USC and United Airlines have reached a new naming rights deal for the Coliseum after a previous naming deal ran into controversy, the university announced June 7.
Beginning in August, the venue will be referred to as United Airlines Field at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
USC, which assumed control of the Coliseum in 2013 from the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission, is in the midst of a $315 million renovation project to upgrade the nearly century-old facility. The original naming rights deal with United Airlines to call the field the United Airlines Memorial Coliseum, would have brought in $69 million over 16 years to offset some of the renovation cost.
But last year, Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn, who is president of the Coliseum Commission, criticized that naming rights deal in an op-ed submission to the Los Angeles Times, saying that giving exclusive prominence to the corporate name “insults the memories of those the Coliseum was intended to honor.” The Coliseum was built in tribute to soldiers from the Los Angeles area who died fighting in Europe in World War I.
In response to that op-ed, Janet Lamkin, president of California for United Airlines, wrote a letter to the university – a copy of which was obtained by the Associated Press in March – offering to pull out of the naming rights deal.
Instead, the airline and the university reached the compromise giving United Airlines naming rights over the field for 10 years. Financial terms of this revised deal were not disclosed.
“We always want to do what is best for the communities in which we operate – and in this case, reaching an agreement which upholds the name of such a respected venue while modernizing it for the benefit of future generations was the right thing to do,” Lamkin said in the announcement of the new naming rights deal.
Education, energy, engineering/construction and infrastructure reporter Howard Fine can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @howardafine.