USC's Lynn Swann: Fans skeptical of Coliseum renovation may be 'fearful of change'

USC season-ticket holders unhappy with USC’s reseating plan for the Coliseum renovation may be “fearful of change,” athletic director Lynn Swann said on Thursday.

Swann reported that USC's plan, announced last week and met by uneasiness by some fans, "was really well received."

“Most importantly, people understand it,” he said in his monthly “State of Troy” blog post on USC’s athletics website. “Of course, there are a few folks fearful of change, but change is inevitable in any renovation and necessary in our situation.”

Several fans who contacted The Times said that, rather than having a general aversion to change, they were concerned about price increases and being forced to move to different seats.

The renovation plans, which will affect the 2019 season and beyond, include a tower with luxury boxes. Combined with wider aisles in some areas, it will shrink the stadium's capacity by about 16,000 seats, which will require many longtime ticket holders to move.

And in some cases, they’ll have to pay more. One-third of the seats in the lower bowl will require a one-time donation of between $100 and $6,000, depending on seat location. That’s in addition to annual Trojan Athletic Fund memberships that range from $200 to $50,000.

Sandi Fitch-Hutton, a season-ticket holder from Long Beach, said she has attended games since her freshman year at USC in 1974 and has donated to the football team and the Trojan Marching Band but is now worried about the cost of going to home games.

“I LOVE going to games,” she wrote in a message on Thursday. “But if they price me out? I'll watch on TV and go to away games.”

USC officials have said the mandatory donations aren’t personal seat licenses. They can be paid off over four years and are tax-deductible. Officials expect the mandatory donations to raise about $24 million. The school has raised $225 million in cash and pledges for the project with a $270-million budget.

Swann said USC “will be sure to communicate with every one of our Trojan Athletic Fund members and season-ticket holders one-on-one to address their concerns as we believe that we have a suitable option for everyone.”

Patrick Maher, a season-ticket holder who said he has missed just three home games in the 11 seasons since he graduated from USC’s Gould School of Law, is taking a wait-and-see approach. Concerned that he may be moved far from his original seats, he plans to pay the mandatory donation and sign on for 2019 before deciding what to do for 2020 and beyond.

“I think that USC is doing the best it can to put out its general plan,” he said. “But there's been little communication how it will affect anyone personally beyond everyone will be unhappy for some reason.”

zach.helfand@latimes.com

Follow Zach Helfand on Twitter @zhelfand

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