When the Los Angeles Rams open their NFL season this fall at the Los Angeles Coliseum, it will be more than just a return to the market, it will be like a trip back in time, to the days when luxury suites didn’t dominate the skyline and high-end amenities weren’t expected by fans.
The Coliseum opened in 1923. Since then it’s been home to generations of Trojans, Bruins, Rams (whose original tenure at the Coliseum ran from 1946 to 1979, after the team’s departure from Cleveland and before a shift to Anaheim) and Raiders. Olympic Games have been celebrated there, and even the Los Angeles Dodgers played there once upon a time, after Brooklyn and before Dodger Stadium.
Over the years it’s been relatively unchanged, save for some seat replacements and additional concession stands. The locker rooms are old-school — open, small cubbies in a cramped area — and the group meeting areas are nonexistent. From The New York Times:
“For all intents and purposes, it’s as it was when it was built,” said Joe Furin, the coliseum’s general manager, who worked as an intern 30 years ago at the adjacent Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. So little has changed over nearly a century at the stadium, he joked, that a lot of people might have the same key he used to unlock the main gate.
The classic peristyle archways that give the coliseum its distinctive look are still topped by an Olympic caldron. The gas flame is lit by an operator between the third and fourth quarters of U.S.C. games with the push of the “Main Burner On” button…..
“We were upfront — we’re their guests for three years,” said Kevin Demoff, the chief operating officer of the Rams. “We always knew that in coming back, we’d be playing temporarily in a stadium designed in the early part of the 20th century, whether it was the coliseum or the Rose Bowl. And we like that it hasn’t changed since the Rams first played there in 1946 and it’s the same place as it was when Merlin Olsen and the Fearsome Foursome were playing there.”
He added, “The nostalgia outweighs the lack of modern amenities.”
Nostalgia can only take you so far. In a way, the Rams will be helping USC, which is raising funds for a Coliseum renovation that will install new seating closer to the field, erect a new suite/press box facility, and restore the stadium’s original entryway, removing the end-zone scoreboards. Alas, the improvements won’t be done until the 2019 season at the earliest — and by that time the Rams expect to be playing at a new stadium in Inglewood.