We end 2019 with a countdown of the five biggest stories of the year on Football Stadium Digest, as chosen by editors and partially based on page views. Today, #1: USC unveils a $315-million renovation of the LA Memorial Coliseum.
The historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum now compares more closely to modern college football facilities, thanks to a $315-million renovation project completed in 2019.
Originally opening in 1923, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum has been used for two Olympic games, college football, NFL, and MLB action, along with other notable events. Its distinct design characteristics–including its famed peristyle–have been among the factors that have contributed to its reputation as a historic venue. However, the facility’s fan amenities had been lagging in comparison to newer and more recently renovated college football facilities. With those deficiencies in mind, construction work launched in early 2018 on a multi-phase renovation project led by USC that included plans to improve the stadium’s seating bowl, upgrade technology features, and add new premium areas.
The result was the renovation completed in time for the 2019 NCAA football season. One of the most striking additions was the seven-story Scholarship Tower. Along with a new concourse, the Scholarship Tower includes Founders suites on two levels, 1,100 club seats and 24 loge boxes with lounge access, 26 upper suites, and a rooftop terrace that USC has named the 1923 Club. Located above the press box, the rooftop terrace not only provides a unique perspective on the action on the field, but also 360-degrees views of Los Angeles. It includes lounge seating with TVs, as well as multiple bars to accommodate premium food and beverage service.
In addition, the Coliseum’s seating bowl was upgraded with the installation of new handrails, additional aisles, and wider seats. Following a trend that has played out in other sports facility renovation projects–including those in college football–USC effectively opted to prioritize spectator comfort over a high-volume seating capacity, as the renovation resulted in the seating capacity dropping from 92,348 to 77,500.
Technology features also were part of the renovations, highlighted by the addition of a stadium-wide Wi-Fi system. In addition, new video displays and ribbon boards were installed, while broadcast and production facilities were upgraded.
The renovation of the LA Memorial Coliseum is notable in several respects. It allows the venue to maintain its historic characteristics–it is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places–while simultaneously adding the amenities fans have become accustomed to at newer/recently renovated college football facilities. The enhancements should also allow the Coliseum to be a viable venue for other uses, including sporting events beyond USC football. The NFL’s Los Angeles Rams played at the fully renovated Coliseum during the 2019 season–slated to be their last at the venue before the 2020 opening of Inglewood’s SoFi Stadium–and the Summer Olympics will return to Los Angeles in 2028, giving the Coliseum its third turn in the Olympics spotlight.
Images ©Lawrence Anderson, courtesy of DLR Group.