Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
|The Grand Old Lady|
November 2006 interior view
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
Location in Los Angeles Metropolitan Area
|Address||3911 South Figueroa Street|
|Location||Los Angeles, California, U.S.|
|Coordinates||34°0′51″N 118°17′16″W / 34.01417°N 118.28778°WCoordinates: 34°0′51″N 118°17′16″W / 34.01417°N 118.28778°W|
|Owner||State of California, City of Los Angeles, County of Los Angeles|
|Operator||University of Southern California|
|Broke ground||December 21, 1921|
|Opened||May 1, 1923|
|Renovated||1930, 1964, 1977–78, 1983, 1993, 1995, 2011, 2017–2019|
US$954,872.98 (original)($13.7 million in 2017 dollars)|
$954,869 (renovations by USC in 2010)
($1.07 million in 2017 dollars)
$300 million (renovations by USC in 2018)
John and Donald Parkinson (original) |
DLR Group (renovations)
Edwards, Widley & Dixon Company (original) |
USC Trojans (NCAA) (1923–present)|
Los Angeles Rams (NFL) (1946–1979, 2016–present)
Los Angeles Christmas Festival (NCAA) (1924)
UCLA Bruins (NCAA) (1933–1981)
Los Angeles Dons (AAFC) (1946–1949)
Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB) (1958–1961)
Los Angeles Chargers (AFL) (1960)
Los Angeles Wolves (USA) (1967)
Los Angeles Toros (NPSL) (1967)
Los Angeles Aztecs (NASL) (1977, 1981)
Los Angeles Raiders (NFL) (1982–1994)
Los Angeles Express (USFL) (1983–1985)
Los Angeles Dragons (SFL) (2000)
Los Angeles Xtreme (XFL) (2001)
Los Angeles Temptation (LFL) (2009–2011)
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
The Peristyle plaza entrance to the Coliseum, including the two bronze Olympic statues
|Area||18 acres (7.3 ha)|
|Architectural style||Art Moderne|
|NRHP reference #||84003866|
|Added to NRHP||July 27, 1984|
|Designated NHL||July 27, 1984|
The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is an American outdoor sports stadium located in the Exposition Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, United States. The stadium serves as the home to the University of Southern California (USC) Trojans football team of the Pac-12 Conference. It is also the temporary home of the Los Angeles Rams of the National Football League (NFL). The Coliseum was home to the Rams from 1946 to 1979, when they moved to Anaheim Stadium in Anaheim, and is serving as their home stadium again until the completion of Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park in Inglewood. The facility had a permanent seating capacity of 93,607 for USC football and Rams games, making it the largest football stadium in the Pac-12 Conference and the NFL. USC began a major renovation of the stadium in early 2018. During the renovation project the seating capacity will be 78,467. Once USC completes the renovation in 2019, the seating capacity will be 77,500.
The stadium is located in Exposition Park, which is owned by the State of California, and across the street from USC. The Coliseum is jointly owned by the State of California, Los Angeles County, City of Los Angeles and managed and operated by the Auxiliary Services Department of the University of Southern California. From 1959 to 2016, the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena was located adjacent to the Coliseum; the Sports Arena was closed in March 2016 and demolished between August and October 2016. Banc of California Stadium, a soccer-specific stadium and home of Major League Soccer's Los Angeles FC, was constructed on the former Sports Arena site and opened in April 2018.
The Coliseum will be the first stadium to have hosted the Summer Olympics three times, in 1932, 1984, and the future Summer Olympics in 2028, after the International Olympic Committee confirmed a deal it established on July 31, 2017, during the 131st IOC Session.
The stadium also was the temporary home of the Los Angeles Dodgers of Major League Baseball from 1958 to 1961 and was the host venue for games 3, 4, and 5 of the 1959 World Series. It was the site of the First AFL-NFL World Championship Game, later called Super Bowl I, and Super Bowl VII. Additionally, it has served as a home field for a number of other teams, including the Los Angeles Raiders of the NFL, and UCLA Bruins football. It was declared a National Historic Landmark on July 27, 1984, the day before the opening ceremony of the 1984 Summer Olympics.
The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission, which consists of six voting members appointed by the three ownership interests and meets on a monthly basis, provides public oversight of the master lease agreement with USC. Under the lease the University has day-to-day management and operation responsibility for both the Coliseum and Banc of California Stadium properties. The 98-year lease took effect on July 29, 2013, and was signed by the parties on September 5, 2013. The agreement required the University to make approximately $100 million in physical repairs to the Coliseum, pay $1.3 million each year in rent to the State of California for the state owned land the Coliseum property occupies in Exposition Park, maintain the Coliseum's physical condition at the same standard used on the USC Campus, and assume all financial obligations for the operations and maintenance of the Coliseum and Banc of California Stadium Complex.
On Monday, January 8, 2018, the University began its $300 million project to renovate and improve the Coliseum. The project, which is solely funded by the University, is scheduled to be completed by the 2019 football season and is the first major upgrade of the stadium in twenty years. Once completed the capacity will go from about 93,607 to 77,500 and the project includes replacing every seat in the stadium along with the addition of luxury boxes and club suites. On January 29, 2018, United Airlines became the stadium's first naming rights partner, thus making the stadium the United Airlines Memorial Coliseum; the name change will take effect August 2019.
The Coliseum is now primarily the home of the USC Trojans football team and the home of the Los Angeles Rams (until their new stadium is completed). Most of USC's regular home games, especially the alternating games with rivals UCLA and Notre Dame, attract a capacity crowd. The current official capacity of the Coliseum is 93,607. USC's women lacrosse and soccer teams use the Coliseum for selected games, usually involving major opponents and televised games. USC also rents the Coliseum to various events, including international soccer games, musical concerts and other large outdoor events.
The Olympic cauldron (also known as the Olympic Torch) was built for the stadium's two Olympic Games. It is still lit during USC football games and for Los Angeles Rams games, and other special occasions (e.g., when the Olympics are being held in another city).
In addition, the torch has been lit on the following historic occasions:
- To honor the fallen Israeli Athletes from the 1972 Munich Olympics Games.
