Rendering of the exterior of the $270-million facelift for Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (The Coliseum) is getting a long-overdue facelift. A big-money naming rights deal will follow, reportedly with United Airlines, though that is not confirmed as of now.
Capacity will go from 93,607 to 77,500 due to such improvements as added aisles, widened seats and increased legroom in many sections and the construction of a new Scholarship Club Tower on the stadium’s south side that will include suites, loge boxes, club seats, a new concourse and a new press box. With 16,000 seats removed, a reseating of current season ticketholders will be necessary.
Built in 1923, The Coliseum is a Los Angeles institution. Currently, the venue is the home of the University of Southern California (USC) Trojans football team and temporary home to The Los Angeles Rams who have been playing at the facility since 2016, and just picked up their option for the 2019 season due to delays in the construction of their new home in Inglewood, Calif.
The renovation is being funded entirely by USC Athletics from The Coliseum restoration gifts, sponsorship revenue, non-USC events at The Coliseum and donor-naming opportunities. It will not require any student fees or general university, local, state or federal funds. With an annual budget of $100 million, USC Athletics is one of just seven self-sustaining National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) Division I programs in the nation, which means it receives no funding from tax appropriations or student fees.
Naming rights have been explored since 2013 when USC took possession of the building but stalled out. “Prior to USC taking over management of the building, the Coliseum Commission had already reached out to solicit a naming rights deal with many companies but nothing ever came to fruition. It then became our right to pursue a deal,” said Joe Furin, GM, Los Angeles Coliseum.
Although on the stove since 2013, over the last six months, with the renovation plans well underway, USC moved getting a sponsor to the front of the burner. “We had to really understand the exposure and the assets we had before aggressively moving on it,” he said. “The renovations definitely have moved the needle on what a package could be worth.”
It’s been reported that United Airlines is close to a deal to nab the naming rights — $70 million dollars for 15 years — but Furin was unable to confirm the reports yet.
“The news that’s out is premature. Nothing is finalized yet by any means,” said Furin. He did verify that the venue “has been in discussions with multiple corporate partners but no deal has been agreed upon yet.”
A Trojan and Traveler, the horse, revving up the crowd at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
The renovations will be done in phases. In April they removed the video boards to make way for brand-new high-def boards.
The next phase will commence January 2018, to be completed prior to the 2019 season and will involve improvements to the south tower, which includes the premium spaces, suites, club seats, a new press box and a complete restoration of the historic peristyle — the famed arches — the replacement of 75,000 seats, increased WiFi and new railings.
Rendering of the Otis Booth Press Box in Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
The press box already has a name — The Otis Booth Press Box, named after the late Franklin Otis Booth, Jr., a newspaper executive, investor and rancher. He is the great grandson of General Harrison Gray Otis, founder of the Los Angeles Times. Booth’s commitment to philanthropy during his life has benefited many institutions in the Los Angeles area.
“The Otis Booth Foundation is proud to once again support USC in the renovation of one of the most iconic landmarks in the United States,” said Palmer Murray, vice president of the Otis Booth Foundation. “The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum has a special place in history and we felt this was a wonderful opportunity to honor Otis’ legacy, as he so passionately supported the City of Los Angeles.”
“The improvements will really turn this old building into a modern state-of-the-art facility,” said Furin. “The Rams will get the benefit, the fans will benefit and we’ll hopefully get another 94 years out of the venue.”