The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is in the midst of perhaps the largest renovation in its storied history. Work has been taking place since the end of last season on an overhaul that, when complete in 2019, will reflect modern college football fan interests while preserving some of the stadium’s iconic touches.
Back in 2015, USC first unveiled plans for what was then estimated as a $270 million renovation to the LA Memorial Coliseum (the price tag was recently estimated to be around $300 million). While improving technology, the renovation is also leading to changes that will reduce the Coliseum’s capacity but allow for a wider array of seating options. In addition, a new name is on the way as a 16-year, $69-million naming-rights agreement with United Airlines—the first naming-rights partner in Coliseum history—will lead to the facility becoming United Airlines Memorial Coliseum beginning in 2019.
The new name, along with the finishing touches of the renovation, will be evident in 2019. In the meantime, some changes to the Coliseum will be noticeable in 2018.
The reduction in seating capacity is a gradual one, as the Coliseum will see its capacity drop from the over 93,000 figure that was in effect in 2017. Ongoing renovations are expected to lower the seating capacity to around 80,000 this year, with the completely renovated Coliseum slated to seat 77,500 starting in 2019.
With this move, the Coliseum will see a trend that other college football stadiums have experienced in recent years. As programs place a greater emphasis on the array of seating options as opposed to capacity in their seating, many stadium renovations have resulted in reduced capacities in favor of more premium areas and increased comfort in the seating bowl.
For the Coliseum, the main highlight in this aspect of the renovation will be the Scholarship Club Tower—a new structure on the stadium’s south end. When completed, the Scholarship Club Tower will consist of multiple levels, including premium seating and a press box. That portion of the stadium will remain under construction until the renovation is complete in 2019, though temporary press boxes are being installed on the south end this season for media and other personnel.
Also new for 2018 will be standing decks, with one each located in the southeast and northeast corners. The standing areas will be open for students and Trojan Athletic Fund Scholarship Club donors, and feature concession areas.
The finished Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum renovation will result in the aforementioned seating upgrades, along with improved lighting, Wi-Fi, and new videoboards. The history of the Coliseum will be honored as well, as the stadium’s famed peristyle will be restored to better reflect the facility’s original look.
Originally opening in 1923, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum has a unique history. It has hosted two Super Bowls, two Summer Olympics (with a third slated for 2028), and a World Series. For the next two years, the Coliseum will play host to both USC and the NFL’s Rams. The Rams will continue playing there while awaiting the completion of their new stadium in Inglewood, which is currently slated to open in 2020.
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