- For several days following the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986.
- For over a week following the September 11 attacks in 2001.
- Non-stop for seven days following the 2004 death of Ronald Reagan, a former California governor who opened the 1984 Summer Games.
- In April 2005 following the death of Pope John Paul II, who had celebrated Mass at the Coliseum during his visit to Los Angeles in 1987.
- At the Los Angeles Dodgers 50th anniversary game on March 29, 2008, during the ThinkCure! charity ceremony (While Neil Diamond's "Heartlight" was played and the majority of the attendees turned on their complimentary souvenir keychain flashlights.)
- For the duration of Special Olympics World Games held in Los Angeles from July 25, 2015 to August 2, 2015.
- For the returning Los Angeles Rams' first home game on September 18, 2016 against the Seattle Seahawks.
- The Olympic torch was lit when the expected official awarding of the 2028 Olympic games to Los Angeles on September 13, 2017.
- For the Coliseum Gladiator MMA Championship Finals on Sat. September 23, 2017.
- For the Los Angeles Rams' first playoff game in Los Angeles in 38 years on January 6, 2018 against the Atlanta Falcons.
The Coliseum was commissioned in 1921 as a memorial to L.A. veterans of World War I (rededicated to all United States veterans of World War I in 1968). The official ground breaking ceremony took place on December 21, 1921 with construction being completed in just over 16 months, on May 1, 1923. Designed by John and Donald Parkinson, the original bowl's initial construction costs were $954,873. When the Coliseum opened in 1923, it was the largest stadium in Los Angeles with a capacity of 75,144. In 1930, however, with the Olympics due in two years, the stadium was extended upward to seventy-nine rows seats with two tiers of tunnels, expanding the seating capacity to 101,574. The now-signature Olympic torch was added. For a time it was known as Olympic Stadium. The Olympic cauldron torch which burned through both Games remains above the peristyle at the east end of the stadium as a reminder of this, as do the Olympic rings symbols over one of the main entrances. The football field runs east to west with the press box on the south side of the stadium. The scoreboard and video screen that tower over the peristyle date back to 1983; they replaced a smaller scoreboard above the center arch installed in 1972, which in turn supplanted the 1937 model, one of the first all-electric scoreboards in the nation. Over the years new light towers have been placed along the north and south rims. The large analog clock and thermometer over the office windows at either end of the peristyle were installed in 1955. In the mid-and late 1950s the press box was renovated and the "Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum" lettering and Olympic rings, lighted at night, were added to the eastern face of the peristyle tower. Between the double peristyle arches at the east end is the Coliseum's "Court of Honor"—plaques recognizing many of the memorable events and participants in Coliseum history, including a full list of 1932 and 1984 Olympic gold medalists. (The complete roster of honorees can be seen below).
A pair of life-sized bronze nude statues of male and female athletes atop a 20,000 pound (9,000 kg) post-and-lintel frame formed the Olympic Gateway created by Robert Graham for the 1984 games. The statues, modeled on water polo player Terry Schroeder and long jumper from Guyana, Jennifer Inniss, who participated in the games, were noted for their anatomical accuracy. A decorative facade bearing the Olympic rings was erected in front of the peristyle for the 1984 games, and the structure remained in place through that year's football season. The stadium rim and tunnels were repainted in alternating pastel colors that were part of architect Jon Jerde's graphic design for the games; these colors remained until 1987.
For many years the Coliseum was capable of seating over 100,000 spectators. In 1964 the stadium underwent its first major renovation in over three decades. Most of the original pale green wood-and-metal bench seating was replaced by individual theater-type chairs of dark red, beige, and yellow; these seats remain in place today, though the yellow color was eliminated in the 1970s. The seating capacity was reduced to approximately 93,000.
The Coliseum was problematic as an NFL venue. At various times in its history, it was either the largest or one of the largest stadiums in the NFL, making it difficult to sell out. Since the NFL's blackout rule barred games from being televised locally unless they were sold out 72 hours before kickoff, this meant Rams (and later Raiders) games were often blacked out in Southern California.
Partly due to this, from 1964 to the late 1970s it was common practice to shift the playing field to the closed end of the stadium and install end zone bleachers in front of the peristyle, limiting further the number of seats available for sale. For USC–UCLA and USC-University of Notre Dame games, which often attracted crowds upward of 90,000, the bleachers were moved eastward and the field was re-marked in its original position. When a larger east grandstand was installed in 1977–1978 at the behest of Rams owner Carroll Rosenbloom, the capacity was just 71,500. With the upcoming 1984 Summer Olympic Games, a new track was installed and the playing field permanently placed inside it. However, the combination of the stadium's large, relatively shallow design, along with the presence of the track between the playing field and the stands, meant that some of the original end zone seats were as far from the field by the equivalent length of another football field. To address these and other problems, the Coliseum underwent a $15 million renovation before the 1993 football season which included the following:
- The field was lowered by 11 feet (3.4 m) and fourteen new rows of seats replaced the running track, bringing the first row of seats closer to the playing field (a maximum distance of 54 feet (16.5 m) at the eastern 30-yard-line).
- A portable seating section was built between the eastern endline and the peristyle bleachers (the stands are removed for concerts and similar events).
- The locker rooms and public restrooms were modernized.
- The bleachers were replaced with individual seating.
Additionally, for Raiders home games, tarpaulins were placed over seldom-sold sections, reducing seating capacity to approximately 65,000. The changes were anticipated to be the first of a multi-stage renovation designed by HNTB that would have turned the Coliseum into a split-bowl stadium with two levels of mezzanine suites (the peristyle end would have been left as is). After the 1994 Northridge earthquake, however, $93 million was required from government agencies (including the Federal Emergency Management Agency) to repair earthquake damage, and the renovations demanded by the Raiders were put on hold indefinitely. The Raiders then redirected their efforts toward a proposed stadium at Hollywood Park in Inglewood before electing to move back to the Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum prior to the 1995 season. The last element of the Northridge earthquake repairs was the replacement of the condemned press box with a new press box in 1995.
