Football season is almost upon us, so USC and local officials gathered Thursday to formally unveil the results of a $315 million renovation project at what is now known as United Airlines Field at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
The two-year project reduced the Coliseum’s overall seating capacity, dropping from 93,607 to about 77,500. All of the seats were replaced, and the project included handrails, new suites, upgraded entryways and video screens.
“Some of the more tangible and visible aspects that you’ll see is replacing every single seat in the bowl, the addition of cupholders for those seats,” USC associate athletic director Jeff Fucci said.
He said fans will also notice added leg room in many sections.
Other elements of the renovation include:
— a new south-side structure including suites, loge boxes, club seats, a concourse and press box;
— restoration of the peristyle to resemble its original design;
— updated WiFi technology;
— additional concession stands;
— electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems; and
— new field and stadium lighting.
The Coliseum was built in 1923 and last underwent substantial renovations 20 years ago when $93 million was spent to repair damage from the 1994 Northridge earthquake. The stadium has hosted two Olympics, two Super Bowls, a World Series, a papal Mass and visits by three U.S. presidents.
The Los Angeles Rams will actually play a game at the renovated facility before USC. The Rams will play host to the Denver Broncos for a preseason game Aug. 24. USC will open its season at the Coliseum the following Saturday, playing host to Fresno State.
United Airlines struck a naming-rights deal for the stadium last year, with original plans calling for the venue to be renamed United Airlines Memorial Coliseum. The change, however, sparked opposition from some veterans groups, who argued the stadium was originally dedicated as a memorial to veterans of World War I and that changing the name would dilute that dedication.
The airline and USC later revised the naming-rights deal in response to the concerns, agreeing to the moniker United Airlines Field at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.