USC and United Airlines have agreed to a new naming rights deal for the Coliseum, after facing some backlash regarding the original name change.
The two parties came to a 10-year deal that will result in a new name for just the field, instead of the entire stadium. The field will now be called the United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum starting August.
USC and United had initially struck an agreement in May 2017 to rename the stadium United Airlines Memorial Coliseum. The 16-year deal provided USC over $69 million to use toward the Coliseum’s renovation, part of a $315 million undertaking.
Shortly after the original naming rights deal was agreed upon, veterans groups protested that changing the name of the stadium would dilute its identity as a memorial to World War I veterans.
“I think there are certain things that we shouldn’t sell,” said Janice Hahn, president of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission, who sided with the veterans back in March. “The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum was built in an effort to honor those men who were from Los Angeles that marched off in World War I and never came back.”
Hahn also pointed out the numerous historical events that the Coliseum has hosted — including the 1932 and 1984 summer Olympics and a visit from Nelson Mandela — to emphasize the idea that the Coliseum serves just as much as a war memorial as it does a sports stadium.
Neither USC nor United have released the financial details of the new agreement, which was shortened to 10 years instead of the original 16. Under the revised deal, USC and United said they will support the stadium’s commitment to honor local veterans by supporting veterans who attend USC and erecting a new memorial at the Coliseum to honor veterans.
“I am pleased that USC and United have come together in a way that will honor the memories of veterans who served in World War I and our broader community of veterans,” Hahn said in a statement. “This agreement ensures that United Airlines remains an important corporate sponsor of the Coliseum renovation project and that the legacy of the Coliseum remains. I am proud that we are moving forward with a shared commitment to veterans.”
Interim president Wanda M. Austin agreed with Hahn’s perspective that the benefits of the deal extend far beyond the Coliseum’s renovation.
“USC is honored to be the caretaker of this Los Angeles treasure and, together with United, we are ensuring the Coliseum’s future as a world-class venue,” Austin said in a statement. “The naming of the field is a significant step in USC’s efforts to usher in a modern era for this historic landmark and preserve its legacy.”
Although United officials initially said that the company would be willing to step away from the agreement if USC did not agree to the original name change, the company said it has much to gain from taking on such a prominent role in the Los Angeles community.
“With so many employees, many of whom are proud veterans themselves, and customers that travel to or call [Los Angeles] home, this sponsorship is a meaningful way to underscore our commitment to California,” said Janet Lamkin, president of California for United Airlines, in a statement. “We always want to do what is best for the communities in which we operate — and in this case, reaching an agreement which upholds the name of such a respected venue while modernizing it for the benefit of future generations was the right thing to do.”
The introduction of the field’s new name will coincide with USC’s first football game on Aug. 31 against Fresno State at the Coliseum.