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Tri-State Wrestling 1966 - Attendance, Ticket Prices, Local Promoters, Referees and More Miscellaneous Info

This post will finish up our look at 1966 in the territory. I am going to look at numerous interesting pieces of information found while doing my research.

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VENUES:

Fort Smith, AR - Jimmy Lott Sports Arena on Towson Ave

Joplin, MO - Memorial Hall (building is still standing; current capacity listed as 3,018)

Little Rock, AR - Robinson Auditorium (building still standing; current capacity 2,609)

Longview, TX - Gregg County Fairgrounds (capacity in 1966 was 2,500)

Monroe, LA - Roll Arena (also ran American Legion Stadium once in May and twice in August)

New Orleans, LA - Municipal Auditorium (building still standing; current capacity 7,853)

Oklahoma City, OK - Stockyards Coliseum (capacity for the original venue was 5,175; the original building was destroyed by fire in 1930 and a similar-sized venue of the same name was built on the same site the following year)

Shreveport, LA - Municipal Auditorium (building still standing; current capacity approx 3,000)

Springfield, MO - Shrine Mosque (building still standing; current capacity over 4,000)

Tulsa, OK - At the beginning of the year shows were held at the Cimarron Arena. I believe this was a venue previously known as the Akdar Theatre, which had a capacity of between 1,800 and 2,200 and was demolished at some point in the mid-to-late 60s. Starting in February shows were moved to the Assembly Center, also known as the Civic Center. This venue was opened in 1964 and is still standing with current capacity of 8,900

Wichita Falls, TX - 4-H Arena

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ATTENDANCE:

Unfortunately, there isn't much attendance data available from newspaper articles. Here are the 12 shows we have attendance figures for. All of them are likely rounded up or down to the nearest hundred. There are a couple of cases where attendance listed is more than the capacity figures listed above. Keep in mind current capacity for these venues may be very different from what they were years ago, and it's possible that the set up for a wrestling event allowed for more seats than the standard events in the venue and the capacity listed may be for those other events. I think it's fair to assume that many of these numbers represent "high marks" for the venues during the year.

2/16/66 1,800 Springfield (Kentuckians in a 2-on-3 handicap match and Assassins in a tag match)

2/23/66 3,500 Springfield (Assassins vs Kentuckians)

3/1/66 3,300 Little Rock (Assassins vs Kentuckians in a Mountaineer aka Lumberjack match)

3/8/66 2,500 Little Rock (Assassins vs Kentuckians in a Battle to the Finish)

3/13/66 3,900 Shreveport (Assassins vs Kentuckians)

3/20/66 2,500 Shreveport (Assassins vs Kentuckians Texas death match)

5/8/66 ~4,000 Monroe (Assassins vs Danny Hodge & Tiny Smith)

5/25/66 2,900 Springfield (Assassins vs Danny Hodge & Tiny Smith in a cage match with no DQ and no time limit)

7/26/66 2,000 Little Rock (Danny Hodge vs Jack Brisco)

10/12/66 1,200 Springfield (Danny Hodge vs Rocky Montero)

11/12/66 1,600 Joplin (Chris Tolos vs Jerry Kozak in a cage match)

12/21/66 2,800 Springfield (Danny Hodge vs Assassin #1)

The eight largest reported houses in the territory during the year all involved the Assassins. In fact, the Shreveport and Monroe shows listed above were afternoon shows run on the weekends instead of their regular weekday night. This way the Assassins could work the Louisiana towns as well as the other (presumably higher-drawing) towns on the loop. As we'll see when we get to ticket prices, in at least a few cases ticket prices were raised solely because the Assassins were on the card.

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BELL TIMES:

Here are the advertised start times for each town. The entire territory was in the Central time zone.

Fort Smith - 8:00

Joplin - 8:15

Little Rock - 8:15, with several shows during the summer moved to 8:30

Longview - 8:00

Monroe - 8:15, the one Saturday show started at 2:15

New Orleans - 8:30

Oklahoma City - 8:15, moved to 8:30 during the summer and 8:00 on New Year's Day

Shreveport - 8:15, moved to 8:30 during the summer, then switched to 8:00 during the fall, the three Sunday shows started at 2:15

Springfield - 8:15, 8:30 during the summer

Tulsa - 8:15, 8:30 during the summer

Wichita Falls - 8:15 from April 28th forward, believed to be 8:00 prior to that

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TICKET PRICES:

Here are advertised ticket prices for each town. Keep in mind $1 in 1966 equals approximately $7.85 today, so a $2 ticket then is equivalent to $15-$16 today.

