The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum hasn't had any significant upgrades in about 20 years, but now it's poised to get a $270-million makeover from USC that would replace every seat in the stadium and bring back elements of the 1923 venue's original design. The renovation was proposed at a meeting this week with the Coliseum Commission, and, according to USC, if the plan is approved, the work on the stadium would begin after USC's 2017 football season wraps. The project would be complete before the 2019 football season opened, "with no impact on the 2018 season."
The complete remodel would make a big effort to preserve historical elements of the stadium, namely the "iconic peristyle" (those columned arches near the front) so that the stadium would look a lot more like it did in the 1920s. But inside, there would be massive modernization. In addition to new seats, USC wants to add two giant digital screens inside the venue, widen aisles and increase leg room, and build a whole new building along the south section of the Coliseum that would hold fancy suites, loge boxes, and a new press box. Of course, new electrical, mechanical, and plumbing would be part of the overhaul, and WiFi throughout the space would get improved. The post-restoration Coliseum would also have fewer seats, going from its current capacity of about 93,600 down to around 77,500.
The last time the Coliseum got a major upgrade was the mid-Nineties. The venue received $93 million in repairs for damages due to the 1994 Northridge earthquake, and in 1995, a new $6-million press box was added. Before that, in 1993, locker rooms and public restrooms were redone and the stadium's floor was lowered for a cost of $15 million.
Where's all this money going to come from? USC, of course. Though they told the LA Times that they don't have any of the money yet, they plan to raise it through "donations, sponsorships and some naming rights."
The timing for the makeover couldn't be better. Aside from the fact that it's very overdue for improvements (at the presentation to the Coliseum Commission, USC's Athletic Director showed slides of crumbing concrete and leaks throughout the structure), the Coliseum was planned to be a major event center for LA's bid for the 2024 Olympic Games. It's also pretty much the only LA venue that's interested in temporarily hosting an NFL team in the event that professional football comes back to LA. The Times notes, though, that USC's contract "stipulates that that only one pro team can use the stadium."
· USC reveals preliminary plan to renovate LA Coliseum [USC News]
· USC proposes $270 million in Coliseum upgrades [LAT]
· USC Wants to Slap a Corporate Name on LA Memorial Coliseum [Curbed LA]
· The Coliseum is the Only Venue That Definitely Wants to Host the NFL [Curbed LA]