Since the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum first opened its doors in June of 1923, it has become a staple for historical importance in the United States.
The Coliseum has been home to various sports teams at both the professional and collegiate ranks, including USC football, UCLA football, the Los Angeles Rams, the Los Angeles Raiders and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The stadium played host to the 1932 and 84′ Summer Olympic Games. It also housed the CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament on several occasions.
The Memorial Coliseum also hosted two Super Bowls (I, VII), a World Series (1959), and was visited by three United States presidents. There have been numerous music icons that have held concerts at the venue, including Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones, U2, Metallica, The Who, Pink Floyd, Kid Rock, the Grateful Dead, and Van Halen.
The Coliseum even entered the Guinness World Record book for the largest attendance ever at a baseball game with a crowd of 115,300 for a game between the Dodgers and Boston Red Sox on March 29, 2008. There were other historic events that took place in the stadium, such as evangelist minister Billy Graham’s appearance in 1963 in front of an all-time record Coliseum crowd of 134, 254, and Nelson Mandela’s first return to the United States in 1990.
It came as no surprise in 1984, that the State of California and the United States Government announced the venue was declared a State and Federal Historical Landmark, because of its contribution to the history of the state and the country.
The stadium was originally designed by John and Donald Parkinson as a memorial to Los Angeles veterans of World War I. When the Coliseum first opened it was the largest venue in Los Angeles with a capacity of 75,144. It underwent its first renovation a few years later for to the 1932 Summer Olympics. The renovation extended seating upward to seventy-nine rows with two different tiers of tunnels that pushed the total capacity to 101,574.
The number of seats have been adjusted throughout the years. It currently holds 93,607 seats for football games, but that’s expected to drop to 77,500 after the announcement in October of 2015 of an estimated $270-million renovation that will be privately funded by the university.
The signature Olympic cauldron torch was also placed above the peristyle at the east end of the stadium in honor of the prestigious event. There were also Olympic rings symbols put under the stadium name above the main entrance. A scoreboard and video screen were added on both sides of the torch on the peristyle on the east end of the venue in 1983. A large video scoreboard was also installed above the west end of the stadium in 2011.
A structure titled Olympic Gateway was created by world-renown sculptor Robert Graham was placed in front of the main entrance for the 1984 Summer Olympic Games. It features a pair of life-sized bronze nude statues of male and female athletes that stand atop a post-and-lintel frame. The statues are modeled after former American water polo player Terry Schroeder and former Guyana long jumper Jennifer Innis.
The Coliseum, since its creation, has been one of the most important world-renown historical landmarks in the United States. It’s one of the most influential venues in the country, and it has helped shape what the city of Los Angeles has become today, due to many various events that it has held over last near century. Its’ historical reaches far beyond just the world of sports.
Source: lacoliseum.com, lamcc.lacounty.gov
Bob Garcia IV is a sports journalist from Southern California. He is also the Los Angeles Lakers beat writer for Sportsoutwest.com and About.com. He was a reporter for the award-winning newspaper, The Daily Sundial, at California State University, Northridge. You can follow him on Twitter @Bgarcia90.