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  • Writer's pictureAndrei Ojeda

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum - USC Trojans


Photos by Andrei Ojeda, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum 3911 South Figueroa Street Los Angeles, CA 90037

Year Opened: 1923 Capacity: 77,500

 

Restoring The Conquest

The USC Trojan football program has a longstanding history of success, boasting 11 National Titles, 6 Heisman Trophy winners and producing countless NFL players.

The United Airlines Field at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum has hosted many memorable moments since its opening in 1923, hosting not only USC football but also their cross-town rivals UCLA, as well as the home of the NFL Rams and Raiders, the Summer Olympic Games of 1932 and 1984, two Super Bowls, and served as a temporary home to the Major League Baseball’s Dodgers from 1958-61, 1959 hosting the World Series.

A recently completed $315-million renovation to The Grand Old Lady has brought her seating capacity from over 90,000 to 77,500, along with many other much needed enhancements.

Food & Beverage 4

Beyond the traditional dogs and burgers, the options are abundant, particularly with the vast food truck selections throughout the venue, offering Mexican fare such as shrimp tacos and three colors al pastor/asada nachos. Other food offerings include Korean fried chicken, braised short rib mac n cheese, and one of my favorites, poutine, a Canadian favorite that comes with fries topped with gravy and cheese curds and your choice of braised short rib or roasted cauliflower.

Flavored Italian ice, churros, and fresh baked chocolate chip cookies available in sleeves of 14 or buckets of 36 are some of the sweet treats available.

Beverages available are Coca-Cola products, bottled water, as well as fresh squeezed lemonade. Domestic and premium beer from 805 Beer is also available until the third quarter.

Atmosphere 4

When the Men of Troy are competing for a Pac-12 title and a high echelon bowl game, the atmosphere can reach a fevered peak. When expectations are far below the standards set for the 11 time National Champions, the decline in interest can be evident.

Should you decide to start your pregame festivities on campus, you will want to make a trip to Heritage Hall. Located in the center of campus, inside you will find numerous exhibits, photos and plaques paying tribute to the many Trojan great athletes and championship teams. You will also want to check out the Hall of Champions, where you can view the 6 Heisman Trophies, as well as the statue of Tommy Trojan doing his signature pregame stabbing of the field with his sword.

The bronze statue of Tommy Trojan, that is undoubtedly recognized by both admirers and detractors, is located near the campus bookstore. Not only is the statue of Tommy Trojan a huge symbol of USC, it serves as a good meeting place for fans prior to the game. Every year during the week leading up to their annual rivalry game with UCLA, the statue is wrapped in duct tape and guarded by the Trojan Knights to protect their beloved Tommy from any potential vandalism that may be caused by their rivals from Westwood.

As fans taking part in their on-campus pregame tailgate/festivities make their way to the Coliseum, another one of their traditions is the kicking of the flagpoles for good luck. The flagpoles are at the end of Trousdale Walk and Jefferson Blvd.

The Spirit of Troy Marching Band, easily one of the most recognizable collegiate bands, is an integral part of the game day experience, as well as their mascot Traveler. Aside from their huge presence at sporting events, the Trojan Marching Band has made numerous other TV and movie appearances, as well as performing on Fleetwood Mac’s, Tusk.

The Trojan Marching Band and Traveler are believed to have a huge impact not only on the team but on the opponents as well. The sights and sounds of both the band and Traveler will be engrained in your brain from the pregame festivities through the final whistle.

Two songs you will hear constantly are “Tribute to Troy” and “Fight On.” “Conquest” is played following every USC touchdown. During “Conquest,” Traveler, a live pure white Arabian/Tennessee Walker horse, trots out of the Coliseum tunnel from end zone to end zone along the sidelines behind the Trojan wields a sword high overhead.

Another tradition involving Traveler is the lighting of the torch prior to the 4th quarter, in which the famed horse once again lets loose along the north sidelines toward the east end zone, wielding his sword toward the Coliseum torch, thus “lighting” the torch.


Neighborhood 3

The area inside the USC campus has experienced a revitalization over the last few years with mixed-use development extending inside USC Village. Across the street from the Coliseum on Figueroa is upscale student housing known as Tuscany. On the street level are such eateries as The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Quizno’s, Cold Stone Creamery, Chick-fil-A and Chipotle. Along Figueroa Street north of campus past Jefferson Blvd. are more fast food options.

On the grounds of the Coliseum is Exposition Park. If you are looking for other activities prior to the game, the California African American Museum, as well as the Natural History Museum and the California ScienCenter are located inside the park. To be able to visit all the museums and fully take in the experience, you would probably need two days. If you’re limited on time, you may want to visit the California ScienCenter, home to the Space Shuttle Endeavour.