In August 2011, construction began on the Coliseum's west end on a new 6,000 square-foot high-definition video scoreboard, accompanying the existing video scoreboard on the peristyle (east end) of the stadium. The video scoreboard officially went into operation on September 3, 2011, at USC football's home opener versus the University of Minnesota, with the game being televised on ABC.
In July 2013, USC gained the master lease of the Coliseum, after the previously governing Coliseum Commission failed to deliver promised renovations. Part of the 98-year lease contract states that USC will provide $100 million in improvements in the first half of the contract, with $70 million of that coming in the first 10 years.
Coliseum Renovation Project
On October 29, 2015, the University of Southern California unveiled an estimated $270-million project for a massive renovation and restoration the Coliseum. The upgrades include: replacing all seats in the stadium, adding new aisles and widening some seats, a new surround sound system, construction of a larger and modern press box (that contains new box suites, premium lounges, a viewing deck and V.I.P. section), restoration and renaming of the Peristyle (soon to be called the Julia and George Argyros Plaza), stadium wide Wi-Fi, new High-definition video jumbotron and scoreboards, introduction of LED ribbon boards, new concession stands, upgraded entry concourses, new interior and exterior lighting, modernization of plumbing and electrical systems, and a reduction in capacity of about 16,000 seats, with the final total at approximately 78,500 seats. The plans have been met with mixed reactions from the public. The Los Angeles 2028 Olympic bid committee proposes spending $300 million in added renovations to support its bid added to USC's total.
Construction began when the 2017 football season ended, and is scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2019. USC officials stated that construction will be planned around the school's (and the Rams') 2018 home football schedule, with no interruption.
In 1923, Pomona College and USC played in the inaugural game at the Coliseum on October 6, with the Trojans prevailing 23–7. Situated just across the street from Exposition Park, USC agreed to play all its home games at the Coliseum, a circumstance that contributed to the decision to build the arena.
From 1928 through 1981, the UCLA Bruins also played home games at the Coliseum. When USC and UCLA played each other, the "home" team (USC in odd-numbered years, UCLA in even), occupied the north sideline and bench, and its band and rooters sat on the north side of the stadium; the "visiting" team and its contingent took to the south (press box) side of the stadium. Excepting the mid-1950s and 1983–2007, the two teams have worn their home jerseys for the rivalry games for the Victory Bell; this tradition was renewed in 2008, even though the two schools now play at different stadiums. UCLA moved to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena in 1982.
In 1932, the Coliseum hosted the 1932 Summer Olympic Games; the first of two Olympic Games hosted at the stadium. The Coliseum served as the site of the field hockey, gymnastics, the show jumping part of the equestrian, and the track and field events along with the opening and closing ceremonies. The 1932 games marked the introduction of the Olympic Village as well as the victory podium.
The former Cleveland Rams of the National Football League relocated to the Coliseum in 1946, becoming the Los Angeles Rams; but the team later relocated again, first to Anaheim in 1980, then to St. Louis, Missouri in 1995 only to move back to Los Angeles in 2016. The Los Angeles Dons of the All-America Football Conference played in the Coliseum from 1946 to 1949, when the Dons franchise merged with its NFL cousins just before the two leagues merged.
Among other sporting events held at the Coliseum over the years were games of Major League Baseball, which were held at the Coliseum when the Brooklyn Dodgers of the National League relocated to the West Coast in 1958. The Dodgers played here until Dodger Stadium was completed in time for the 1962 season. Even allowing for its temporary status, the Coliseum was extremely ill-suited for baseball, which requires roughly 2.5 times more area than a football gridiron. The playing surface was just barely large enough to accommodate a baseball diamond. As a result, foul territory was almost nonexistent down the first base line, but was very expansive down the third base line with a very large backstop for the catcher. Sight lines also left much to be desired; some seats were as far as 710 feet (216 m) from the plate. Also, from baseball's point of view, the locker rooms were huge, because they were designed for football (not baseball) teams.
In order to shoehorn even an approximation of a baseball field onto the playing surface, the left-field fence was set at only 251 feet (77 m) from the plate. This seemed likely to ensure that there would be many "Chinese home runs", as such short shots were called at the time, and sportswriters began jokingly referring to the improvised park as "O'Malley's Chinese Theatre" or "The House that Charlie Chan Built", drawing protests from the Chinese American community in the Los Angeles area. They also expressed concern that cherished home run records, especially Babe Ruth's 1927 seasonal mark of 60, might easily fall as a result of 250-foot pop flies going over the left-field fence. Sports Illustrated titled a critical editorial "Every Sixth Hit a Homer!" Players, too, complained, with Milwaukee Braves' ace Warren Spahn calling for a rule that would require any home run to travel at least 300 feet (91 m) before it could be considered a home run.
Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick ordered the Dodgers to erect two 42 feet (12.8 m) screens in left field to prevent pop flies from becoming home runs. One screen would have topped the left field wall, while the second would have been in the stands, 333 feet (101 m) from the plate. A ball hit to left would have to clear both screens to be a home run; if it cleared the first screen, it would be a ground-rule double. However, the Dodgers discovered that the state's earthquake safety laws barred construction of a second screen. The first screen was built, however; its cables, towers, wires and girders were in play.
As it was, the "short porch" in left field looked attractive to batters. In the first week of play during the 1959 season, the media's worst preseason fears seemed to be realized when 24 home runs were hit in the Coliseum, three of them by Chicago Cubs outfielder Lee Walls, not especially distinguished as a hitter. But pitchers soon adapted, throwing outside to right-handed hitters, requiring them to pull the bat hard if they wanted to hit toward left. Perhaps no player took better advantage than Dodgers outfielder Wally Moon, who figured out how to hit high fly balls that dropped almost vertically just behind the screen. By season's end, he had hit 19 homers, all but 5 of them in the Coliseum. In recognition, such homers were dubbed "Moon Shots."
