By: Claire Lingley
The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is no longer! Instead, say hello to the United Airlines Memorial Coliseum, coming in August 2019. In late January, the University of Southern California announced the exciting and unprecedented deal: United Airlines purchased the Naming Rights to the Coliseum for $69 million over 16 years.
This deal is important for two reasons. Firstly, the LA Memorial Coliseum is one of the sports world’s most beloved historic landmarks. Built in 1921, it was originally commissioned as a memorial to WWI Veterans, and in 1923, the USC Trojans played, and won, their first game against Pomona College. It is an iconoclast structure, and LA embraces it as a part of its history and culture. When it comes to naming rights, a structure with such history and such rich cultural relevance can be a challenge. Not only does USC have to ensure that this deal is right for their community, but it has the opinion of the entire city of LA, as well as arguably the entire sports world, to contend with. Let’s be honest, some people simply don’t like change, and this is a big one.
Secondly, this is a big deal. And I mean big as in, largest in college sports history. At $69 million, this naming rights deal supports the stadium’s $270 million upgrade that is due to happen ahead of the 2028 Summer Olympics, hosted by LA. That money will go a long way for these renovations, and USC is adamant that the changes will continue to honour the Coliseum’s original architectural integrity, (while also providing the customer with the most elevated experience possible). Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, a member of the Coliseum Commission, says, "Through this restoration project, USC continues to demonstrate its responsible stewardship of the stadium. With support from United Airlines, USC is ushering in a modern era for this historic landmark and preserving its legacy for generations to come”.
This may be the first deal of this magnitude within the collegiate sports world, but it is certainly not the last. Here at BWA we want to know what you think.
· What’s the best way for United Airlines to activate on this partnership and enhance their customer experience?
· Do customers just need to learn to accept change, and stop with the complaining? Or should properties respect the history that comes with them?
· How can properties and companies, like USC and United Airlines in this case, work together in order to persuade the public that this partnership is beneficial for the students, the alumni, and the community as a whole?
· Does this affect your opinion of United Airlines and/or USC and the Coliseum?
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