Fort Smith - Ringside $1.50, Reserved $1.25, Gen Adm $1, Child 50c

Joplin - Ringside $1.50, Reserved $1.25, Gen Adm $1, Child 50c. Ticket prices were raised by a quarter in each tier on 2 shows in March "to get the Assassins" on the card

Little Rock - Ringside $1.50, Gen Adm 90c, Child 50c. Ringside prices were reduced by 15c on 3 shows in December.

Longview - Ringside $2, Gen Adm $1.25, Children 50c

Monroe - Ringside $1.75, Reserved $1.50, Gen Adm $1.25, Children 50c. These ticket prices were listed for two shows in January, the rest of the year the ads did not list the prices, except when they ran American Legion Stadium in May, for which ringside tickets were $2 and all other tiers were the same as in January. That May show was the only appearance of the Assassins here during the year.

New Orleans - "Popular Prices $1, $2, $3". Presumably Ringside was $3, Reserved was $2 and Gen Adm was $1

Oklahoma City - Ringside $2, Box $1.50, Reserved $1.25, Gen $1, Child 50c

Shreveport - Ringside $1.50, Res $1.25, Gen Adm $1, Child 50c. The three Sunday shows saw Ringside tickets increased by 50c and Reserved by 25c (these were the only three times the Assassins worked the town during the year).

Springfield - Ringside $1.50, Reserved $1, Gen Adm 75c, Child 50c

Tulsa - Ringside $2, Reserved $1.50, Gen Adm $1, Child 50c starting end of January. Prior to that Ringside, Reserved and Gen Adm were all 25c less.

Wichita Falls - Ringside $1.75, Gen Adm $1.25, Children 75c starting end of April. Prior to that all tiers were 25c less.

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LOCAL PROMOTERS/MATCHMAKERS

While Leroy McGuirk ran the territory, he (and most other promoters in the era) relied on local promoters for the various towns. While most of the time these local promoters were legitimate, there were some occasions where they were "front men", particularly in the case of territories where the primary promoter was an active wrestler and the territory didn't want that publicized.

Fort Smith - Promoter Jimmy Lott

Joplin - Promoter Bob Clay, who is also listed as the promoter for a spot show in Frederick OK

Little Rock - Leroy McGuirk is listed as promoter and matchmaker

Longview - Promoter & matchmaker Leonard Clay. Clay (unsure if related to Joplin promoter Bob Clay) was the promoter in Tulsa earlier in the year. I'm not sure if he stayed on as promoter in Tulsa after opening up Longview in November, but a Longview newspaper article mentions that Clay and his family were moving to Longview before the end of the year.

Monroe - Promoter Ralph Fox

New Orleans - Promoter Joe Gunther, who had been granted a license in Louisiana in August and had promoted the city previously from the early 40s through 1964.

Shreveport - Promoter Leroy McGuirk

Springfield - Promoter Leroy McGuirk

Wichita Falls - Matchmaker Bob Clay (who had taken over in 1961; prior to that, the town was part of the Amarillo territory but hadn't been run since 1958). Leroy McGuirk is listed as the promoter in one newspaper article and as "director of the NWA" in another.

In addition, Lyman Cleek is listed as Missouri State Athletic Commissioner in an article in the Joplin paper, and Sam Orchard is listed as District Wrestling Commissioner for Louisiana in an article in the Monroe paper.

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REFEREES

There were several different referees in the territory. The ones mentioned most often were Jack Gott, Larry Tillman and Leo Voss. Also listed at least once were Henry Carroll and Tommy Peterson. The Great Bolo and Al Galento each worked as a special referee on several occasions, and Wild Red Berry was the special referee for a card in Joplin on October 8th. Berry had been managing Gorilla Monsoon in Northern California, but took a vacation when Monsoon went to Japan in late September. Berry, from nearby Pittsburg KS, went home briefly before he and his wife sailed to France to visit their son, who was stationed with the US Army near Paris.

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Next week we move forward to 1967. Some of the top wrestlers coming in during '67 include Paul Jones, the Red Raiders (Dick Dunn & Billy Garrett), Chati Yokouchi & Togo Shikuma, and a newcomer who was born Jim Wehba in Wichita Falls, but would become one of the biggest stars in the territory for many years, both as a babyface and a heel, and then later as manager of a "devastating" heel stable.

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