When Moody Coliseum opened in 1956, it was one of the largest structures of its kind. It has been home to exciting athletic events, academic ceremonies, concerts and performances – an SMU asset shared with the Dallas community.
SMU men’s basketball moved into Moody in time for the 1956-57 season, filling the arena with fans after the team’s first and only NCAA Final Four appearance at the 1956 tournament.
In the decade that followed Moody’s opening, SMU, led by legendary coach E.O. “Doc” Hayes, won six Southwest Conference championships and made six NCAA Tournament appearances. In the 1984-85 season, SMU again rose to national prominence, staying in the Associated Press Top Ten for most of the season and earning a spot in the NCAA tournament.
Women’s basketball came to Moody Coliseum in 1976. The Lady Mustangs won the Western Athletic Conference title there in 1999 and the Conference USA title in 2008. Women’s basketball clinched the C-USA championship again on March 3, 2012, in the final event in Moody Coliseum before renovation began. Women’s volleyball began in Moody in 1996. In 2010, Mustang volleyball set a school record with 25 wins, including an 11-2 mark at home in Moody Coliseum. Legend has it that “Moody Magic” contributes to consistent wins at home for Mustang teams.
Each May and December the coliseum is transformed to host SMU Commencement as well as graduation ceremonies for thousands of area high school students. SMU Commencement speakers have included former First Lady and SMU graduate Laura Bush, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, journalists Jim Lehrer and Bill Moyers and Oscar-winning actress and SMU graduate Kathy Bates. Four U.S. presidents have spoken at Moody Coliseum: Richard Nixon, Gerald R. Ford, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush. Poet T.S. Eliot also spoke to audiences there. Other events such as installation of United Methodist Church bishops and Highland Park United Methodist Church Easter services have taken place at Moody.
Moody Coliseum also has been the venue for entertainers such as the Kingston Trio, the Rolling Stones, John Denver, Three Dog Night, the Grateful Dead, Queen, U2 and Pearl Jam.
Dallas’ first professional basketball team, the Chaparrals, played most of its home games at Moody from 1967-73 before the team moved to San Antonio and was renamed the Spurs. From 1971 to 1979, Moody hosted one of the biggest tennis championships of the year, the World Championship Tennis Finals, a season-ending eight-player tournament to decide the champion of the men’s professional tennis circuit. All-time greats such as Arthur Ashe, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors and Rod Laver dueled before packed houses at Moody and national television audiences. The tournament was moved to Reunion Arena in 1980, but Moody continued to host exhibitions between stars such as Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras into the 1990s. The Virginia Slims of Dallas Tennis Championships and the Rolex Intercollegiate Indoor Tennis Tournament also were held at Moody Coliseum.
Younger athletes also have polished their skills there. Cheerleading, basketball and volleyball camps, Boy Scout conferences and fundraising dance marathons have taken place at Moody Coliseum through the years.