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Barton Coliseum in Little Rock, AR


History of Barton Coliseum:

T. H. Barton Coliseum is a 7,150-seat multipurpose arena, located within the Arkansas State Fairgrounds. It was named after Colonel Thomas H. Barton. He was an El Dorado oilman and philanthropist. He launched a small, struggling oil company, Lion Oil, into a major oil company.

Barton had an interest in livestock. He worked on his family farm as a boy. As an adult, he worked closely with the Arkansas Livestock Show Association and helped established the Arkansas State Fair. It was his financial support that built the Barton Coliseum.

Barton Coliseum was dedicated September 29, 1952.

Barton Coliseum Then:

Barton Coliseum was once the major venue for big name music acts. The acoustics were less than perfect, but it was the only spot for acts bigger than Robinson Arena, but too small for War Memorial Stadium. Acts like Elvis, Van Halen, the Jackson Five and Grand Funk Railroad all performed there. Lynyrd Skynyrd was scheduled to play Oct. 22, 1977, two days before Ronnie Van Zant died in plane crash.

Barton used to be general admission for concerts and people would line up in advance to get a good seat. You could, if fast enough, get right up next to the stage. This was before the days of scalped first row seats.

It was also always the home to the Arkansas State Fair Rodeo, circuses, graduations, basketball games and the like.

Barton Coliseum Now:

Now, the coliseum is largely unused. Some schools still use it for graduations, but most are moving to Verizon Arena.

It's also home some events at the Arkansas State Fair. Since there is no longer a Arkansas State Fair Rodeo, it hosts bull riding and other events associated with the Arkansas State Fair.

Most of the other events previously held at Barton Coliseum, like circuses, monster truck rallies and graduations, are now held at Verizon Arena, in North Little Rock.

In 2013, it was cleaned up and became the temporary home of the The Arkansas High School State Finals basketball tournament. Many people who attended were impressed at the remodel. The complaints cam from the noise level at the venue (apparently it as very loud, and was almost impossible for the media to interview coaches and athletes). However, students commented that the venue allowed for a more intimate experience, because they got to be right next to the action on the court.

The Arkansas State Fair:

The Arkansas State Fair is held every year in October. There was some talk about moving the fair from the fairgrounds, since the area is considered a "bad area" by many locals. However, the board has not decided to move the Arkansas State Fair at this time. The State Fair is at the State Fairgrounds, located off of Roosevelt Road in Little Rock. Read more.


Barton Coliseum is located on the State Fairgrounds Complex, at 2600 Howard St, Little Rock, AR 72206.

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