Norfolk Scope
Norfolk Scope is a 12,600-seat multipurpose arena at the northern perimeter of downtown Norfolk, Virginia, designed by Italian architect/engineer Pier Luigi Nervi in conjunction with the local firm of Williams and Tazewell. Construction on Scope on Brambleton Avenue began in June 1968 and was completed in 1971 at a cost of $35 million USD. Federal funds covered $23 million of the cost.

The design of the arena is similar to Nervi's Palazzetto dello sport built in 1958 for the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. Noted for pioneering work in reinforced concrete, Nervi received acclaim similar to that currently given Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.

With a concrete monolithic dome measuring 440 ft (134 m) in diameter and a height of 110 ft (33.5 m), the dome was, at the time of its construction, the largest of its kind in the world. (After the demolition of the larger Kingdome in 2000, Scope reclaimed the title as having the world's largest concrete dome.) Supported by 24 flying buttresses, the arena roof encloses 85,000 sq ft (7,900 m 2).

The arena complex won the 2003 Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects Test of Time award.

The arena's seating can range from 13,800 concert-configured, down to 10,253 for sporting events.

The arena itself is part of a complex that includes the venue itself, Chrysler Hall (a music and theater venue, home to the Virginia Symphony Orchestra), an Exhibition Hall and a large plaza over a parking garage.

One of the building's first presentations was the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, when a bear escaped its cage and ran across the wet paint on the floor of the unfinished Exhibition Hall. The first presentation in the Exhibition Hall was the Hampton Roads Automobile Show, where visitors could spot bear tracks in the painted floor, between the exhibitions. 

The Scope complex was an important part of the first phase of Norfolk's post WWII revitilzation. A large section of downtown was razed, and the Scope complex was to "anchor" the northern corner of downtown, with the Vincent Kling designed Courthouse and Civic complex anchoring the Eastern edge of downtown.

Scope is currently home to the Norfolk Admirals of the American Hockey League, seating 8,725 for hockey. It has hosted the Admirals since the team began in the East Coast Hockey League in 1989, and stayed as the home arena as the franchise moved up to the AHL in 2000. In previous years, Norfolk Scope was home to an arena football team, the Norfolk Nighthawks, the former Norfolk Knights and the now-defunct American Basketball Association (ABA) professional basketball franchise Virginia Squires. The Squires played at Scope, the Roanoke Civic Center, Richmond Coliseum and Hampton Roads Coliseum (now Hampton Coliseum) – all within the state of Virginia – from 1971 to 1976. Norfolk Scope also served as venue of the 1974 ABA All-Star Game. The arena was home to Old Dominion University men's college basketball, until the campus' own 8,639-seat (basketball) arena, the Ted Constant Convocation Center, opened in Norfolk in October 2002. Wrestling.

Concerts The Rolling Stones performed at the Scope during their 1972 North American Tour on July 5, 1972. David Bowie performed at the Scope during his Isolar Tour on March 12, 1976 & on two consecutive nights during his Serious Moonlight Tour on August 24-25, 1983. Queen performed at the Scope during their News of the World Tour on November 25, 1977. Metallica performed at the Scope during their Damaged Justice tour in 1989.


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Building Activity

  • Robin Schoppe
    Robin Schoppe commented
    Scope almost went out of use. City does not support it like they should. I would really miss this structure.
    about 5 years ago via Mobile
  • updated a digital reference
    about 5 years ago via Annotator
  • Blue Lab Rob
    Blue Lab Rob commented
    Always an intriguing building. Its design truly rivals its contemporaries.
    about 6 years ago via iPhone