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Coliseum Will Rise Again

You don’t have to be a sports fan to feel sentimental about the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The venerable sports venue in Exposition Park has hosted more big events than any other stadium in the country--two Olympics, the first Super Bowl and a World Series top a long roster. It also reverberated to the speeches of American presidents, a pope and many other political and spiritual leaders. Few places in town more genuinely deserve the overused word historic.

So it’s encouraging to see how far along the most recent campaign to redesign and refurbish the Coliseum is, and to note that it is proceeding with admirable unanimity of purpose among the parties involved. That’s saying something, when you recall that many of the Coliseum’s past problems stemmed from the fact that it is overseen by an unwieldy commission made up of representatives of three levels of government (state, county and city) and its tenants include powerful institutions (USC) and individuals (such as Raiders football team owner Al Davis) used to getting their way.

Credit for the smooth process so far belongs to the new management team that the Coliseum Commission wisely contracted to run the facility and oversee its refurbishing. The team is headed by the stadium management company Spectacor, working in partnership with ARA Services and the Pritzker family, which owns the Hyatt Hotels.

And the new design looks good. It preserves the peristyle and exterior walls while creating room for a more modern arena inside. That’s important because the Coliseum is a publicly owned facility and unless it is made a state-of-the-art stadium soon it could become a burden on local taxpayers.

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Let’s be honest: In recent years the operative word in describing the Coliseum--even among those of us who love the place--has been old rather than historic. Making the old once again new will ensure that the Coliseum will be historic as the site of great events yet to come.


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