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The Oil Palace, Tyler Texas Entertainment center’s story began in 1955 when the late Bobby Manziel, Sr. decided to build a boxing venue, east of Tyler on Highway 64. Manziel was a former professional boxer and served as a sparring partner for World Heavyweight Champion Jack Dempsey, who became his close friend.
Although Manziel became a successful businessman, he never lost his love for boxing. His plans, ambitious even by today’s standards, called for a 20,000 seat East Texas Events complex for sporting events, rodeos, livestock expositions, Concerts in Tyler Texas and other activities.
The Oil Palace, East Texas Events center would have been the only completely year-round air-conditioned coliseum in the nation. Dempsey had agreed to relocate and manage the Tyler Texas Entertainment center.
Sadly, Manziel did not live long enough to see his dream become a reality. He died in 1956 and work on the 65,000 square-foot building halted.
In 1981, Bobby Manziel, Jr. undertook the mammoth task of converting the empty structure into the vital East Texas Events complex that his father had envisioned. After years of extensive remodeling, both inside and out, the job was finished. The Oil Palace opened on October 27, 1983 with thousands on hand to watch Barbara Mandrell perform.