A private tour of the only facility in the world to play host to two Olympiads, two Super Bowls and one World Series.
I never turn down an invitation to go on an adventure, so when I was invited to take one of the first private tours now being offered at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, I couldn’t say no. I somehow managed to work my charm in order to get free parking and also ended up receiving a free tour ticket. The $10 self guided tour allows you limited access (basically just the front exterior of the stadium). The $25 guided tour, takes you down into the locker rooms…
…to the top of the stadium…
…and down to the field and tons of other places not generally assessable to the public.
Architect John Parkinson designed some of L.A.’s most iconic buildings including City Hall, Union Station and the L.A. Memorial Coliseum. It was declared a National Historic Landmark on July 27, 1984, the day before the opening ceremony of the 1984 Summer Olympics. The large analog clock and thermometer over the office windows at either end of the peristyle were installed in 1955. Yep, it was hot.
USC rents the Coliseum to various events, including international soccer games, musical concerts and other large outdoor events but it’s primarily the home of the USC Trojans football team.
The 1984 summer Olympics were the frugal games. Los Angeles solicited loads of corporate sponsorships and decided to use mostly existing venues rather than building all new ones. Opening ceremonies were held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and to give the stadium’s entrance a little something special, the Olympic committee commissioned Venice-based sculptor Robert Graham to create “Olympic Gateway.” The statues, modeled on water polo player Terry Schroeder and long jumper from Guyana, Jennifer Innis, are noted for their anatomical accuracy.
The Coliseum and Sports Arena are jointly owned by the State of California, Los Angeles County, and the City of Los Angeles, and both are managed and operated by the University of Southern California. The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission, which consists of three voting members appointed by the three ownership interests and meets on a quarterly basis, provides public oversight of the master lease agreement with USC. Under the lease the University has day-to-day management and operation responsibility for both the Coliseum and Sports Arena. Inside the Commission chambers you’ll find various historical items including a stuffed animal of Sam the Olympic Eagle (which I also had) and a simulated Olympic torch used in the 1984 opening and closing ceremonies.
Between the double peristyle arches at the east end is the Coliseum’s “Court of Honor”—plaques recognizing many of the memorable events and participants in Coliseum history, including a full list of 1932 and 1984 Olympic gold medalists.
Designed by John and Donald Parkinson, the original bowl’s initial construction costs were $954,873. When the Coliseum opened in 1923, it was the largest stadium in Los Angeles with a capacity of 75,144. In 1930, however, with the Olympics due in two years, the stadium was extended upward to seventy-nine rows with two tiers of tunnels, expanding the seating to 101,574. You can still see the original concrete between the rows in the lower sections.
By far the best part of the tour was being able to go on top of the stadium, which provided 360 degree views of the city.
The enclosed press box above the stadium seats has incredible views but isn’t air conditioned. Feel free to open the windows though.
The Trojans locker room is rather spacious and with no obstructions in the way, fosters better communication between team members.
The visitors locker room is broken up and partitioned, which makes it more difficult to come together as a team.
Cash Shadow / Alarm Panel
The psychological mind games used against the visiting team continues on the way down to the field. Various posters tauting all of USC’s awards and accomplishments taunt all those who attempt to dethrone the Trojans.