All we did was make mention in a recent Ticker of an industrial building for sale on Barlow Street in Traverse City. Little did we know that the non-descript metal building would generate so much interest and so many fantastic stories from the 1970s.
The building was known as the “Glacier Dome” back then, and is said to have been the first indoor ice rink in town and a venue for concerts by superstar musical acts like Bob Seger, Styx, Johnny Cash and Rush.
And KISS. Almost.
David Eggli of Traverse City remembers seeing Styx, who was relatively unknown when they played in Traverse City.
“It wasn’t a very large arena, so it was a pretty intimate setting for the bands they got at the time,” he said. The venue, which was also called the Glacier Arena, seated 5,000 for its concerts.
Eggil also had tickets to see KISS but after Styx, the opening band, blew out the sound system, the KISS show was canceled.
Carol Tompkins-Parker remembers people holding up their disposable lighters to try to convince the worldwide phenomenon KISS onstage.
“It was kind of disappointing that you came to see this band and just saw the backup band,” she reflects. “But the backup band was really good.”
Arne Sarya, whose father, the late Arnold Sarya, owned the Glacier Dome, recalls they had to get the crowd out of the building quickly.
“There were plenty of boos and hisses and some people threw things,” he says. “We didn’t need the riot police, but it was all they could do to keep the peace without them tearing the building apart.”
Among the other artists to perform there were Hall & Oates, Dolly Parton, Bob Hope, REO Speedwagon and Brownsville Station, he said.
Lissa Edwards had grown up in Maryland and was living on-campus at Northwestern Michigan College when she saw Gordon Lightfoot at the Dome just after he released “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”
“I’d seen lots of concerts by then in Washington, D.C.,” said Edwards, who now lives in Glen Arbor, and even remembers she was wearing painter pants to the show. “So it was a quaint feeling to be on bleachers in this tiny arena and seeing a concert.”
Detroit Red Wings legend Gordie Howe, a former TC resident, helped promote hockey there, Sarya adds.
The elder Sarya, who died in 2011, was a local orthodontist who opened the rink to give kids something to do. He had considered putting it at Chum’s Corner, but decided on the Barlow location to be within walking distance for more people.
Eggli’s fondest memories of the Dome have to do with playing drop-in hockey in the mornings and attending the Traverse City Bays hockey games. The Bays were a semi-pro team that played there from 1975 to 1977.
“We’d hand out programs as kids and get free admission,” he said.
Dr. Sarya sold the building and auctioned off the equipment in 1982. It is now listed for sale with David Frost of Three West Real Estate.