Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
|The Grand Old Lady|
Interior view in 2006
Location in Los Angeles County
|Location||3911 South Figueroa Street
Los Angeles, California, 90037
|Public transit||Expo Park/USC|
|Owner||State of California, City of Los Angeles, and County of Los Angeles|
|Operator||University of Southern California|
|Capacity||93,607 (USC games)
80,000 (Rams games, expandable to 90,000 for a few special games)
|Broke ground||December 21, 1921|
|Opened||May 1, 1923|
|Renovated||1930, 1964, 1977-78, 1983, 1993, 1995, 2011, 2017-2019 (scheduled)|
|Construction cost||$954,872.98 (original)($13.3 million in 2016 dollars)
$954,869 (renovations by USC in 2010)
($1.04 million in 2016 dollars)
|Architect||John and Donald Parkinson|
|General contractor||Edwards, Widley & Dixon Company|
|USC Trojans (NCAA) (1923–present)
Los Angeles Rams (NFL) (1946–79, 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 entrance to the Coliseum, including the two bronze 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 sports stadium located in the Exposition Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. The stadium serves as the current home to the University of Southern California (USC) Trojans football team, and as the temporary home for the National Football League (NFL)'s Los Angeles Rams. The Coliseum was home to the Rams from 1946 to 1979, when they moved to Anaheim Stadium in Anaheim, California, and 2016 to 2018, after which they'll move to the newly City of Champions Stadium in the City of Inglewood. From 1982 to 1994, the Los Angeles Raiders played in the Coliseum. The facility has a listed seating capacity of 93,607 for USC football games, making it the largest football stadium in the Pac-12 Conference, and a capacity of 80,000 for Rams games making the stadium the fourth largest in the NFL.
The stadium is located in Exposition Park and across the street from USC. The Coliseum is jointly owned by the state of California, Los Angeles County, and the 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; in September 2016, the Sports Arena was demolished, and Banc of California Stadium, a soccer-specific stadium and home of Major League Soccer expansion club Los Angeles FC, will be built upon the former Sports Arena site and is scheduled to open in March 2018.
The Coliseum is the first stadium to have hosted the Summer Olympic Games twice, in 1932 and 1984 and has been proposed to host the 2024 Summer Olympics. The stadium 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 three voting members appointed by the three ownership interests and meets on a quarterly 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 Sports Arena. The 98-year lease took effect on July 29, 2013, and was signed by the parties on September 5, 2013. The agreement requires the University to make approximately $100 million in physical improvements to the Coliseum, pay $1 million each year rent to the State of California, 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 Sports Arena Complex.
- 1 Present use
- 2 History
- 3 Seating and attendance
- 4 "Court of Honor" plaques
- 5 In popular culture
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
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 in 2019. 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 the fourth quarter of USC football games, and other special occasions (e.g., when the Olympics are being held in another city).
It was lit to honor the fallen Israeli Athletes from the 1972 Munich Olympics Games. It was also lit for several days following the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986. The torch was lit for over a week following the September 11 attacks in 2001. In 2004, the cauldron was lit non-stop for seven days in tribute to president Ronald Reagan, who had died. It was lit again 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, the torch was lit for the ThinkCure! charity ceremony, while Neil Diamond's "Heartlight" was played and the majority of the attendees turned on their complimentary souvenir keychain flashlights. It was lit for the duration of Special Olympics World Games held in Los Angeles from July 25, 2015 to August 2, 2015. The cauldron was most recently lit for the returning Los Angeles Rams first home game on September 18, 2016 against the Seattle Seahawks.
The Coliseum was commissioned in 1921 as a memorial to LA 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 work 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 with two tiers of tunnels, expanding the seating to 101,574. The now-signature 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.
On October 29, 2015, the University of Southern California unveiled an estimated $270-million plan to renovate and restore the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The proposed upgrades include replacing all seats in the stadium, adding new aisles and widening some seats, construction of a large structure on the southern side of the stadium that contains box suites, premium lounges, and an updated press box, restoration of the Peristyle, stadium wide wifi, new video screens, new and upgraded concession stands, upgraded entry concourses, new lighting, modernization of plumbing and electrical systems, and a reduction in capacity of about 16,000 seats, with the final total at approximately 77,500 seats. The plans have been met with mixed reactions from the public. The Los Angeles 2024 Olympic bid committee proposes spending $300 million in added renovations to support its bid added to USC's total.
