The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is receiving a multimillion dollar renovation.
“It’s a very ambitious project — a $270 million renovation — and we are well down the road on it,” USC Sports Information Director Tim Tessalone said.
The first phase of the makeover took place prior to the 2016 football season with the installation of new stadium lighting. The 2017 football season will be the first with high-definition video boards on the upper east corner of the stadium, which were installed in April.
Construction will not commence until the upcoming football season has ended. Starting in the winter, the south tower will be entirely renovated to include new premium spaces, suites, club seats and a new railing. Seats will be replaced to allow fans more leg-room, and new aisles will be installed to make navigating the Coliseum easier.
Some reseating will be necessary for the 2018 football season during stadium construction. All renovations should be complete by the 2019 season, when complete fan reseating will take place.
The Coliseum’s capacity will be reduced by approximately 16,000 seats, leaving 77,500 widened seats with increased legroom. The renovations will also make space for Scholarship Club Tower with suites, club seats and a new concourse.
Tessalone said the drop in stadium capacity will still make USC’s home field in line with the number of seats in new stadiums being built. A thorough analysis found the seat number sufficient to accommodate the fanbase, Tessalone said.
The project makes it a priority to restore the historic peristyle of the Coliseum and will bring back the framed arches to the stadium. While keeping the historic integrity of the Coliseum intact, the project will modernize the stadium by equipping it with faster Wi-Fi and an updated press box.
The planned press box will be called the Otis Booth Press Box, named after Franklin Otis Booth Jr. — a newspaper executive whose philanthropy has benefited several institutions in Los Angeles.
Although the Coliseum is a Los Angeles institution, USC Athletics is funding the construction in its entirety. No student fees or government funds will be used for the renovation. The project will be paid for through Coliseum restoration gifts, sponsorship revenue, the venue’s non-USC events and donor-naming options.
“The athletic department is self-sufficient,” Tessalone said. “We are charged with balancing our budget and raising the necessary revenue to balance it … whether it’s through fundraising, sponsorships, media rights, ticket sales or merchandise.”
USC has been exploring a naming rights contract since 2013, and has made this task a priority in recent months. Reports have said the University is close to reaching a $70 million, 15-year naming rights deal with United Airlines. The University has not confirmed these reports.
“As part of its agreement to operate the L.A. Coliseum and to support the renovations, the restorations and the operation of the Coliseum, USC has been pursuing a naming rights arrangement with various entities,” Tessalone said. “At this time, no naming rights deal has been finalized.”
The Coliseum was built in 1923; it hosted the Olympic games twice in 1932 and 1984 and is currently being used by the USC Trojans and the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams will play in the Coliseum until the 2020 season, when they will move to their newly built stadium in Inglewood.
“The Coliseum needed to be renovated. It was an old building … it is in need of major upgrades. A lot of it was, quite frankly, falling apart,” Tessalone said. “It will make the gameday experience better for our fans, it’s going to give our football team a first-class facility, it’s going to provide revenue that will not only fund football but all 21 of our sports.”