Unable to compel the Dodgers to fix the situation, the major leagues passed a note to Rule 1.04 stating that any stadium constructed after June 1, 1958, must provide a minimum distance of 325 feet (99 m) down each foul line. Also, when the expansion Los Angeles Angels joined the American League for 1961, Frick rejected their original request to use the Coliseum as a temporary facility. This rule was revoked (or perhaps, simply ignored) when the Baltimore Orioles launched the "Retro Ballpark" era in 1993, with the opening of Camden Yards. With a right field corner of only 318 feet, this fell short. However, baseball fans heartily welcomed the "new/old" style, and all new ballparks since then have been allowed to set their own distances.
Late that season, the screen figured in the National League pennant race. The Braves were playing the Dodgers in the Coliseum on September 15, 1959, and Joe Adcock hit a ball that cleared the screen but hit a steel girder behind it and got stuck in the mesh. According to the ground rules, this should have been a home run. However, the umpires ruled it a ground-rule double. Then the fans shook the screen, causing the ball to fall into the seats. The umpires changed the call to a homer, only to change their minds again and rule it a ground-rule double. Adcock was left stranded on second. The game was tied at the end of nine innings and the Dodgers won it in the tenth inning. At the end of the regular season, the Dodgers and Braves finished in a tie. The Dodgers won the ensuing playoff and went on to win the World Series.
Although less than ideal for baseball due to its poor sight lines and short dimensions (left field at 251 feet [mentioned above] and power alleys at 320 feet (98 m)) it was ideally suited for large paying crowds. Each of the three games of the 1959 World Series played there drew over 92,000 fans, with game 5 drawing 92,706, a record unlikely to be seriously threatened anytime soon, given the smaller seating capacities of today's baseball parks. A May 1959 exhibition game between the Dodgers and the New York Yankees in honor of legendary catcher Roy Campanella drew 93,103, the largest crowd ever to see a baseball game in the Western Hemisphere until an exhibition game in 2008 between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox to mark the 50th anniversary of MLB in Los Angeles. The Coliseum also hosted the second 1959 MLB All-Star Game.
The Coliseum was also the site of John F. Kennedy's memorable acceptance speech at the 1960 Democratic National Convention. It was during that speech that Kennedy first used the term "the New Frontier".
The Rams hosted the 1949, 1951, and 1955 NFL championship games at the Coliseum. The Coliseum was the site of the very first NFL-AFL Championship Game in January 1967, an event since renamed the Super Bowl. It also hosted the Super Bowl in 1973, but future Super Bowls in the Los Angeles region would instead be hosted at the Rose Bowl, which has never had an NFL tenant. The venue was also the site of the NFL Pro Bowl from 1951 to 1972 and again in 1979.
The United States men's national soccer team played its first match as the stadium in 1965, losing to Mexico in a 1966 World Cup qualifier. Also, the Los Angeles Wolves of the United Soccer Association played their home games in the Coliseum for one year (1967) before moving to the Rose Bowl.
1963 Billy Graham Crusade: Largest Gathering in History
The largest gathering in the Coliseum's history was a Billy Graham crusade which took place on September 8, 1963 with 134,254 in attendance, noted by the Coliseum's website as an all-time record. With the renovations of 1964, the capacity of the Coliseum was reduced to roughly 93,000 for future events.
In July 1972, the Coliseum hosted the "Super Bowl" of Motocross. The event was the first motocross race held inside a stadium. It has evolved into the AMA Supercross championship held in stadiums across the United States and Canada.
On August 20, 1972, Wattstax, also known as the "Black-Woodstock", took place in the Coliseum. Over 100,000 Black residents of Los Angeles attended this concert for African American pride. Later, in 1973, a documentary was released about the concert.
In 1973, Evel Knievel used the entire distance of the stadium to jump 50 stacked cars at the stadium. Knievel launched his motorcycle from atop one end of the Coliseum, jumping the cars in the center of the field, and stopping high atop the other end. The jump was filmed by ABC Wide World of Sports. Also in 1973, the Coliseum was host to Super Bowl VII which saw the AFC champion Miami Dolphins (17–0) defeat the NFC champion Washington Redskins (13–4), 14–7, and become the first, and presently the only, team in the NFL to complete a perfect, undefeated season and postseason.
The Los Angeles Rams played their home games in the Coliseum until 1979, when they moved to Anaheim prior to the 1980 NFL Season. They hosted the NFC Championship Game in 1975 & 1978 in which they lost both times to the Dallas Cowboys by lopsided margins.
The Coliseum was also home to the USFL's Los Angeles Express between 1983 and 1985. In this capacity, the stadium also is the site of the longest professional American football game in history; a triple-overtime game on June 30, 1984 (a few weeks before the start of the 1984 Summer Olympics) between the Express and the Michigan Panthers, which was decided on a 24-yard game-winning touchdown by Mel Gray of the Express, 3:33 into the third overtime to give Los Angeles a 27–21 win. Until 2012, this game marked the only time in the history of pro football that there was more than one kickoff in overtime play in the same game.
The Coliseum was also the site of the 1982 Speedway World Final, held for the first and, to this day, only time in the USA. The event saw Newport Beach native Bruce Penhall retain the title he had won in front of 92,500 fans at London's Wembley Stadium in 1981. An estimated 40,000 fans were at the Coliseum to see Penhall retain his title before announcing his retirement from motorcycle speedway to take up an acting role on the NBC drama series CHiPs.
Los Angeles hosted the 1984 Summer Olympics, and the Coliseum became the first stadium to host the Summer Olympic Games twice; again serving as the primary track and field venue and site of the opening and closing ceremonies.
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band concluded their Born in the U.S.A. Tour, with four consecutive concerts on September 27, 29–30 and October 2, 1985. These shows were recorded and eight songs from the show of September 30 appear on their box set, entitled Live 1975–85.
U2 played at the stadium on leg 3 of their breakout Joshua Tree tour in 1987 with two consecutive nights, November 17 and 18, 1987. They later returned on their Pop Mart tour, June 21, 1997.