Construction is expected to start after the conclusion of the 2017 football season, 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.
On October 6, 1923, Pomona College and USC played in the inaugural game at the Los Angeles Coliseum, 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 to 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 UCLA-USC rivalry football games; this tradition was renewed in 2008, even though the two schools play at different stadiums.
In 1932, the Coliseum hosted the 1932 Summer Olympic Games; the first of two Olympiads 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. In 1960 the American Football League's Los Angeles Chargers played at the Coliseum before relocating to San Diego the next year.
Among other sporting events held at the Coliseum over the years was Major League Baseball, which was held at the Coliseum when the Los Angeles Dodgers of the National League relocated from Brooklyn, New York 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. 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.
From 1951 to 1971 the Coliseum hosted what is now called the Pro Bowl.
The field was just barely large enough to fit a baseball diamond. 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 ball field 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. 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 Series played there drew over 92,706 fans, 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.
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.
The coliseum played host to the 2-day California World Music Festival on April 7–8, 1979.
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 September 30th show 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 17th and 18th, 1987. They later returned on their Pop Mart tour, June 21st, 1997.
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.
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 homers 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.
Beginning in June 2007, Insomniac Events began hosting their annual Electronic Dance Music Festival, known as Electric Daisy Carnival, on the Coliseum grounds, also using nearby Exposition Park. 2007's show brought in over 30,000 attendees and 2008's event brought in nearly 75,000 attendees. In 2009 it was expanded to a two-day event, the first day brought in 45,000 attendees, and the second night featured 95,000, with some estimating that the attendance was actually above 100,000. It is currently the biggest electronic dance music festival outside Europe.
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.
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 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 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.
On October 29, 2015, the University of Southern California unveiled an estimated $270-million plan to renovate and restore the stadium.
On January 13, 2016, the NFL gave permission for the St. Louis Rams to relocate back to Los Angeles. The Rams play at the Coliseum until the new stadium is ready for the 2019 season, when the team is expected to move into the City of Champions Stadium 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.
And that same year on September 18, the Coliseum hosted the first Rams regular season home game since 1979, against the Seattle Seahawks.
The Coliseum and the NFL today
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 has had with trying to finance a renovated Coliseum, Rose Bowl or brand new stadium, pro football has been 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 Wednesday, 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 support the spending despite significant disapproval from the local population cite that the renovations are 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 eventually pay 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 recent times of bringing 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 will change and other options will 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 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 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 on May 30, 2014.
The new master lease contains a provision that requires 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 is required to negotiate in good faith with the NFL to structure a sublease or occupancy agreement on fair market terms; USC can 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 has the right to refuse to enter into an agreement with the NFL if the school reasonably determines that the NFL team being proposed poses 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.
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. UCLA 1945 (UCLA home game)
- 4. 102,548 — vs. UCLA 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.
"Court of Honor" plaques
"Commemorating outstanding persons or events, athletic or otherwise, that have had a definite impact upon the history, glory, and growth of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum" (also the future nearby site of Banc of California Stadium):
In popular culture
Due to its location near Hollywood, the Coliseum has been used in hundreds of commercials, TV programs and films over the years. Some examples:
- 1944. The Falcon in Hollywood.
- 1976: The films Gus and Two-Minute Warning were set at the Coliseum.
- 1978: In the film Heaven Can Wait, the Los Angeles Rams use the Coliseum as their home stadium; it is also used to play the Super Bowl.
- 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.
- 1991: The finale of the action film The Last Boy Scout was set in the Coliseum.
- 1994: In the film D2: The Mighty Ducks, Team USA holds a practice at the Coliseum after an embarrassing loss to Team Iceland in the Junior Goodwill Games.
- 1996: The basketball scene in the film Escape from L.A. was set in the Coliseum.
