Culver City Observer -

By Fred Altieri
Sports Reporter 

Coliseum Renovation Remains on Track

Part 1 of 2

 

August 9, 2018

Fred Altieri

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Peristyle with Olympic Rings

The rejuvenation at Exposition Park continues in preparation for the upcoming football season. 2018 will be the third of four consecutive years the USC Trojans will be sharing the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum with the Los Angeles Rams. The latest renovation on the iconic stadium began last year. Much-needed upgrades are the order of the day for the next two years.

This will also be the final year the landmark will be called the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Beginning in 2019 it will be known as the United Airlines Memorial Coliseum. The naming rights will cost the airline company $69 million for 16 years of stadium branding. Certainly the added income will help offset the building's budgetary requirements.

Among his duties as the Coliseum's General Manager, Joe Furin is the liaison overseeing the construction project for the University of Southern California. Furin makes sure that the building's interests are covered as well as the critical issues that his office has to engage the USC Athletic Department or the Rams on.

"This is a major project in and of itself. Within it, it's obviously taking 18 months. There are things that are happening before the 2018 football season and things that won't happen until the 2019 football season," said Furin.

"The main project will still be under construction. For 2018 a portion of the stadium that will be closed off and inaccessible to the public. Construction will happen Monday through Friday. We will pause to host a game on the weekend, then construction will start again the following Monday."

The department on the USC campus that oversees capital projects is called Capital Construction Design (CCD). They are basically running the project. The construction team in place is a joint venture: Hathaway Dinwiddie / AECOM-Hunt.

There has been plenty of construction at Exposition Park the past several years. The Banc of California Stadium, east and adjacent to the Coliseum, recently completed its finishing touches on the previous site of the L.A. Sports Arena. Lucas Museum of Narrative Art just broke ground earlier this year where Parking Lots 1, 2 and 3 used to be, west of the Coliseum.

Furin: "A little higher vantage point is to talk about Exposition Park in general. When you talk about the LAFC investment of around $300 million, the Coliseum project is $300 million and the Lucas museums that are being built is pushing a billion dollars. That's a huge investment in this Park."

"So all of these projects are going but overall this Park itself is getting a cash infusion and capital projects in some ways an unprecedented scale. And that can only help and enhance visitors to the Park, visitors to particular events within the park."

"We don't want to live in the past. We know we have to modernize. In order to provide for the needs of the fanbase as well as meet the needs of international soccer games that travel or are looking for a place to play or rock concerts, there are amenities that we don't have that this construction project will help deliver."

The overall project is to be completed for the start of the 2019 football season. Furin said all of the smaller benchmarks have been met and some sooner than planned. Currently everything is tracking well for the project to be completed on time.

New grass was installed weeks ago, allowing time to take hold for the Rams first preseason game against the Oakland Raiders on Saturday, August 18. The field will get a further test one week later as the Rams host the Houston Texans. UNLV visits the Trojans on Saturday, September 1, for their season opener on the new turf.

Some things were already in place inside the Coliseum. For example: the east-end scoreboards, two video scoreboards that were taken off of the peristyle and replaced prior to last season.

"We didn't plan on doing the video boards and then we had an opportunity to do them. So we got that out of the way," said Furin. "We just moved some of the scheduling around within this overall project. The overall master project is still proceeding well."

"We're in the process of working a master plan out for continued stadium maintenance because this current project only covers a portion of the stadium. So we are developing the ideas, flushing through what makes sense, figuring out what the cost amount is so we can identify the funding and then initiate these projects."

Fred Altieri

Coliseum construction benchmarks on target

"There's no date on any of these future things other than we know there are other areas of the stadium that also need some TLC and enhancement. So we're in the process of developing that plan now."

A portion of the stadium will be closed off to the fans but the teams will not be affected: not the playing surface, not the locker rooms, not the behind the scenes elements. The fans will have to work around the construction zone, which includes shutting down some concession stands and restrooms. There are plans to minimize the disruptions and inconveniences.

"The University signed a long-term lease. It ended up being a 98-year lease. The USC football team is not going anywhere in the near future," said Furin. "One: the Coliseum is a civic treasure and the University is fully committed to that. Two: it's the house for their football team. So this is an ongoing process to make sure the stadium meets modern needs."

 

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