a designated driver or are drinking non-alcoholic beverages  we reccomdned hanging out in Waterfront Hampton.  There are great food and drink options to share amongst friends and fellow concertgoers.  (Please refer to the 'Things To Do' Section below.)
  • If you want to stay within walking distance of the venue, the Nearby Hooters (see below) or Waffle House are good options.

Post-Show

This all depends on the act you see at the Hampton Coliseum there are a variety of options available to you for your post venue experience.

For Phish Phans, look no further than the parking lot for a vibrant and extensive "Shakedown Street" post-concert food experience. We do want to warn you that the police tend to clear out and shut down the post concert festivities in an aggressive and almost riot squad formation. When the police tell you that you have to clear the area, you clear the area.

We also recommend the Embassy Suites just north of the venue. With a large atrium and a bar, this hotel is great for hosting post-event get-togethers.

Getting There

Getting There

Getting There


We recommend using a GPS navigation unit or phone with maps on it. In particular, the highways from Richmond to Hampton are two-lanes and prone to serious delays when traffic or an accident occurs.  It is best to have a computer which tells you about delays and alternate routes.

The Hampton Coliseum is right off of US-64 which is the main thoroughfare between Richmond VA and Norfolk, VA.

For reference the best exits to use for Hampton Coliseum are:

  • Exit 263     -  US-258 / Mercury Blvd
  • Exit 265A  - LaSalle Avenue and arrive via VA-134 North Armistead Avenue

Public Transportation

Public Transportation

Public           Transportation


While DC Music Review knows there is public transportation within Hampton, we are actually talking about Public Transportation TO Hampton, VA and not the venue itself.

If you choose to do so, MegaBus provides service to Hampton, VA.

Amtrak does not service Hampton, VA. The closest stop to Hampton is their Newport News Station

Lodging

Lodging

Lodging


The first thing you may think of when planning a trip to the Hampton Coliseum is "I need a Hotel! Where do I stay?"

Well there is good news and bad news.

Good News:

  • There is no shortage of hotels within walking distance of Coliseum. Both Coliseum Drive and Mercury Drive are dotted with Hotels eager to host your visit.

Bad News:

  • The bad news, many of these hotels get completely sold out based on rumors alone (Phish Phans sometimes book 8 months in advance just based on a rumor alone.
  • However, if you don't mind driving 10-20 minutes there are dozens of hotels in neighboring Newport News and Norfolk.
Available Chains

Right next to the venue there are several hotels and motels. These tend to fill up VERY quickly. 

If you can book this hotel in advance, The Embassy Suites at 1700 Coliseum Drive is within easy walking distance to the venue and is the most modern and full service hotels on Coliseum Drive.

The following list in alphabetical order available at the time we wrote this article.. We will let you decide what type of hotel you prefer staying in.

Hotel / Chain

Website

Best Western

Courtyard

Crown Plaza

Embassy Suites

Hilton Garden Garden Inn

Holiday Inn

Red Roof Inn

Spring Hill Suites

Quality Inn

Things To Do

Things To Do

Things To Do


While you visit the Coliseum remember the line from Broadway hit Avenue Q - "There is Life Outside Your Apartment." 

Or better put, during the daylight hours before a concert, why don't you take the opportunity to explore the surrounding area outside of your hotel. We have made sure to tag some unique destinations and wonderful local watering holes.

If you have a car, we encourage you to do a little exploring. The area around the venue is quite sparse and adventure abounds. Get in your car and take in the sights, the brewpubs, and the history of the region.

  • HAMPTON
  • NORTH OF HAMPTON
  • SOUTH OF HAMPTOn

While you visit the Coliseum remember the line from Broadway hit Avenue Q - "There is Life Outside Your Apartment." Or better put, during the daylight hours before a concert, why don't you take the opportunity to explore the surrounding area. We have made sure to tag some unique destinations and wonderful local watering holes.

Tourism

Food & Drink


Additional Resources

Additional Resources

Additional

Resources


To find out more about Hampton, please refer to the city's website: https://www.hampton.gov/


Disclosure: 

DC Music Review was not paid, nor compensated to write this review of this venue nor any other entity contained therein. All opinions are based on our first hand experience of this venue.

About the author

Jason Herman

A 24x7 member and Photo Editor of DC Music Review. Jason has been passionate about music since his earliest days and is especially excited about the music scene around his adopted hometown, Washington DC. With over 35 Grateful Dead and 80+ Phish shows, and countless music festivals under his belt, you can find him at concerts around the country but especially in his adopted hometown of Washington, D.C. Before turning his lens to music, Jason followed professional cyclists around the U.S. Domestic Circuit to the tallest mountains in Europe.