Rams Host Broncos Saturday

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Renovation Debut

The Los Angeles Rams will play their first and only 2019 preseason home game in Los Angeles this Saturday, August 24. They host the Denver Broncos at the new United Airlines Field inside the just-renovated Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. And the changes are impressive. The media walk-through last Thursday prior to the ribbon-cutting ceremony was proof enough.

"We started this project five years ago with several goals in mind," began Steve Lopes, University of Southern California's COO and Senior Associate Athletic Director. "The most important goal we had was to enhance the Game Day experience for every fan and to provide a home-field advantage for our football team."

"We believe the renovated Coliseum will be the centerpiece of the Exposition Park Renaissance, which is taking place around us today and many generations to follow... From the beginning our motto was: Bigger isn't better, but better is better."

Originally the Rams were supposed to start playing the 2019 NFL season at Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park in Inglewood. However, construction delays due to rain forced the project to be pushed back one year, giving the Rams a reprieve. The unexpected gift: the Rams will be able to enjoy with style their final season in the Coliseum along with their fans.

Last season, Ram and Trojan fans had to navigate multiple areas under-construction just to enter the stadium. Concession and other essential services were compromised and the internet Wi-Fi system was weak and unreliable. With fan social media now an integral part of major event management, the need to offer digital communication is as vital as the teams on the field.

"There's a huge investment in terms of the technological infrastructure of this building," said Jeff Fucci, USC Associate Athletic Director. "Wi-Fi for all fans throughout the stadium so people will be able to share on social media and more fan-friendly features."

"There's over 600 new LED monitor screens. We can communicate with every single screen from one location and personalize messages to the audience. Audio has been added throughout the stadium. Live broadcast feeds will now be available at concession stands and restrooms."

There are now seven different levels at the south tower of the Coliseum. The basement level has food and food storage. The second floor contains the Founders Suites and the Founders Club area. Visually, it's state of the art design, quality and feel. The architect was able to incorporate doors that completely open wide to enjoy the Southern California weather.

The third floor is the Club Level, designed to accommodate over 1,100 people and services the Club seats and Loge Box holders. They all sit on Level Four, which includes restrooms, TV's and a cool space to retreat to on a hot day. Level Five has 16 additional suites. Level Six is the nerve center of the entire building and contains the Press Level, coaches' box and operational features.

The last level, the roof deck at the top is a very unique space called the 1923 Club," said Fucci. "It has couches, outdoor lounge chairs, seating and a drink rail with great looks at the field. It's meant to be a social space and has an incredible view of the San Gabriel Mountains, Downtown L.A. skyline and the USC campus."

Hundreds representing USC, L.A. City officials, guests, construction workers, veterans and the USC marching band gathered in front of the revitalized Coliseum Peristyle for the ribbon cutting ceremony. "Wow. This is amazing!" exclaimed Dr. Carol Folt, who recently became USC's 12th President on July 1.

"We're celebrating what our city leaders, the local community, what the larger Trojan family can accomplish when people work and dream together... We're so proud to keep this name: the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. It has been the site of many major historic moments."

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, also a USC graduate, followed: "The $315 million belief in this place, this institution, in this city and in those memories was made possible by this Trojan family. By each one of the donors, by each one of the building tradesmen and women who came in here and gave us their labor because it is human beings who build buildings, not just plans."

"To the Board and to United Airlines, who stepped up in an exceptional way. The United Airlines Field at Memorial Coliseum looks amazing. So thank you for believing in this town."

Saturday's game between the Rams and Broncos will be the Coliseum's first test run, albeit an exhibition game where Rams head coach Sean McVay will once again not play his starters. His strategy is receiving attention, primarily based on reducing injuries to key players prior to the regular season. Rest and rejuvenation was another reason for the Rams' success in 2018.

That still didn't prevent hopeful starters such as second-year linebacker Micah Kiser injuring his left pectoral in the Rams 14-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys last Saturday in Hawaii. "Part of it is we do utilize these as evaluation tools, especially for guys that have a chance to be situational starters and that's where Micah was putting himself in a position to be," said McVay.

"You hate it for him, because he's worked so hard and he's done such a great job. But I don't think you can let it change the approach when we've tried to be so intentional about that already. I'm not going to let one situation affect the way we go about it as we move forward."

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