Los Angeles natives Mötley Crüe played at the stadium on December 13, 1987 during the second leg of their "Girls, Girls, Girls" World Tour with fellow heavy metal and Los Angeles-based band Guns N' Roses as the opening act. Mötley Crüe at the time was one of the most popular and successful musical acts on the planet, while Guns N' Roses was one of the largest up-and-coming acts. Guns N' Roses would later return for four shows in October 1989 as the opening act for The Rolling Stones, then again on September 27, 1992 on their infamous co-headlining tour with Metallica.
The stadium played host to The Monsters of Rock Festival Tour, featuring Van Halen, Scorpions, Dokken, Metallica and Kingdom Come, on July 24, 1988. A second show was planned to take place on the 23rd, but was later canceled.
The stadium also played host to Amnesty International's Human Rights Now! Benefit Concert on September 21, 1988. The show was headlined by Sting and Peter Gabriel and also featured Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Tracy Chapman, Youssou N'Dour and Joan Baez.
The Coliseum was set to be the site of WrestleMania VII on March 24, 1991. However, the event was eventually moved to the nearby Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. Officially, the World Wrestling Federation (now World Wrestling Entertainment) claimed the decision to move the event was due to security concerns (this may have been in reference to then-champion Sgt Slaughter, who was playing a heel Iraqi sympathizer character to coincide with Operation Desert Storm). However, that claim has often been disputed and the venue change attributed to low ticket sales. When it was first announced that the Coliseum was to host WM7, WWF owner Vince McMahon's original promos for the event told that they expected over 100,000 fans to attend. The reported attendance in the Sports Arena was 16,158. The 100,000-plus mark would later occur 25 years later on April 3, 2016 when AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas housed 101,763 fans for WrestleMania 32.
The Raiders began looking to move out of the Coliseum as early as 1986. In addition to the delays in renovating the stadium, they never drew well; even after they won Super Bowl XVIII in 1984, they had trouble filling it. The NFL scheduled all of the Raiders' appearances on Monday Night Football as road games since the Los Angeles market would have been blacked out due to the Coliseum not being sold out. Finally, in 1995, the Raiders left Los Angeles and returned to Oakland, leaving the Coliseum without a professional football tenant for the first time since the close of World War II.
The most recent pro football tenant prior to the return of the Rams was the short-lived Los Angeles Xtreme, the first and only champion of the XFL. It won the championship game at the Coliseum over San Francisco.
The Legends Football League began as a halftime spectacular known as the Lingerie Bowl. The first 3 years (2004, 2005, 2006) were played at the Coliseum. From 2009 to 2011, a couple of Los Angeles Temptation games were played in the Coliseum. Beginning in 2015, the Temptation resumed playing at the Coliseum after 3 seasons at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario.
The stadium hosted several matches, including the semi-finals and final, of the 1991 CONCACAF Gold Cup soccer tournament. The United States national team beat Honduras in the final. The Coliseum also staged the final match of the Gold Cup in the 1996, 1998, and 2000 tournaments. In October 2000, United States played its last match at the stadium in a friendly versus Mexico. Since then, the team has preferred the Rose Bowl Stadium and the StubHub Center as home stadiums in the Greater Los Angeles.
The stadium hosted the K-1 Dynamite!! USA mixed martial arts event. The promoters claimed that 54,000 people attended the event, which would have set a new attendance record for a mixed martial arts event in the United States; however, other officials estimated the crowd between 20,000 and 30,000.
In May 1959, the Dodgers had hosted an exhibition game against the reigning World Series champion New York Yankees at the Coliseum, a game which drew over 93,000 people. The Yankees won that game 6–2. As part of their west coast 50th anniversary celebration in 2008, the Dodgers again hosted an exhibition game against the reigning World Series Champions, the Boston Red Sox. The middle game of a three-game set in Los Angeles, held on March 29, 2008, was also won by the visitors, by the relatively low score of 7–4, given the layout of the field – Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek had joked that he expected scores in the 80s.
As previously mentioned in the 1950s–1960s section, during 1958–1961, the distance from home plate to the left field foul pole was 251 feet (76.5 m) with a 42-foot (13 m) screen running across the close part of left field. Due to the intervening addition of another section of seating rimming the field, the 2008 grounds crew had much less space to work with, and the result was a left field foul line only 201 ft long (61.3 m), with a 60-foot (18 m) screen, which one Boston writer dubbed the "Screen Monster". Even at that distance, 201 feet is also 49 ft (14.9 m) short of the minimum legal home-run distance. This being an exhibition game, balls hit over the 60 ft (18 m) temporary screen were still counted as home runs. There were only a couple of home runs over the screen, as pitchers adjusted (and Manny Ramirez did not play). A diagram () illustrated the differences in the dimensions between 1959 and 2008:
- 2008 – LF 201 ft (61.3 m) – LCF 280 ft (85.3 m) – CF 380 ft (115.8 m) – RCF 352 ft (107.3 m) – RF 300 ft (91.4 m)
- 1959 – LF 251 ft (76.5 m) – LCF 320 ft (97.5 m) – CF 417 ft (127.1 m) – RCF 375 ft (114.3 m) – RF 300 ft (91.4 m)
A sellout crowd of 115,300 was announced, which set a Guinness World Record for attendance at a baseball game, breaking the record set at a 1956 Summer Olympics baseball demonstration game between teams from the USA and Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
The Coliseum formerly hosted the major U.S. electronic dance music festival Electric Daisy Carnival. It last hosted the event in 2010; following the drug-related death of an underage attendee at EDC that year, the festival's organizer Insomniac Events was blacklisted from hosting future events at the venue, and it subsequently moved to Las Vegas Motor Speedway beginning in 2011.
In 2006, the Coliseum Commission focused on signing a long-term lease with USC; the school offered to purchase the facility from the state but was turned down. After some at-time contentious negotiations, with the university threatening in late 2007 to move its home stadium to the Rose Bowl, the two sides signed a 25-year lease in May 2008 giving the Coliseum Commission 8% of USC's ticket sales, approximately $1.5 million a year, but commits the agency to a list of renovations.
In 2006, the Mexican group RBD held a concert during the RBD Tour USA for more than 70,000 people, the tickets sold out in less than 30 minutes.
