Lawrence Joel

Learn more about the American Medal of Honor Recipient for whom the Coliseum is named

Veterans Memorials

Browse the names of the Forsyth County veterans honored by the memorials outside the Coliseum

History of LJVM Coliseum

Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum has been owned by Wake Forest University since 2013 and has been the home of Demon Deacons basketball since it opened in 1989.

LJVM Coliseum, often referred to by fans as Joel Coliseum or The Joel, is the centerpiece of the Wake Forest Athletics facilities complex that also includes Allegacy Stadium and David F. Couch Ballpark. The complex is located less than three miles north of downtown Winston-Salem and one mile south of the Wake Forest campus. 

It is named for Lawrence Joel, a Winston-Salem native who in 1969 became the first African-American Medal of Honor winner since the Spanish-American War. He was presented with the medal by President Lyndon B. Johnson in recognition of his heroic actions during a firefight in Vietnam.

The Coliseum property includes Veterans Memorials paying tribute to Forsyth County veterans who died in service. Located on either side of the main entrance, 499 stone markers bear the names of fallen soldiers from World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Panama, Grenada, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

At 14,744 seats, the Coliseum is the fifth-largest indoor sports & entertainment facility in North Carolina. It was built by the City of Winston-Salem as a replacement for the aging War Memorial Coliseum, which had been located on the same property roughly in front of the new Coliseum’s main entrance. 

Built for $20.1 million and designed by Ellerbe Becket, the arena is nearly twice as large as the War Memorial Coliseum, which was located approximately in front of LJVM Coliseum’s main entrance.

LJVM Coliseum has hosted some of entertainment’s biggest names. Elton John performed three times, in 1997, 2005, and 2013. Phish performed four times, in 1994, 1995, 1997, and 1998. Widespread Panic performed five times, in 1993, 1994, 1998, 1999, and 2002. In 1997, Tina Turner performed an invitation-only concert for employees and guests of Hanes, the Winston-Salem based clothing company, for whom Turner was a national spokesperson.

The venue’s record for biggest concert event is a four-night run by Garth Brooks in March, 1998. The Sevens Tour dates sold more than 56,000 tickets. 

Other artists have included AC/DC, Billy Joel, Tina Turner, The Dave Matthews Band, Phish, Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood, Dolly Parton, Neil Diamond, Rascal Flatts.  

As the home of Wake Forest basketball, the Coliseum has provided the home court for a number of future NBA stars. The biggest is undoubtedly Tim Duncan, the Naismith award winner and No. 1 draft pick who played for the San Antonio Spurs from 1997-2016. Chris Paul was the 4th overall NBA pick in 2005 and is still active as a member of the Golden State Warriors in 2023. Other notable alumni who made the pro circuit are John Collins, Randolph Childress, Jeff Teague, Rodney Rogers, and Len Chappell.

LJVM Coliseum has hosted the first and second rounds of the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championships, in 1993, 1997, 2000, and 2007.

Since purchasing the facility and the surrounding 33 acres, Wake Forest has carried out numerous renovations including LED court lighting, high-resolution center-hung video scoreboard and ribbon boards, new sound system, and branding enhancements. Half of the Coliseum’s 18 luxury suites were renovated in 2023 with the other half slated for 2024.

Exterior photo of Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Winston-Salem, NC

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