USC has a deal in place with United Airlines for Coliseum naming rights
For the first time in 94 years, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum will be known as something else.
USC has a deal in place to sell the stadium’s naming rights to United Airlines.
The name of the stadium has not been revealed, though Coliseum Commission President Mark-Ridley Thomas said he reviewed the agreement and said it is “gratifying to know that this historic landmark will always retain ‘Memorial Coliseum’ as a part of its name.”
The news was first reported by Sports Business Daily, which said United would pay $70 million over 15 years. That would make it the most lucrative naming-rights deal in college football.
“It just shows that the Coliseum is and has been one of the most valuable stadium venues in America,” said Jerome Stanley, a former member of the Coliseum Commission.
Stanley said the stadium’s proximity to the entertainment industry, downtown Los Angeles and USC make it uniquely attractive in college sports.
“No other major football power has a relationship like that,” Stanley said.
A USC spokesman confirmed only that “USC has been pursuing a naming rights arrangement with various entities. At this time, no naming rights deal has been finalized.”
The naming deal could rankle some traditionalists. United recently took a public-relations hit, after a video emerged showing a passenger being forcefully dragged off a United flight.
A spokesman for United did not respond to a request for comment.
The school has long said it was committed to keeping the stadium’s name mostly intact. When the school struck a deal with Fox Sports in 2015 to sell the naming rights, USC said it would retain the right to veto any proposal.
Coliseum officials said then that keeping the words “Memorial Coliseum” in the name was a priority.
The deal will provide an injection of cash for a renovation project scheduled to be competed by the 2019 season. Earlier this month, school officials said they had secured $225 million in cash and pledges for the $270-million project.
Under the school’s 98-year lease of the stadium, it must pay the state 5% of the naming rights receipts.
Also earlier this month, the school unveiled its reseating plan, which would require some season-ticket holders to move and some to pay a mandatory donation — a tax-deductible payment required to retain seats.
Follow Zach Helfand on Twitter @zhelfand
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