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USC reveals preliminary plan to renovate L.A. Coliseum

If approved, the $270-million restoration would be completed in time for football’s 2019 home opener.

The project would reduce seating capacity from 93,607 to approximately 77,500. (Rendering from DLR Group)
A drawing of the north side of the Coliseum shows additional aisles and improved entrances. (Rendering from DLR Group)
A rendering of the new south structure shows the new press box, suites, clog seats and loge boxes. The stadium will also get wider walkways, handrails and additional aisles. (Rendering from DLR Group)

As part of its long-term lease agreement, USC today unveiled its proposed preliminary plan to renovate and restore the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum during a meeting with the Coliseum Commission.

If approved, a full project launch will be announced in the spring of 2016. Construction would begin after the 2017 USC football season and completed for the 2019 home opener, with no impact on the 2018 season.

The estimated $270-million renovation will be privately funded by USC, which will work to preserve the historic nature of the Coliseum. The planned renovation would far exceed USC’s obligations under its lease agreement to invest $100 million in improvements by 2054, including $70 million over the next decade.

“The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is a treasure not just for Los Angeles but for the state of California, and its renovation is long overdue,” said USC President C. L. Max Nikias. “Our Board of Trustees has enthusiastically endorsed our plans, and we are pleased to now present them to the Coliseum Commission. We believe these renovations will strengthen the Coliseum’s reputation as one of the world’s great venues and also will enhance our world-class athletic programs that utilize the Coliseum.”

We are committed to providing our players, coaches and fans with one of the best facilities in the nation.

Pat Haden

Said USC Athletic Director Pat Haden: “We are committed to providing our players, coaches and fans with one of the best facilities in the nation. This needed renovation to a stadium built in 1923 will ensure that the game-day experience gives all fans options to enjoy the stadium’s new amenities while recognizing the loyalty of our longtime fans. It also will provide our football team with a first-class facility and a home-field advantage.”

The planned renovations include:

  • Replacing every seat in the stadium and installing handrails throughout the stadium.
  • Adding aisles, widening seats and increasing leg room in many sections.
  • Building a new structure on the south side of the stadium that will include suites, loge boxes, club seats, a new concourse and a new press box.
  • Restoring the iconic peristyle to more closely resemble the stadium’s original design.
  • Updating Wi-Fi technology throughout the venue.
  • Improving audio and video, including the addition of two new large screens at the east end of the stadium.
  • Adding new concession stands and improving existing stands.
  • Upgrading entry concourses.
  • Installing new field and stadium lighting.
  • Replacing the electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems to meet current standards.

Finding the funding

The renovation will be funded entirely by USC Athletics from capital gifts, sponsorship revenue, non-USC events at the Coliseum and donor-naming opportunities. It will not require any student fees or general university, local, state or federal funds.

The improvements to the stadium seating and aisles will reduce seating capacity from 93,607 to approximately 77,500. Student and band seats will not be relocated, and USC will work to upgrade the student experience.

USC Athletics is committed to providing affordable seating options for all fans. Approximately two thirds of the seating in the renovated Coliseum will not require any capital donation. It is anticipated that the remaining inventory will be designated for supporters who make a one-time capital gift and are members of the Trojan Athletic Fund.

Those interested in receiving renovation updates, including renderings, seating options and amenities, can visit www.coliseumrenovation.com to register and become a “Coliseum Renovation Insider.”

Trojan Athletic Fund members and season ticket holders need not register as they will be the first to receive project updates. They also will have priority to select seating, commensurate with membership level and years of support.

“We are committed to completing this process in the most fan-friendly manner possible, recognizing the loyalty of our Trojan Athletic Fund members and longtime season ticket holders and providing a wide variety of seating options,” Haden said.

Previous renovations

In the summer of 2013, USC received approval from the Coliseum Commission and the board of directors of the California Science Center to allow the transaction between the university and the state of California for USC to begin operating and renovating the Coliseum.

USC has been a tenant in the Coliseum since its opening in 1923. The Coliseum last had substantial renovations 20 years ago, when $93 million was spent to repair damages sustained during Southern California’s 1994 earthquake; another $6 million was spent to construct a new press box in 1995. Prior to that, the Coliseum underwent $15 million in renovations in 1993 when the stadium’s floor was lowered, new rows of seats were added down low and locker rooms and public restrooms were upgraded.

In its history, the Coliseum has hosted two Olympics, two Super Bowls, a World Series, a Papal Mass and visits by three U.S. presidents. Besides USC football, the stadium has served at one time as the home to UCLA football, the pro football franchises of the Rams, Dons, Chargers, Raiders, Express and Xtreme, and baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers. It also has been the site of various other events, including concerts and international soccer.

The Coliseum currently is participating in a “zero waste initiative” in conjunction with USC’s Office of Sustainability and the Green Sports Alliance.

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