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USC and Los Angeles Politicians celebrate a renovated Coliseum

USC and Los Angeles Politicians celebrate a renovated Coliseum

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The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum held a ribbon cutting to celebrate the completion of its renovations on Thursday.

USC interim Senior Vice President David Brown spoke first, followed by USC President Carol Folt, Mayor Eric Garcetti and Supervisor Janice Hahn. That was just the beginning as USC alumni and Lieutenant Commander Mark Simpkins took over from there, followed by United Airlines representative Mark Krilliic, Councilman Curren Price, USC Athletic Director Lynn Swann and finally USC Head Football coach Clay Helton.

Each praised the rich history of the venue, which has hosted everything from World Series to Super Bowls, the Olympics and United States presidents. They also praised the significant and much needed upgrades to the facility.

This was a $315 million renovation that was privately funded. It’s the first upgrades for the 96-year old stadium since 1994 and its a massive improvement. The upgrade added aisles, increased leg room, and features all new seats that are wider and have cup holders. The Coliseum also has updated WiFi technology, all new electrical and plumbing, plus all new lighting for the field and stadium. 650 new video screens have also been added to the stadium. All of that comes before mentioning the Scholarship Tower, which plays home to the concourse, suits, luxury boxes, luxury decks and the press box. The famed peristyle was also completely restored.

The only downsides seem to be a hugely reduced capacity from over 90,000 down to 78,467. For an already quiet stadium, that could be a huge issue. There’s also obstructed views for some of the more affordable seats next to the scholarship tower and a hideous field suite and portable bleacher combination in the east end zone. This, of course, went unmentioned during the press conference.

Here’s a sample of what was said by Folt, Helton and Swann during the ribbon cutting ceremony:

Carol Folt

“It is such a pleasure to be here and I’m going to use my very official position to give you my first impression. Wow! This is amazing, we’re doing the ribbon cutting ceremony but it is such a celebration and it is wonderful to be with you. We’re celebrating what our city leaders, the local community, what the larger Trojan family can accomplish when people work and dream together. The Coliseum was created, as you all know, as a memorial to honor veterans of World War I and it now stands as a tribute to all veterans. We’re so proud to be able to keep this name, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. it, of course, has been the site of so many major historic moments. In 1960, this is where John F. Kennedy came and assured an audience of 80,000 people that this was not the last frontier but a new frontier. And of course at the time that was the largest crowd that has ever been to hear a political speech. In 1964, this is where the reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came and spoke so passionately and persuasively about the importance of passing the civil rights act. two Olympics have been hosted at the Coliseum. In 1932, of course it was the site of the summer Olympic games. In 1984, it hosted track events as well as the opening and closing ceremonies. And in 2028, the Coliseum will be the first venue in the world to host ceremonies for three summer Olympics. Since 1923, more than 36 million people have watched our Trojans play in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.”

Clay Helton

“What a great day to be a Trojan, huh? I apologize I’m half way through training camp, so you get my coach’s voice right now, I can’t get out of character. My whole adult life has been about seeing teams come together and special teams and special people come together to accomplish amazing things. to watch this project take place and to see a group of people come together to accomplish something so amazing has absolutely been a dream for our coaching staff and our football team. to see an administration to be able to say, you know what the status quo isn’t good enough, the standards of excellence at USC is the best in the entire country and we will go ahead and build the best stadium in the entire country. To have that vision and to do that is amazing.

To have our city’s political leadership to be able to say, you know what not only is this good for USC, but this is great for the city of Los Angeles, thank you for you and what you have done. Thank you to the donors that allowed this to be privately funded and to the alumni and fans who gave private money, to the businesses in our local community, to our great friends at United Airlines, thank you for what you have done to keep this a privately funded project and to allow us to do this. Thank you to the brilliant architects that put together what you’re fixing to walk in and see. Thank God you all are a lot smarter than ball coaches cause this thing is absolutely beautiful. 

Thank you to the 400 men and women who worked at a time that i got to meet last week. The blue collar contractors and workers that worked daylight until dawn. I come in at 5:30, they already had the lights on working. They worked Saturdays and Sunday and I thank you for all the hard work you have done. I have one of the more special things I think Mr. Swann and our administration for allowing us in the first opening ball game, every person that gave blood, sweat and tears to this project as construction workers are going to be sitting here for the Fresno State game. And finally to our veterans, thank you. Thank you for the freedom that allows us to play the game we love and allows us to play in such an amazing place.

I hope each and every one of you get the opportunity to do something I did last Friday. I got to pull up 110 young men into that tunnel and I started walking down the tunnel. And as I started walking down the tunnel, I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand up because I knew I was in a special place with some history. A place that has not only had 11 national championship teams, the most NFL draft picks in the history of any college football team but has also hosted a world series, a super bowl, two presidents addressing the nation, the pope blessing mass right here, Revered Billy Graham having mass right here. the ability to have that much history as you walk down. And maybe, most importantly, to have the greatest band director of the last 50-years, Dr. Art Bartner, and the best band in the history of the game. And when you walk down on United Airlines field, I want you to all have a chance to do it. because when I hit the ground, I have three children by birth and 110 adopted sons. And to see them hit the field last Friday night and to see the pride in their eyes, to see the pride of what the city of Los Angeles has just got and what USC has just been given and most importantly out students and student-athletes, the gift that they’ve been given, I cannot thank each and every one of you enough. when you hit the field, you realize, USC is the most special place in the world and it is because of its people and the city of Los Angeles is the most special place in the world because of its citizens. Thank you for this gift that you have given us and we can’t wait to see you.”

Lynn Swann

“This is a great day to be a Trojan and I’m thrilled to celebrate the completion of the redesigned, refurbished and restored United Airlines Field at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Coliseum is the traditional home of our Trojan family. It’s where generations of families and friends have gathered over the years and have celebrated not just USC’s success but each other’s success. Together we understand this place is more than just a stadium. It holds memories and experiences dear to all of us and we will create new ones here. I’m not going to go through all my experiences here. Playing here in 1972 and being in awe walking through that tunnel for the very first time. Having teammates like Sam Cunningham, who were great teammates and remain great friends and continue the trojan bridge of friendship that we have. Coming back to the Coliseum for my first pro bowl to play here. Coming back to the Coliseum in Los Angeles as a member of ABC sports to cover the 1984 Olympics. This has been a tremendous place to watch and today I get to watch the next generation for Trojan football players, soccer players, lacrosse players come here and compete and make their own memories. Six years ago, USC athletics had a vision. We set forth on a bold and ambitious plan to restore our home and our plan was to do it right. To Enhance the game day experience for all of us and to fund it with private money, taking no government or student fees. Our confidence to achieve this was rooted in one thing. The strength of the Trojan family.”

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