Coliseum History

The Coliseum opened its doors to Los Angeles in June of 1923. Some 5 months later, on October 6,1923, the first football game was played in the stadium, with the University of Southern California hosting Pomona College before a crowd of 12,836, with the Trojans prevailing, 23-7. It was a modest beginning for a venue that would later play a very prominent role in college and professional football.


USC vs. Pomona College at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, 1923

The Coliseum has served as the home field for the University of Southern California Trojans since 1923. Additionally, countless historic events have taken place inside these venerable walls during nine decades of celebrated history. It is the only facility in the world to play host to two Olympiads (X and XXIII), two Super Bowls (I and VII) and one World Series (1959).

Along with the adjacent Sports Arena, the Coliseum is credited with helping to start the migration of professional sports teams to the West Coast. The complex provided a home for the Rams (from Cleveland, 1946-79 NFL), the Dodgers (from Brooklyn, 1958-61, MLB), and the Lakers (from Minneapolis, 1960-67, NBA), and has also been home to a variety of Southern California teams as well the Raiders (from Oakland, 1982-94, NFL), UCLA Football (1933-81) and was the expansion home of the Chargers (1960, NFL) the Clippers (from San Diego, 1984-99, NBA), USC Basketball (1959-2006, NCAA), UCLA Basketball (1959-65, NCAA), the Cobras (1988, Arena Football), the Ice Dogs (1995-96, IHL), the Sharks (1972-74, WHA), the Stars (1968-70, ABA) and Kings (1967, NHL).

In 1984, the State of California and the United States Government declared the Coliseum a State and Federal Historical Landmark for its contribution to the history of California, as well as to that of the United States as a whole.

On March 29, 2008, the Los Angeles Dodgers hosted an exhibition game against the Boston Red Sox in front of a crowd of 115,300, setting a Guiness World Record for largest attendance ever at a baseball game. Other historic events include Billy Graham’s appearance in 1963 in front of 134,254 (still an all-time Coliseum record), Nelson Mandela’s triumphant return to the United States, the first ever Papal Mass by Pope John Paul II in 1987 and the 1976 Bicentennial Spectacular,

The Los Angeles Billy Graham Crusade, 1963

The Coliseum has also hosted decades of memorable concerts, including the most recent show featuring Roger Waters performing ‘The Wall’ in its entirety (May 19, 2012) as well as LA Rising (June of 2011), the Summer Sanitarium Tour (headlined by Metallica – August 2003) as well as a record five sold out nights of Bruce Springsteen in 1985 (total attendance, 322,986) four sold out nights for the Rolling Stones, U2, Metallica, The Who, Pink Floyd, Kid Rock and more.

A new mark for the highest paid attendance (63,101) for a Latin music concert in the United States was set on March 18, 2006, as RBD took the Coliseum stage.

Known also for its place in International Soccer Competition, the Coliseum has been the site of many memorable matches. The all-time Coliseum (as well as National) attendance record for a soccer match was set on August 6, 2006, as 92,650 fans turned out to see a double-header featuring Chivas vs. Barcelona and Chivas USA vs. the New England Revolution. The crowd eclipsed the previous mark of 91,585, set in 1999 as Mexico took on Argentina.

Recent Improvements

Prior to the 2011 USC Football Season, a new, state of the art videoboard was added to the west side of the Coliseum. Manufactured by Daktronics and featuring outstanding 15mm resolution and measuring an imposing 150 feet wide by 40 feet high, the board ranks as the second largest in all of college football.

In the months leading up to the 2008 USC Football Season, the Coliseum also underwent a series of several substantial renovations. A new, state of the art, full color LED videoboard was installed in place of the existing display. Manufactured by Optec and featuring outstanding 16mm resolution, the new video board can display in High Definition, and offers vastly improved clarity and brightness, offering a clear, realistic picture even when in direct sunlight. At the west end of the Coliseum, another LED videoboard, measuring 45′ x 5′, has replaced the previous scoreboard structure, allowing for larger graphics, and the ability to carry a video feed.

A brand new sound system was also installed at the same time. For this, the Coliseum enlisted Meyer Sound, of Northern California, the company entrusted with providing sound equipment for the Opening Ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics, to create a new system from scratch. The results mark the first permanent installation of Meyer’s state of the art SB-3 Technology. Originally developed for the military, the SB-3 system was created for use on aircraft carriers, where weather variables necessitate the efficient and highly targeted delivery of audio signals.

Additionally, new seating sections were added at the north and southeast corners of the facility, bringing the total capacity to 93,607 for football games.

The Coliseum Memorial Court of Honor

The Court of Honor, located at the Peristyle end of the Coliseum and comprised of 54 commemorative plaques at present, got a thorough refurbishment as well. Chronicling outstanding persons or events, athletic or otherwise, that have had a definite impact upon the history, glory and growth of the Coliseum, the plaques were restored to their former glory.

To see a complete list of all those individuals and events commemorated, click here