The appetite for a high-end game-day experience at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum has resonated with the University of Southern California’s biggest donors. As university officials prepare to kick off construction of the stadium’s $270 million renovation, they’re close to a sellout of new premium seat inventory that will open for the 2019 season.
As of this week, Legends Global Sales, the Pac-12 Conference school’s sales agency, has one Founders Suite and fewer than 100 club seats remaining to sell for the Scholarship Club Tower, said Steve Lopes, USC’s senior associate athletic director. The seven-story tower is going up on the stadium’s south side.
Until this project, designed by DLR Group, the venerable coliseum has gone for decades without a major retrofit. The stadium opened in 1923, and the seating bowl has gone largely untouched since that time, with the exception of some repairs and upgrades after a 1994 earthquake. Now, almost five years after USC took over stadium operations upon signing a 99-year lease with the Los Angeles Coliseum Commission, the school is getting the building up to speed with other college football facilities.
“This project has been a long time coming,” Lopes said. “To this point, there has been no [permanent] premium product at the coliseum. It’s paying for the majority of the project cost, almost $200 million.”
The changes will reduce the stadium’s seated capacity from 92,000 to about 77,500.
The 20 Founders Suites, distributed between two levels above the lower concourse, are the highest-priced inventory. They’re all seven-figure deals tied to 20-year terms. Some cost $10 million. The last one available is priced at $7.5 million, Lopes said. The 24-seat suites are the tower’s only all-inclusive product, covering food and drink and parking.
The 22 traditional suites, situated on the sixth floor, one level below the new press box, have sold out. Buyers made a one-time capital payment of $300,000 to $500,000 and pay an annual fee of $100,000.
The 24 loge boxes sold out as well. They’re mostly four-seaters, one level above the Founders Suites. Loges carry a one-time payment of $200,000 to $250,000, plus annual costs of $50,000.
The 1,100 club seats, on the fifth level, have one-time payments of $25,000 and annual costs of $30,000 to $50,000.
The rooftop terrace at the top of the tower stands out for its location and flexibility. There are no fixed seats. Instead, it’s a combination of bar stools, drink rails and shaded areas with views to the game. The terrace can accommodate 500 people, but to this point, season ticket prices have not been determined, Lopes said.
The concept is similar to the rooftop space at Levi’s Stadium, according to Don Barnum, a principal with DLR Group and its global sports leader. At the coliseum, the idea is to create a casual lounge setting. The vision is to develop a downtown LA club vibe for the younger crowd, which is more interested in socializing than watching the game, Barnum said.
The 360-degree views are spectacular from the rooftop, extending to downtown Los Angeles as well as the Pacific Ocean, Catalina Island and the San Gabriel Mountains, said Joe Furin, the coliseum’s general manager.
“It’s one of the best kept secrets,” Furin said. “It’s a stunning view from that height.”
USC has scheduled a ceremonial groundbreaking for Jan. 29 at the coliseum during which 100 to 150 donors are expected to attend, as well as Los Angeles Rams executives, Furin said. The Rams play the next two years at the stadium before moving to their new $2.6 billion facility in Inglewood, meaning the Rams will play one season in the coliseum after the premium additions are complete.
The project is to be built within a tight 18-month construction schedule. During football season, crews will work Monday through Friday and stop on the weekends for Trojans and Rams games. About one-third of the stadium will be closed to the public during construction, Furin said.