After an earlier naming-rights deal for Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum prompted backlash, USC and United Airlines have reached a deal to rename the venue’s playing field.
In early 2018, it was revealed that United Airlines and USC had agreed to a 16-year, $69-million naming-rights contract to rename Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum the United Airlines Memorial Coliseum. The agreement, which was not to go into effect until August of this year, was viewed as a way to open up a new revenue source for USC as it worked on a multi-phase renovation to the Coliseum that is slated to wrap up before the 2019 college football season.
However, the agreement wound up eliciting criticism because it would result in the “Los Angeles” component of the facility’s name being replaced by a corporate sponsor, which detractors of the planned renaming argued would go against the venue’s original intention as a memorial to local veterans of World War I. After discussion, USC and United Airlines came to terms on a playing field naming-rights agreement that was announced Friday.
Under the terms of the deal, the Coliseum will officially become United Airlines Field at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The agreement will run for 10 years, but financial terms have not been disclosed. More from the Los Angeles Times:
Under the terms of a previous agreement announced in 2018, United would pay USC $69 million over 16 years to have the Coliseum named United Airlines Memorial Coliseum. But that deal came under scrutiny this spring when Janice Hahn, president of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission, started a campaign to preserve the name out of respect for the building’s history as a war memorial.
“Unlike other modern sports venues, Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is not just a stadium — it is a war memorial,” Hahn wrote in a March 25 op-ed in the Los Angeles Times. “Removing ‘Los Angeles’ and replacing it with a corporate sponsor insults the memories of those the Coliseum was intended to honor.”
Days after Hahn’s op-ed, Janet Lamkin, president of United in California, reportedly offered to step away from its partnership with USC and end the agreement, which was vital to the school’s financing of a $315-million renovation of the nearly century-old landmark.
The revised deal will be for 10 years instead of 16.
According to a press release, USC and United Airlines will collaborate to find “additional ways to honor local veterans including providing support for veterans who attend USC as well as erecting a memorial in honor of veterans at the Coliseum.”
The Coliseum was originally completed in 1923, and has been home to USC football throughout its history. It has also been used for NFL action, and will host the Rams through the 2019 season as the team awaits the 2020 completion of a new stadium in Inglewood. For more on the history of the Coliseum, see this 2016 story from our own Jesse Goldberg-Strassler.
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