The Bizarre Connection Between Christmas Tree Shops and WWE
With the recent news that Christmas Tree Shops – ahem, CST – has filed for bankruptcy and is closing some stores, including its iconic thatched-roof-and-windmill location at the base of the Sagamore Bridge, we started to think about a little piece of Tree trivia.
Did you know that, for many years, the Christmas Tree Shops corporate headquarters were located in a former arena in South Yarmouth?
OK, maybe you did – but do you know how Vince McMahon and World Wrestling Entertainment fit into the story?
It's a story that starts with a coliseum.
The Cape Cod Coliseum opened in 1972, built by Yarmouth real estate agent William Harrison for $1.5 million. The 46,000-square foot arena sat about 5,000 people for sporting events and as many as 6,500 for concerts – and there were plenty of concerts.
The Grateful Dead, KISS, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Van Halen, Rush and tons of other bands played the Coliseum during its heyday, and many soundboard and fan recordings can be found on YouTube.
Naturally, Boston-based acts Aerosmith, The Cars and J. Geils Band also performed multiple times at the venue. It sounds like it was a fantastic place to see some of the top bands in the world.
The arena also hosted multiple minor league and semi-pro hockey franchises throughout its existence, as well as local and high school sporting events, boxing, and even a few matches of the Boston Lobsters, a professional tennis team that was Robert Kraft’s first venture at owning a pro sports franchise.
The Cape Cod Coliseum was also a favorite stop of what was then known as the World Wrestling Federation, not only because of its intimate feel but still lucrative capacity, but also because Vince McMahon had a home on the Cape at the time.
Harrison eventually went bankrupt and the Coliseum was purchased by Ed Fruean in 1976, and McMahon bought the Coliseum from Fruean in 1979. At the time, he was still working for his father, Vincent J. McMahon.
In 1980, the younger McMahon and his wife Linda incorporated Titan Sports, Inc. out of the offices of the Cape Cod Coliseum, and Titan Sports later purchased the WWF from the elder McMahon in 1982.
McMahon continued to operate the facility until its final event – a WWF event, of course – on June 4, 1984. He then sold the Cape Cod Coliseum to Christmas Tree Shops, a company that began in 1970 in Yarmouth. Meanwhile, the WWF-turned-WWE continued to hold an event each summer at the Cape Cod Melody Tent for about the next 20 years or so.
There was a legend going around for quite some time that before selling the Cape Cod Coliseum, McMahon had actually offered to sell the arena to the Town of Yarmouth for the total sum of just one dollar, provided they name it the “Vince McMahon Memorial Coliseum.” As the story goes, the town refused, so McMahon then sold it to Christmas Tree Shops for a much more significant sum.
We’re not sure how much of that is true, but what is true is that Christmas Tree Shops kept its corporate offices there up until 2007, when they were moved to the company’s distribution center in Middleboro. The former Cape Cod Coliseum still stands, but now houses several businesses.
Who would have thought that the Christmas Tree Shops would have a direct connection to the very place where Vince McMahon's wrestling empire began?
Photo of Cape Cod Coliseum by Kevin Rutherford (CC-BY-SA-4.0 – no changes made)