Culver City Observer -

By Fred Altieri
Sports Reporter 

Coliseum Renovation Remains on Track

Part 2

 

August 9, 2018



It is appropriate that the first known construction cranes were incorporated by the Greeks over 2,500 years ago. In Exposition Park modern cranes tower high above the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum’s south rim in 2018. They dance, move and sway to the chorus of hundreds of workers below, each step succinctly choreographed to sparks created by the welding, cutting, grinding, pounding of their rhythm.

While this renovation process continues at the Coliseum, its two main tenants will be hitting the field very soon as the newly inserted grass takes hold. The USC Trojans will host six games, including their season opener on Saturday, Sept. 1 against the UNLV Running Rebels. The Rams are slated to play at least nine games including two preseason games in August.

The current focus is the preparation of the stadium’s South Tower where the old press box stood. The skeletal structure will be complete but the renovation will continue as the football season moves forward. Approximately 6,500 new seats have been already installed inn front of the tower.

The new tower structure will include the press box, luxury suites, loge boxes, club seats and the kitchen facilities as well. The rest of the stadium won’t get new seats until the next off-season but will be ready for the 2019 football season. The old elevator tower will remain from a historical perspective on the exterior of the building.

“In some ways this is personal to me. I was born and raised in Los Angeles and a big sports fan growing up,” said Joe Furin, the Coliseum's general manager. “I worked here in the '80s and '90s and then I left for a while. It wasn’t really until I left and started traveling professionally.”

“I went all around the country and traveled internationally. I did see other facilities and that’s when I really realized how iconic and special the Coliseum was, with a history that no other stadium can match. So I, too, am honored to be a steward of this project, be here at this time and see the dramatic changes that are happening.”

In 2013 the University of Southern California assumed management rights for the Coliseum and have all the day-to-day operating control including the capital improvements. As general manager, Furin is a USC employee. He started working for the Coliseum Commission back in 1986. He left after nine years of service and returned in 2011.

“We don’t want to live in the past," Furin said. "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.”

“It’s no secret that we don’t have luxury suites. And when you have a project like Inglewood being built or even LAFC. They don’t build stadiums like this anymore. Or they include premium amenities and different fan enhancements that we just don’t have. They weren’t programmed in the 1920s.”

Once football starts for this year the construction for all intent and purposes will be condensed to pretty much within the tower. That will continue through January. Once the football season is over the rest of the seats will be replaced. But the majority of the work for the coming season is all concentrated to the South Tower structure.

Parking is also being addressed. Parking Lots 1, 2 and 3 are now under construction for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. Ultimately there will be two parking garages as part of the complex. The net effect is Exposition Park will actually pick up additional parking spaces from what the surface lots had.

By February 2019 and into the next off-season the structure should be completed. The benchmarks are being hit and are on schedule to open up for the 2019 football season. That will be the final year for the Rams in the building as the team moves to its brand new confines in Inglewood beginning in 2020.

But USC will still be playing football at the Coliseum going into the 22nd Century. As Furin emphasized previously, "One: the Coliseum is a civic treasure and the University is fully committed to that. Two: it’s the house for their football team.”

“There was a time period when this facility had been neglected. You take a 95-year-old building, you take on that it had been neglected and people are going to have that impression that it’s forgotten or it’s past its time.”

“The University is changing that perception and we will be able to live up to the legacy that we have and be able to continue that legacy into its second century,” Furin said.

 

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