USC sells Coliseum name to United Airlines

coliseum-1932oly-lapl.jpgThe Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum during the 1932 Olympics. Los Angeles Public Library photo collection.

USC brought politicians, donors and media to the Coliseum on Monday to show off the $270 million construction project to upgrade the historic Olympic stadium — and to announce that from now on, USC wants everyone to stop referring to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

The new name starting in 2019, says USC president Max Nikias, is United Airlines Memorial Coliseum. The airline is paying $69 million over 16 years to have its name on our stadium, which in 2028 is set to welcome its third Summer Olympics. USC runs the publicly owned landmark in Exposition Park.

"As part of our stewardship agreement for the Coliseum, USC committed to finding a sponsor whose support would help us preserve this legendary landmark," Nikias said in an email to Trojans supporters. "We have indeed found one that shares our commitment to the local community: United Airlines. Our partnership will allow us not only to preserve this historic landmark, but ensure it remains a spectacular stadium for the twenty-first century.

"With this news, I am pleased to share that the home of Trojan football—and a treasure for the city of Los Angeles, our state, and even our nation—will be renamed the United Airlines Memorial Coliseum."

I'm not a fan of most marketing renamings, especially of civic landmarks. This one is especially obnoxious, given the Coliseum's hallowed place in Los Angeles history and sports lore, and its original naming to honor the dead of World War I. There's also so much to make fun of about it.

USC placed a story in the Wall Street Journal to tell its side, knowing there would be blowback. My view is that most everyone in LA should and will just ignore the temporary commercial name, like they do at Grauman's Chinese. Just skip it.

Here's my tweet on Monday and some of the responses from Angelenos and others. The photo illustration here is by Highland Park artist Stuart Rapeport.


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