USC Athletics and Premium Experiences are implementing new projects to enhance the game day experience for the 2014 football season. The most visible additions will be the 10 premium on-field suites that will be added along the eastern end zone. Each suite will have both shaded and non-shaded seating, high-end dining and satellite television.
“People love the experience of being down close to the action on the field,” said Steve Lopes, senior associate athletic director. “These are pretty popular around the NFL and even in college football.”
The suites are part of a trial to see if Trojan fans are interested in utilizing high-end amenities at football games. Legends, a company that specializes in hospitality and sales, will be in charge of the marketing for the premium seating. Classic Tents Event Specialists will build the suites. Tickets for the suite seating will be approximately $100 each per game and will include VIP parking. Fans can buy individual tickets instead of an entire suite, Lopes said.
The tents will be built on part of the sun deck bleachers, which was previously an overflow area for student ticket holders and a place reserved for the Trojan Marching Band.
“We’ve taken the front half of these bleachers and removed it, and we put these 10 field suites in front of them,” said Lopes. “The band and the guests of the band will be accommodated.”
Students are concerned about losing some of the seating provided by the bleachers.
“It makes me feel like USC doesn’t prioritize the students,” said Rachel Tang, a sophomore accounting major.
Others felt that being able to watch football was the most significant part of the game day experience.
“As long as [students] are able to sit there and enjoy the game, I think that’s what matters,” said Roshini Nwoko, a senior majoring in human biology. “But if it does take away from the amount of students that can sit there, I think that would be a problem.”
Despite the loss of seats, all ticket holders will be able to enjoy many other Coliseum upgrades. According to Lopes, each gate will have mobile ticketing, which allows access to football games via smart phones.
“We are trying to make it easier for our fans to come,” he said, “They can transfer a ticket to a friend or a colleague via their phone.”
An announcement on USCTrojans.com stated that the concession stands will broaden their menu to include smoked ribs, funnel cakes, pizza and fried chicken, along with gluten-free and vegetarian options. To reduce wait time at checkout, the ground level concession stands will have twice the amount of registers. Restrooms on the ground level will receive a fresh paint job, new lighting and new fixtures.
Other changes include two new Coliseum Clubs located near gates 6 and 19 that will be open to the public until 30 minutes before kickoff, and then limited to Trojan Athletic Fund members during and after games.
Trojan TunnelVision will return for its second season and will feature more in-depth videos and analysis. The filming staff will show pre-game analysis and featurettes an hour before kickoff, interview coaches and players at halftime and show videos that will familiarize fans with players throughout the games. The webcast is available on all mobile devices and online.
The Athletic Department also said that refinements to the Coliseum distributed antenna system (DAS) will boost wireless coverage at the stadium. The press box and locker rooms will also be upgraded this season.
Improving game day parking is another goal of the Athletic Department. In the past, protocol for parking would change during the season, which frustrated some fans.
“We are working with the transportation department to make a parking plan that is efficient and consistent,” Lopes said.
In September of last year, USC negotiated a new 98-year lease for the Coliseum with the City of Los Angeles. According to a USC press release, as part of the lease agreement, USC will invest approximately $70 million in renovations and improvements prior to the centennial celebration of the Coliseum in 2021-23. Patrick Auerbach, associate senior vice president for Alumni Relations, said the Alumni Association is optimistic about the renovations.
“The Alumni Association is behind the whole Coliseum lease 100 percent because it’s in the best interest of the university and the athletics program,” Auerbach said.