Fans 3

USC fans have lofty expectations. They are spoiled by success. Each coach after the Pete Carroll days up to the most recently fired Clay Helton has felt the wrath of the SC Faithful.

USC fans can be a demanding bunch and are not shy in voicing their displeasure toward the team. They expect nothing short of at least a Rose Bowl appearance. When seasons such as this past 2021 fall far below expectations fans can stay away in droves as has been the case for much of this season. That’s what comes with a program that’s used to a high level of success in a city with plenty of sports and entertainment options.

The fans that continue to show up are decked in Cardinal and Gold garb and carry on the many traditions that go along with the expectations of the storied USC football program.

Access 4

The Coliseum is about three miles southwest of downtown Los Angeles and adjacent to the USC campus. The stadium can be reached from the 10 or the 110. Like all freeway thoroughfares in L.A, traffic can be a test of your patience.

There is not a single large parking lot, but rather multiple satellite lots (with 20,000 spaces) that are typically priced based on proximity to the stadium.

Should you decide to use public transit rather than drive, the MTA’s Metro Expo Line has a station conveniently located across the street from campus, a short walk away as you walk through Exposition Park. The Expo Line also offers convenient connections with other MTA rail and bus lines should you want to explore more of L.A. throughout your stay.

Once inside the stadium you will find a concourse the encircles the entire stadium. If your seats are on the upper level, expect some rather intimidating inclines. Because of the venue’s age, some of the steps are rather uneven. Don’t shy away from using the handrails. Fortunately, for those who are seated on the upper level who do not wish to navigate up the stairs, three escalators, two of them on the south concourse, one for upper general seating and one for the newly added luxury suites are on site.

As part of the enhancements, handrails, as well as anti-slip coating have been added to the aisles of the seating bowls.

Return on Investment 3

Even with the recent improvements to the Grand Old Lady, tickets for most games are always available. When seasons like this past 2021 season occur tickets can be found below face value throughout 3rd party sites. For the annual premier games against either Notre Dame or UCLA or other prime opponents such as Oregon, expect the face value to start at a minimum of $110.

In a market with a vast amount of both sports and entertainment, ticket prices to watch a team performing below expectations, at least in the eyes of the locals, can be a tough sell as even the past rivalry games against Notre Dame and UCLA have failed to sell out.

A good number of seats, particularly those on the east end of the stadium are quite a distance from the field so you may want to do some research before making your ticket purchase. Otherwise, if you are just looking to take in the action regardless of your seating location, you can expect to take in the experience of one of college football’s more storied programs.

Extras 4

Rivalry games create a great atmosphere at the Coliseum. The annual game with Notre Dame is for the Jeweled Shillelagh. The two teams combined have more national championship teams, Heisman Trophy winners, and All-Americans than any other college football matchup. Since 1926, the two have met every year.

Let’s not forget the Pac-12 crosstown rivalry game with UCLA. One of the more intense rivalries, these two teams both called the Coliseum home until 1981, when UCLA would move to The Rose Bowl in 1982. Until 1982, both schools donned their home jerseys, a tradition that has since been restored in 2008, making for one of the more colorful rivalries between Cardinal and Gold clashing against Blue and Gold. Every year, the two play for the Victory Bell, the frame painted either Red or Blue depending on who has possession.

During your visit to the stadium, be sure to walk by the arches on the “Peristyle End” and check out the “Court of Honor.” This memorial has many plaques to recognize the events or achievements that have occurred at the stadium. Notable names such as Daniel Reeves, Jesse Owens, Pope John Paul II, Jackie Robinson, John Wooden, and Jerry West all hold a place in the Court. If the Olympic rings and arches weren’t enough, check out the “Olympic Gateway” in front of the Coliseum. Created in 1984 by Robert Graham, this structure rises 25 feet above ground and has headless male and female bodies made of bronze.

Prior to the 4th quarter of each USC game, Traveler makes his way to the peristyle end of the field behind the end zone for the Lighting of The Torch, which Traveler’s rider, dressed as a Trojan warrior, will raise his sword toward the famous torch to light up the flame.


Final Thoughts

As one of the more venerable venues, the recent renovations have done nothing to take away from the Grand Old Lady’s history. The famous peristyle that has seen many an appearance throughout the years will always be a part of the Coliseum’s lore.

After recently sharing their home with the Rams for 4 seasons the Trojans have the gridiron all to themselves.

The 2021 season may have been a disappointment but their recent hire of head coach Lincoln Riley has the Trojan following excited for 2022 as they look to Restore The Conquest.




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