Downtown North Tour
New Haven Arena
10–40 Grove Street
New Haven Arena, c. 1951. Courtesy New Haven Museum.
One of the most important figures in the history of American sports got his start at this spot, on the southeastern corner of Orange and Grove Streets. Maurice Podoloff arrived from Elizabethgrad, Russia in 1890 when he was three months old. He and his brothers Nathan, Jacob and David all went to Yale. Maurice graduated from Yale in 1913, and in 1915 received a law degree. With his brother Nathan and father Abraham, Maurice took over the bankrupt, partially built New Haven Arena. He completed the construction with Nathan in 1927. Soon it became the leading venue in New Haven for hockey, basketball, boxing, wrestling and other sporting events. A local favorite was the annual arrival of the circus train, with the elephant parade up State Street from Union Station to the Arena. The Arena held over 4,000 people. The Arena hosted the American Hockey League’s New Haven Eagles from 1936 to 1951, the New Haven Blades of the Eastern Hockey League from 1954 to 1972 and Yale Hockey from 1927 to 1959. They also featured orchestras from the Big Band era, such as Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey and Benny Goodman. Later, The Rolling Stones, the Kinks, Bob Dylan, The Doors, Joan Baez, the Supremes, the Temptations and many music icons held concerts at the Arena as well. Jacob Podoloff ran the Arena until 1972 when it was purchased by the City. It was replaced as a venue in 1973 by the New Haven Coliseum and the Arena was demolished in 1974.
Maurice brought professional hockey to New Haven. He was the head of the American Hockey League from the 1930s to 1952. He was also the president of the Basketball Association of America, and became the first president of the NBA when the BAA merged with the National Basketball League. He was later inducted into the National Basketball Hall of Fame. The NBA’s Most Valuable Player award trophy is named in honor of Podoloff, who died in 1985 at the age of 95.
- Text source courtesy Jewish Historical Society of Greater New Haven Archives.
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