Losing Fort Neverlose
Michael Leboff

This is an outstanding article and clearly written from the heart. Well done.

As a life-long Blackhawks fan, my family had to deal with a similar loss here in Chicago when the Old Barn, the Madhouse on Madison, the Chicago Stadium was torn down way back in 1994. It was truly heart breaking! The ceremonial patch slogan, “Remember the Roar” was penned perfectly for the “Stadium” as no Hawks fan ever referred to it as “Chicago” Stadium as I we all knew it belonged to the world not just the Windy City.

The Chicago Stadium was exactly the opposite of Nassau Coliseum. Built in a once thriving near West Side area just outside downtown Chicago, the building was built way back in 1929 with little expense spared to make it the ultimate showplace of the Midwest.

The Madhouse featured the most amazing oversized organ that extended over one end of the Stadium where famous organist Al Melgard (Melgard, who lost his left index finger in an accident as a youngster, was nonetheless a highly acclaimed musician and played the Stadium’s world-famous Barton theater organ masterfully. He played at nearly two thousand Chicago Blackhawks hockey games and over four hundred Chicago Bulls basketball games, as well as hundreds of professional boxing matches and countless other Chicago Stadium events) played from the early ‘30's through 1974.

LOUD was Chicago Stadium’s most famous resident. The all-brick building and the lack of end zone seating kept the noise contained and constant and when Bobby Hull would score another one of his 610 NHL goals, the vibration of the Stadium would scare young kids like me who thought the building was collapsing?

Once Chicago Stadium was closed, I vowed not to attend Blackhawks games at the new United Center in 1994, and that lasted about a 1/2 season until I received free Hawks vs. Red Wings tickets. It was heartbreaking to walk into a new building to see the Indianheads at a sterile, corporate-clustered cold building. However, after not standing in line to use the urinals, being able to get a beer in under three minutes and having room to actually sit in my seats, the comforts started gaining momentum.

Today, I am a season ticket holder with the Blackhawks. I really LIKE the United Center. It’s a comfortable building with a ton of positives that make attending a home game fun.

I sorely miss the Chicago Stadium. With all due respect to Fort Neverlose, there was never a better place to experience the rawness and brashness of “hockey” than the Madhouse on Madison.

Ultimately, you will get over the loss. You won’t ever forget the Coli, but the Barc will grow on you just like the United Center had grown on Hawks fans.


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