Although construction is already under way, a groundbreaking ceremony Monday officially marked the beginning of a two-year, $270 million renovation of Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, while United Airlines confirmed its purchase of naming rights for the venue.
Under the 16-year naming-rights deal, the stadium will be known as United Airlines Memorial Coliseum, beginning in August 2019.
"The university has a time-honored commitment to the Coliseum, serving as its longest enduring tenant," USC President C.L. Max Nikias said. "USC is honored to be the caretaker of this Los Angeles treasure. Together with United, we can ensure the Coliseum's future as a world-class venue and true community asset."
Details of the naming-rights deal, including a price tag, were not released.
The Coliseum renovation project is not expected to impact the Trojans' 2018 home football season, and it is expected to be completed in time for the team's 2019 home opener. The Coliseum is also serving as home for the Los Angeles Rams while the NFL team's stadium is built in Inglewood.
Plans call for an overall reduction in the Coliseum's seating capacity, from 93,607 to about 77,500. All of the seats will be replaced, and the project will include handrails, new suites, upgraded entryways and video screens.
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.
Other elements of the renovation include:
- Adding aisles, widening seats and increasing leg room in some sections
- Building a structure on the south side of the stadium including suites, loge boxes, club seats, a concourse and press box
- Restoration of the peristyle to resemble its original design
- Updating Wi-Fi technology
- Additional concession stands
- Replacing electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems
- Installing new field and stadium lighting
Following the project, one-third of the seats are expected to be reserved for donors who make "a one-time capital gift and are members of the Trojan Athletic Fund." The other two-thirds will not require any additional donation, with USC officials saying they are "committed to providing affordable seating options" for fans.
The student and band seats will not be relocated.
"Over almost a century, the Coliseum has endured as one of the world's greatest sports and entertainment venues, a civic monument, and architectural icon in the heart of Los Angeles," County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, a member of the Coliseum Commission, said. "Through this restoration project, USC continues to demonstrate its responsible stewardship of the stadium. With support from United Airlines, USC is ushering in a modern era for this historic landmark and preserving its legacy for generations to come."