On June 23, 2008, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission announced they were putting the naming rights of the Coliseum on the market, predicting a deal valued at $6 million to $8 million a year. The funds would go towards financing more than $100 million in renovations over the next decade, including a new video board, bathrooms, concession areas and locker rooms. Additional seating was included in the renovation plans which increased the Coliseum's seating capacity to 93,607 in September 2008.
On June 17, 2009, the Coliseum was the terminus for the Los Angeles Lakers 2009 NBA Championship victory parade. A crowd of over 90,000 attended the festivities, in addition to the throngs of supporters who lined the 2-mile parade route. The Coliseum peristyle was redesigned in purple and gold regalia to commemorate the team and the Lakers' court was transported from Staples Center to the Coliseum field to act as the stage. Past parades had ended at Staples Center, but due to the newly constructed L.A. Live complex, space was limited around the arena.
On April 27, 2013, the stadium hosted the Stadium Super Trucks.
On July 29, 2013, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission and USC implemented the Second Amendment to the Lease and Agreement between the Coliseum Commission and USC which transferred to USC the responsibility for the long-term (98 years) operation of both the Coliseum and the then Sports Arena facilities and the capital renewal of the Coliseum.
On September 13, 2014, the Coliseum hosted the 5th-place game, 3rd-place game, and Final of the 2014 Copa Centroamericana in front of 41,969 spectators.
In August 2015, the Coliseum hosted the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games.
Los Angeles Rams
On January 13, 2016, the NFL gave permission for the St. Louis Rams to relocate back to Los Angeles. The Rams resumed play at the Coliseum, while awaiting completion of the Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park in Inglewood.
On August 13, 2016, the Coliseum hosted its first NFL game at the stadium since 1994, as the Rams hosted Dallas Cowboys at a preseason game to a crowd of 89,140 people.
On September 18, 2016, the Coliseum hosted the first Rams regular season home game since 1979, against the Seattle Seahawks.
On January 6, 2018, the Coliseum hosted its first Rams playoff game since the 1978 NFC Championship game, against the defending NFC champion Atlanta Falcons.
Naming rights and 2028 Summer Olympics
On January 29, 2018, it was announced by the University of Southern California that United Airlines had bought the naming rights to the Coliseum. Memorial Coliseum will be retained in the name of the stadium by the condition of the Coliseum Commission's requirement in its master lease agreement with the University. It will be called the United Airlines Memorial Coliseum starting in August 2019.
The International Olympic Committee announced that Los Angeles would again host the Summer Olympics in 2028. Athletics will be held at the Coliseum during the 2028 Summer Olympics as well as the closing ceremony. During the 131st IOC Session, the International Olympic Committee officially awarded the 2028 Summer Olympics to Los Angeles. The Coliseum will be the first stadium to host events for three different Olympic games.
The Coliseum and the NFL
There was much debate about the Coliseum's potential to be a modern NFL venue. Although the Coliseum has significant historical value, it is regarded by some as inadequate to be the home of a major professional sports team. Since it was designed and built long before the age of club seats, luxury boxes, and the other revenue-generating amenities that modern football stadiums possess, any professional team moving to the Coliseum will likely have to perform extensive renovations. Also, its status as a National Historic Landmark means any renovations would have to be complementary to the most identifiable parts of the building, a guideline that was not followed during Soldier Field's renovations in 2002. Soldier Field was stripped of its landmark status as a result of its renovation. Los Angeles County voters have been generally uninterested in appropriating tax revenue toward building a new stadium. Without public funds, the costs of renovation would have to be borne by any future tenant of the Coliseum. Because of the difficulties that the NFL had with trying to finance a renovated Coliseum, Rose Bowl or until 2016 a brand new stadium, pro football was absent from the second-largest media market in the United States for two decades. (The NFL was to award a franchise to Los Angeles in 2002, but debate over a stadium, coupled with Houston's aggressiveness, led the NFL to award the franchise to Houston instead.)
On November 10, 2005, then-NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue announced that the NFL and city officials had reached a preliminary agreement on bringing an NFL team back to the Coliseum. However, this did not come to fruition.
An article in the May 24, 2006 issue of the Los Angeles Times made light of a proposition to spend tens of millions of dollars of city funds to heavily renovate the stadium, and indicated that the city may make more than $100 million in added funds available in the future toward further renovation. City leaders who supported the spending despite significant disapproval from the local population cited that the renovations were necessary to help attract a new NFL team to the city and that the tax revenue generated by the presence of a new franchise team would have eventually paid back the investment many times over.
While a proposal to bring pro football back to the Los Angeles area was still in the works (at the time), there had been little action taken in the last years of the NFL's absence from the Los Angeles market to bring an NFL team to the Coliseum. Up until 2013, USC had a series of mostly one- and two-year leases with the commission. In November 2007, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa declared that the policy of requiring the NFL to relocate to the Coliseum would change and other options would be explored. The Coliseum Commission's June 23, 2008 decision to sell naming rights to the stadium had signaled a likely end to the prospects of the NFL's returning to the Coliseum as the prospect of a naming-rights deal by a future NFL team tenant could have helped lure a new pro team.
In August 2011, Tim Leiweke, President of AEG, Inc., stated publicly that his interest in using the Coliseum as a possible temporary venue for an NFL team that might relocate to Los Angeles would require that such negotiations with AEG be conducted with USC and not with the Coliseum Commission.
On September 7, 2011, the Coliseum Commission voted unanimously to request USC to undertake negotiations for possible management agreement regarding the Coliseum and the then Sports Arena. USC and the Commission began negotiations at the end of September and concluded in December 2011 with a Term Sheet outlining basic points of agreement negotiated between USC and the Commission negotiating committee. The full Commission on December 21, 2011 unanimously endorsed the terms and instructed its legal counsel to proceed with development of an actual lease agreement so that a draft could be made available for public comment. Over the next 18 months the Commission and its staff held several public meetings on the draft lease and discussion meetings with the California Science Center (representative for the State owned property in Exposition Park).
