One of the most iconic venues in college football has officially been corporatized.
USC announced Monday that the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum will officially become the United Airlines Memorial Coliseum beginning in August 2019. The new name is part of a 16-year naming rights agreement with United Airlines worth $69 million.
As reported by Sports Business Journal back in May, the naming rights deal will help with the ongoing $270 million renovation project for the Coliseum. USC said in a press release that its 98-year lease agreement (yes, 98 years) to operate the Coliseum includes “provisions to secure naming rights that would help underwrite the restorations.”
The agreement will support a $270 million project to restore and preserve the Coliseum and upgrade its facilities for fans, athletes and the community, generating thousands of jobs. The renovation will honor the stadium’s rich architectural history and preserve its status as a registered historic landmark, while adding modern amenities that will improve the visitor experience.
“The university has a time-honored commitment to the Coliseum, serving as its longest enduring tenant. USC is honored to be the caretaker of this Los Angeles treasure,” said USC President C. L. Max Nikias. “Together with United, we can ensure the Coliseum’s future as a world-class venue and true community asset.”
The renovation project aims to “honor the Coliseum’s architectural integrity” and its original design, which dates back nearly 100 years. The United naming rights deal will allow amenities like additional aisles, handrails, wider seats, legroom, cup holders and concessions, updated electrical and plumbing systems, improved wireless Internet capabilities and improved audio and video systems. New suites and club seats will also be added.
The Coliseum has been the home of USC football since 1923. It will also continue to serve as the home for the Los Angeles Rams through 2019. When the Olympics return to Los Angeles in 2028, the Coliseum will host the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as track and field events. Renovations began once the Rams season ended.
“The generosity of our donors — both large and small — will preserve this venue for generations to come and make it a truly world-class facility,” said USC Athletic Director Lynn Swann. “When construction is complete, our home field will be the best it’s ever been for our players, our students and our Trojan fans, and that’s thanks to the contributions from founders and alumni and partners like United Airlines.”
The Coliseum is one of the iconic venues of college football, so slapping a corporate name on it will definitely leave a bad taste in the mouths of the traditionalist crowd — especially among the Trojans fanbase. But to maintain a venue that old isn’t cheap, so USC obviously decided this deal with United Airlines was in its best interests.
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