IT WON'T HAPPEN this season, or probably the next, but greater ease and enjoyment in attending USC home football games could eventually be in the cards for loyal alumni and all Trojan fans.
The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission has as its goal the return of the National Football League to what would be a newly refurbished, state-of-the-art stadium within the Coliseum. If the commission is successful, the Trojans will again share tenancy with a professional football team either an expansion team or an existing franchise that would move to Los Angeles.
Continuing and proposed new enhancements to the community surrounding the venerable structure would, according to supporters, ensure that USC, its football team and Trojan faithful will all benefit by the attraction of a professional team.
Model of exterior entrance
The Coliseum, for so many reasons, has been and continues to be the best and most logical site for professional football, not only in Los Angeles, but throughout Southern Calif-ornia, says Jane Pisano, USCs vice president for external relations. Its close to downtown and to USC, and it has a great history as host to some of the worlds most memorable events two Olympic Games, the first Super Bowl, a Papal Mass, and countless classic performances in football, baseball, soccer, track and field, music and other endeavors.
Placement of a National Football League team in the New Coliseum requires approval from NFL team owners and the Los Angeles City Council, as well as the support of civic and business leaders.
The Coliseum Commission has gained backing both at the local and state level, collecting signatures of support from more than 300 political, business and other community leaders, including Governor Pete Wilson, International Olympic Committee member Anita DeFrantz and Los Angeles Dodgers owner Peter OMalley. Support for the Coliseum has also been expressed in a direct fashion: numerous local companies have already made $10,000 deposits for luxury boxes.
Los Angeles Kings owners Ed Roski and Philip Anschutz, who are building the downtown hockey and basketball arena, say they hope to own the NFL team that would call the New Coliseum home.
SEVERAL MEMBERS of the Trojan Family are playing key roles in the effort to bring professional football back to Los Angeles and give the Coliseum a contemporary look.
Los Angeles City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas 72, Ph.D. 89, is chair of the councils Ad Hoc Committee on Sports Franchise. John Ferraro 48, who played football in the Coliseum for USC, is president of the council and also serves on its sports franchise committee. And USC President Steven Sample and Jane Pisano are leading the campuss support for the New Coliseum and all they believe it would bring to the university and the community.
Regardless of how these specific projects fare, the remarkable achievements by Mark and John in bringing together disparate civic interests have proved that Angelenos can still get together to dream some big dreams, says Sample.
IF THE PROJECT IS approved, Southern Californians would attend sports and other events at a new and improved Coliseum situated within what is envisioned as the Exposition Park Sports Complex.
Beginning with the facility itself, planned changes include better sightlines and viewing angles, with 70 percent of the sideline seats positioned within the endlines; a base capacity of approximately 68,000 spectators; a movable seating section which could quickly increase capacity to 72,500; a main concourse level containing toilet, concession and merchandising facilities for the 40-row lower bowl; an upper concourse with the same facilities accommodating spectators in the 29 rows of the upper deck; and a two-story club seating deck containing 18 rows and 10,000 seats which would feature a club lounge and luxury suites. For Super Bowls or other significant events the New Coliseum could also increase to 80,000 total seating capacity.
Parking for USC and professional games and other events would also be improved. A new 2,000-space parking structure is planned for the area immediately south of the stadium, increasing the overall parking count within Exposition Park to more than 10,000. And 7,500 more spaces adjacent to the park will become available as well. Trams would continuously shuttle fans from 28,000 covered secure spaces including the 10,250 spaces on the University Park Campus to the Coliseum.
The New Coliseum also represents a critical element in a visionary Figueroa Sports and Entertainment Corridor, so named because it would stretch north along Figueroa Street from the Coliseum and Exposition Park Sports Complex to the citys planned new downtown arena for basketball and hockey, and continue on to Dodger Stadium. In conjunction with the Coliseum remodeling, a comprehensive upgrade of amenities within both Exposition and Uni-versity Parks will be made.
USC has launched a major construction project that includes the creation of a formal entrance to the University Park Campus located on Exposition Boulevard just west of Figueroa Street. The improvements were making dovetail nicely with existing plans for the Figueroa corridor, says Thomas Moran, vice president for business affairs at USC. Having a main entry to the campus rather than the eight different entry points weve had not only benefits the university but enhances our connection with our immediate neighbors and the entire downtown community.
Historic Exposition Park has already undergone a major development and expansion program. Some $235 million in public and private funds are turning USCs southern neighbor into one of the worlds premier urban parks.
When the parks new California Science Center opens late this year, it will feature a 3-D IMAX theater and numerous scientific exhibits that draw on the resources of USC, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and other institutions.
All of these factors combined convenient access, improved parking, a state-of-the-art stadium, an expanded Exposition Park, and a connected sports/ entertainment corridor near and through downtown point to one conclusion, say proponents.
USC SUPPORTS of the New Coliseum are looking at the bigger picture of which an up-to-date stadium would be only a part. The entire Uni-versity Park neighborhood and downtown area are undergoing a revitalization that includes improved schools, safer and cleaner streets, and local business growth. Through voluntary contributions to our annual Good Neighbors Campaign, says Pisano, USC faculty and staff are investing hundreds of thousands of dollars of their own money into surrounding neighborhoods. We all recognize the positive effect this investment has on both our neighbors and our university.
The positive impact of the areas flourishing changes doesnt end there, however. There is academic and research potential as well, say USC leaders. The universitys new national research center in multimedia, working hand-in-hand with the USC Annenberg Center for Communication, could turn the Figueroa Street corridor between USC and downtown Los Angeles into a mini-Silicon Valley within a decade. New high-technology firms are already searching for locations near campus in order to avail themselves of the Annenberg Centers high-tech incubator and the universitys programs in communications technology. USC and Los Angeles city leaders say they are united in their desire to bring the budding billion-dollar multimedia industry to their backyard.
In the years ahead, I believe USCs location at the heart of Southern California will be a more important asset for us than ever before, says Sample. We are positioned in the center of the most dynamic and diverse urban area in the world.