During an open session meeting on July 17, 2013, the Commission authorized the amendment to the existing USC-Coliseum Commission Lease for the operation of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and the then Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. On July 25, 2013, the Coliseum Commission and USC executed this new long-term master lease agreement. It became effective on July 29, 2013, and the Commission transferred day-to-day management and financial responsibilities for the Coliseum and Sports Arena to USC. This included the rehiring by USC, on a fixed term basis, of the Coliseum/Sports Arena employees who had been working for the Commission the previous day. For most of the former Coliseum Commission employees, the fixed term of their employment would be short-lived, ending 10 months later on May 30, 2014.
The new master lease contained a provision that required USC to cooperate with any request by the City or County of Los Angeles for use of the Coliseum on a temporary basis (no longer than 4 years) by an NFL team. USC was required to negotiate in good faith with the NFL to structure a sublease or occupancy agreement on fair market terms; USC could require the NFL team to contribute to any capital improvements in the Coliseum; USC is not obligated under the master lease to incur any additional expense or liabilities from the use of the Coliseum by an NFL team. Additionally, under the master lease USC had the right to refuse to enter into an agreement with the NFL if the school reasonably determined that the NFL team being proposed posed security or safety concerns for the USC campus or if the activities associated with the NFL team would cause violations of NCAA or Pac-12 bylaws, regulations, or policies/procedures.
That lease provision was executed when the Rams relocated back to Los Angeles for the 2016 NFL season, the Coliseum serves as their temporary stadium until the Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park is finished in 2020.
On December 6, 2016, it was reported by USA Today that the San Diego Chargers (a candidate to move to Los Angeles) were in contact with the Coliseum Commission about playing at the stadium should they move; the Chargers ultimately chose the much smaller StubHub Center as their temporary home.
Beginning in the 2017 season, the seating capacity for Rams games was capped at 70,000 due to limited logistics for larger crowds.
Seating and attendance
*For college football
- College football
Records differ between the 2006 USC football media guide and 2006 UCLA football media guide. (This may be due to only keeping records for "home" games until the 1950s.) The USC Media guide lists the top five record crowds as:
- 1. 104,953 — vs. Notre Dame 1947 (USC home game; Highest attendance for a football game in the Coliseum)
- 2. 103,303 — vs. UCLA 1939 (USC home game)
- 3. 103,000 — vs. USC 1945 (UCLA home game)
- 4. 102,548 — vs. USC 1954 (UCLA home game)
- 5. 102,050 — vs. UCLA 1947 (USC home game)
The UCLA Media guide does not list the 1939 game against USC, and only lists attendance for the second game in 1945 for Coliseum attendance records. These are the top three listed UCLA record Coliseum crowds:
- 1. 102,548 — vs. USC 1954 (UCLA home game)
- 2. 102,050 — vs. USC 1947 (UCLA home game)
- 3. 100,333 — vs. USC 1945 (USC home game; 1945's second of two meetings)
The largest crowd to attend a USC football game against an opponent other than UCLA or Notre Dame was 96,130 for a November 10, 1951 contest with Stanford University. The largest attendance for a UCLA contest against a school other than USC was 92,962 for the November 1, 1946 game with Saint Mary's College of California.
- National Football League
The Los Angeles Rams played the San Francisco 49ers before an NFL record attendance of 102,368 on November 10, 1957. This was a record paid attendance that stood until September 2009 at Cowboys Stadium, though the overall NFL regular season record was broken in a 2005 regular season game between the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. Both records were broken on September 20, 2009 at the first regular season game at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants.
In their 13 seasons in Los Angeles the Raiders on several occasions drew near-capacity crowds to the Coliseum. The largest were 91,505 for an October 25, 1992 game with the Dallas Cowboys, 91,494 for a September 29, 1991 contest with the San Francisco 49ers, and 90,380 on January 1, 1984 for a playoff game with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Coliseum hosted the first AFL-NFL World Championship Game, later called the Super Bowl. The January 15, 1967 game, pitting the Green Bay Packers against the Kansas City Chiefs, attracted 61,946 fans—a lower-than anticipated crowd (by comparison, a regular-season game between the Packers and Rams a month earlier drew 72,418). For Super Bowl VII in 1973, which matched the Miami Dolphins against the Washington Redskins, the attendance was a near-capacity 90,182, a record that would stand until Super Bowl XI at the Rose Bowl. The 1975 NFC Championship Game between the Los Angeles Rams and Dallas Cowboys had an attendance of 88,919, still the largest crowd for a conference championship game since the conference-title format began with the 1970 season. The 1983 AFC Championship Game between the Raiders and Seattle Seahawks attracted 88,734.
The Rams' first NFL game at the Coliseum since 1979, after spending fifteen years at Anaheim Stadium and then twenty-one seasons in St. Louis, a pre-season contest against the Cowboys on August 13, 2016, drew a crowd of 89,140. The team's first regular-season home game, on September 18 against the Seattle Seahawks, attracted 91,046—the largest attendance for a Rams game at the Coliseum since 1959.
- Major League Baseball
Contemporary baseball guides listed the theoretical baseball seating capacity as 92,500. Thousands of east-end seats were very far from home plate, and were not sold unless needed. The largest regular season attendance was 78,672, the Dodgers' home debut in the Coliseum, against the San Francisco Giants on April 18, 1958.
The May 7, 1959, exhibition game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the 1958 World Series Champion New York Yankees, in honor of disabled former Dodgers catcher Roy Campanella, drew 93,103, which was a Major League Baseball record prior to 2008.
The attendance for the exhibition game on March 29, 2008, between the Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers, was 115,300, setting a new Guinness World Record for attendance at a baseball game. The previous record of an estimated 114,000 was in the 1956 Summer Olympics at Melbourne Cricket Ground for an exhibition game between teams from branches of American Military Forces and Australia.
Several factors allowed the city of Los Angeles and its metropolitan area to become the footballing central United States, both for local and international football . Including the common demographic factor in the area since the mid-twentieth century began to hold thousands and then millions, especially Mexican Latin American immigrants ; California leading the city's fondness for soccer called . To this incipient city footballing tradition dating back to 1902. Initially found joins football stadiums hosted a small area like Wrigley Field (Chicago Stadium homonymous) and Veterans Memorial Stadium, however the growing fondness for football, moved the dispute encounters the biggest stage in the city, the Memorial Coliseum.
