In the spring of 1946, the Junior Grand National was established to
encourage the youth of California in their livestock projects. In December of
1947, inter-collegiate basketball came to the arena, beginning the Cow Palace's
nationwide reputation as a major sports arena. In 1948, the Ringling Bros.
Barnum & Bailey Circus started its tenure as the Cow Palace's oldest
In 1949 legislation was passed officially opening the facility to general
public use. In October of that year, the Cow Palace was host to the U.S.
Heavyweight Boxing Championship. From then on, all manner of events came to the
arena, such as ice shows, political conventions, Roller Derby, tennis,
wrestling, professional basketball, and ice hockey.
Other Cow Palace highlights include appearances by the
Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Liberace, the Billy Graham Crusade (with
attendance of 696,525), John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Evel Knievel,
the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Elvis Presley. In addition to these, the
Cow Palace has been the host of many successful sold-out concerts. Some of the more
memorable are those by the Grateful Dead, the Who, the Doors, Rod Stewart,
Santana, ZZ Top, Yes, Metallica, Paul McCartney & Wings, Neil Diamond,
Elton John, U2, and Prince.
The long term tenants of the Cow Palace include the Ringling Bros. Barnum
& Bailey Circus, the San Francisco Sport & Boat Show, the Golden Gate
Kennel Club Dog Show, Body Art Expo, Dickens Christmans Fair and Disney on Ice. In addition it is home to the Grand National Livestock Exposition, Horse Show & Rodeo.