- 1996: A scene in Jerry Maguire taking place after a football game is shot in the outdoor concourse of the stadium
- 1997: The final scene of the film Money Talks was shot in the Coliseum
- 2002: In the film S1m0ne, virtual actress and singer Simone performs a concert and passes it around the world.
- 2006: A computer-generated version of the stadium is used in the Pixar movie Cars as the setting for the final "Piston Cup" race.
- 2013: In the film World War Z the Coliseum is seen being destroyed by the military.
- 1972: The Coliseum was used in the Columbo episode "The Most Crucial Game"
- 1972: The Coliseum was used in the Banacek episode "Let's Hear It for a Living Legend".
- 1973: The Coliseum was the setting for an extended pursuit of a former football star in the Adam-12 episode "Southwest Division".
- late 1970s: The original Charlie's Angels TV series shot three episodes at the Coliseum.
- 1976: The Coliseum is seen in the first episode of the sixth season of Emergency!
- 1978: Hosting the fictional football team, the Los Angeles Cougars, the Coliseum was the setting for the episode "Killer Instinct" of the second season of The Incredible Hulk
- 1980: An episode of Quincy, M.E. from March used the stadium as the center of a botulism plot. It was purported to be hosting the 1980 "World Cup Soccer Championships".
- 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.
- 1988: An episode of Full House in the episode "Beach Boy Bingo", featuring a Beach Boys concert.
- 2001: The third episode of Alias used the Coliseum as a Berlin location.
- 2003: The Coliseum was used in the filming of the last episode of the second season of the television series 24.
- 2005: In the fourth season of America's Next Top Model, the season's remaining contestants were taught the runway walk here.
- 2006: The opening credits for BET's television series The Game were filmed in the Coliseum.
- 2008: The Coliseum served as the starting line for the 13th installment of CBS's The Amazing Race.
- 1986: Anime Film Captain Tsubasa: Sekai Daikessen! Jr. World Cup! Japan's team play the World Cup Soccer in the United States faces the hosts and South America combined Europeans defeated by a landslide
- 2005: In The Simpsons in the episode 343 of season 16, Homer looks at the halftime show of Super Bowl; the first Super Bowl is one person playing a Bombardon.
- 2006: A computer-generated version of the Coliseum was used for Budweiser beer TV commercials during the 2006 FIFA World Cup and then the 2006 NFL playoffs, the only change being that football players were on the field in the NFL playoffs version, whereas soccer players were on the field in the World Cup version. The stadium was shown filled to capacity, with each spectator participating in a classic card stunt. The imagery turned out to be a gigantic beer bottle on one sideline, pouring into a gigantic beer mug on the other sideline, whose contents were then shown being drained by an invisible consumer.
- 2004: In MTX Mototrax, the Coliseum appears as the "X Games IX" level.
- 2009: In Midnight Club: Los Angeles, the Coliseum appears in South Central LA in the complete edition of the game.
- 2011: In the video game Duke Nukem Forever, it is in the first level where the player must battle a Cycloid Emperor.
- 2011: In DiRT 3, there are rallycross races and gymkhana stages around and in the Coliseum.
- 2013: In Grand Theft Auto V, a stadium based on the Coliseum and the Forum in Inglewood is located in Los Santos, San Andreas, the game's parody of Los Angeles.
- 2014: In Wasteland 2, a faction known as the "Mannerites" inhabit the dilapidated but largely intact Coliseum, known as "Angel Oracle" (so named due to these being the only letters remaining on the sign).
- 2016: In Madden NFL 17, the Coliseum returned to the video game series as the Los Angeles Rams returned to the stadium that year.
- A.J. Barnes, active in fight against giving USC preferential rights in the Coliseum, 1932
- Lloyd G. Davies, Los Angeles City Council member, 1943–51, urged that the city take over full management of the Coliseum
- 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 & Sports Arena – Official site (operated by USC)
- Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission – Hosted by LA County
- Los Angeles Sports Council
- USC Trojans.com – L.A. Memorial Coliseum
- Aerial photo – includes USC campus from USGS via Microsoft Research Maps
- LA Coliseum Astrovision – Everything you wanted to know about Astrovision