The first official match in the competition that developed serious property was on March 7, 1965, corresponding to the qualifiers for the World Cup 1966 England between the U.S. and Mexico that ended with a tie at two goals.
Although the stadium represents the second most active venue in the history of the U.S. national team (after Robert F. Kennedy), it has played only 20 games in it, the last one in 2000.
However, the national team with increased activity in the Memorial Coliseum is Mexico, who has played 61 games in the building. Even the Los Angeles stage is the second stage where most capped the Mexican representative, only after its official seat Estadio Azteca, more than any other enclosure in his country and the United States. It was the mid-1980s when the Mexican national team began to adopt it as usual venue of their friendly games in the neighboring country, largely by population uniqueness of Los Angeles, which places it as the second-biggest city with Mexicans in the world.
Given its capacity and importance of the area in which it is located, it has been striking for different club and international matches, both friendly and official. While it is emphasizing the fact it had not been considered as the venue for the 1994 World Cup, awarded to its neighbor the Rose Bowl Stadium.
Although the stadium has never hosted the MLS Cup (final title game of Major League Soccer) or the end of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup (the tournament's oldest football country), it was the seat of the first final of a professional soccer tournament in the country, when it was the setting for the 1967 Soccer Bowl, organized by the United Soccer Association.
"Court of Honor" plaques
- 1959 Dodgers World Series, 1961
- 50th Anniversary of Armistice, 1969
- John C. Argue, 2004
- Count Baillet-Latour, 1964
- Elgin Baylor, 2009
- Joan Benoit, 2017
- Billy Graham Crusade, 1963 September 8
- Judge William A. Bowen, 1955
- Coliseum Commission – 1984 Olympics, 1984
- Coliseum Commission (1933–1944), 1970
- Coliseum Commission (1945–1970), 1970
- Coliseum Commission (1971–1998), 1998
- Coliseum Track and Field Records, 2002
- Community Development Association, 1932
- Pierre de Coubertin, 1958
- Newell "Jeff" Cravath, 1960
- Dean Bartlett Cromwell, 1963
- Anita DeFrantz, 2017
- Mildred "Babe" Didrickson, 1961
- Earthquake Restoration, 1999
- John Ferraro, 2000
- John Jewett Garland, 1972
- William May Garland, 1949
- Kenneth F. Hahn, 1993
- Elmer "Gus" Henderson, 1971
- Paul Hoy Helms, 1956
- Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsch, 2005
- Israeli Olympic Athletes, 1984
- Pope John Paul II, 1987
- Howard Harding Jones, 1955
- President John F. Kennedy, 1964
- Francis "Frank" Leahy, 1974
- Nelson Mandela, 2014
- James Francis Cardinal McIntyre and Mary's Hour, 1966
- John McKay, 2001
- Mercy Bowl, 1961
- J.D. Morgan, 1984
- Jesse P. Mortensen, 1963
- Jim Murray, 1999
- William Henry "Bill" Nicholas, 1990
- Walter F. O'Malley, 2008
- James Cleveland "Jesse" Owens, 1984
- Charles W. Paddock, 1955
- Rams Reunion, 2007
- Daniel Farrell Reeves, 1972
- Jackie Robinson, 2005
- Knute Rockne, 1955
- Pete Rozelle, 1998
- Henry Russell "Red" Sanders, 1959
- W.R. "Bill" Schroeder, 1990
- Vin Scully, 2008
- Andrew Latham "Andy" Smith, 1956
- William Henry "Bill" Spaulding, 1971
- Amos Alonzo Stagg, 1965
- Brice Union Taylor, 1975
- USC All-Americans (1880–2005), 2007
- Glenn Scobey "Pop" Warner, 1956
- Kenneth Stanley Washington, 1972
- Jerry West, 2009
- John R. Wooden, 2008
In popular culture
Due to its location near Hollywood, the Coliseum has been used in numerous commercials, TV programs, videogames and films over the years.
- 1976: Two-Minute Warning was mostly filmed inside the Coliseum, featuring a football game known as "Championship X" between Los Angeles and Baltimore, similar to the Super Bowl.
- 1978: Heaven Can Wait was filmed inside the Coliseum, featuring a fictitious Super Bowl XII game between the Los Angeles Rams & the Pittsburgh Steelers.
- 1979: The football scenes of North Dallas Forty were shot in the Coliseum. The scenes were filmed at night, with very low light, both for effect and to downplay the fact that the stands were empty.
- 1997: Money Talks: The climatic shootout scene takes place in the Coliseum.
- 1982: An episode of CHiPs featured Bruce Penhall in his television debut in the episode "Speedway Fever". Like Penhall himself, his on-screen character Bruce Nelson won the 1982 World Speedway Championship final at the Coliseum. Scenes were filmed in the pits (located inside the tunnel) during the meeting between Penhall's actual races and the episode also used actual television footage of the 1982 World Final.
- 2003: The Coliseum was used in the filming of the last episode of the second season of the television series 24.
- 2008: This was the starting point of a popular reality show, The Amazing Race in its thirteenth season.
- Banc of California Stadium
- List of NCAA Division I FBS football stadiums
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- Harold A. Henry, Los Angeles City Council president and later a member of the Coliseum Commission
- Rosalind Wiener Wyman, first representative of the Los Angeles City Council on the Coliseum Commission, 1958
- Ransom M. Callicott, Los Angeles City Council, commission member, 1962
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Where will the Rams play? For the first three seasons we'll play at the L.A. Coliseum. In 2019, we'll move into the most advanced, world-class stadium ever built located in Inglewood, CA.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.|
- LA Memorial Coliseum.com – Official website (operated by USC)
- Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission – operated by Los Angeles County
- Los Angeles Sports Council
- USC Trojans.com – L.A. Memorial Coliseum
- LA Coliseum Astrovision – Everything you wanted to know about Astrovision