Saturday, March 9, 2019

The Famed Tampa Sportatorium Today

While Tampa's famed Sportatorium at 106 North Albany wasn't a TV studio in the purest sense, it certainly served as one for several decades through the 1960s-1980s. This was the home of weekly television tapings of "Championship Wrestling from Florida" hosted by Gordon Solie and promoted most famously by Eddie Graham, the legendary wrestler, promoter, and at one time president of the National Wrestling Alliance.

Tampa Bay Times Photo
It was also the home office of Deep South Sports, Inc., the company run by Graham that presented live wrestling events throughout the Sunshine State.

This article below, by Thad Moore (then at the Tampa Bay Times, now at the Charleston Post & Courier), talks about the recent auction of the property (2016) and the ghosts that still haunt 106 North Albany.

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Tampa's Sportatorium sells for $695,000, to become piano conservatory 
By Thad Moore, Times Staff Writer
Published February 27 2016, Updated February 28 2016

TAMPA — They sat in folding chairs and stood in the back of a worn-out warehouse, all eyes trained on the center of the room, looking for a few minutes of spectacle.

"Let's get ready to rumble!" Vincent Gess shouted into a microphone.

In a sense, the crowd offered a return to form for the building just off W Kennedy Boulevard. The nondescript stucco structure at 106 N Albany Ave. was the site of Tampa's Sportatorium, where throngs of fans would show up for weekday wrestling matches, among the first to be televised around the country.

But instead of seeing one last fight, the weekend crowd came to watch the building — and a slice of Tampa's history — be auctioned off.

--> Read the rest of the story on the Tampa Bay Times website. 

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Contact Thad Moore at or (813) 336-3434. Follow @thadmoore.

Original article on Tampa Bay Times website:

Monday, March 4, 2019

Nick Pond Serves as Guest Ring Announcer (1967)

A nice local write-up in the Wilson, NC, newspaper in 1967 for a spot show at Fleming Stadium. Of note here is the mention that WRAL sportscaster Nick Pond would be the guest ring announcer.

"Championship Wrestling" host Nick Pond (right)
with former boxing champ Joe Louis
Pond was weekly host of the Raleigh-only version of the wrestling show taped every Wednesday night in the studios of WRAL TV channel 5 in Raleigh. The Raleigh version of the show was called "Championship Wrestling", and aired only on channel 5, while the syndicated version that went to other markets was called "All Star Wrestling" and was hosted by WRAL weather/sportscaster Bob Caudle.

Also of note is the mention of the previous card in Wilson at Fleming Stadium drawing 5000 people, a huge number, especially in those days, for a spot show in a small town.

The card mentioned in this write-up was scheduled for August 18, 1967. There was an error in the third paragraph that apparently omitted some words. The "good guy" team in the six man tag match main event was George Becker, Johnny Weaver, and the Amazing Zuma.

For more posts on Nick Pond click this link and scroll down the page.

Special thanks to Mid-Atlantic Gateway contributor and ace researcher Mark Eastridge for noticing the mention of Nick Pond in this newspaper article.