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STADIUM 101

The ghosts of Los Angeles.

 

With all due respect to Yankee Stadium, Notre Dame Stadium or Boston Garden, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum has seen more momentous sporting events (and other historical moments) than any other venue.

 

Built in 1923, it has been the home of Southern California football ever since. The 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games were held there. UCLA played there from the school's inception until the move to the Rose Bowl in 1982.

 

Los Angeles Dodger owner Walter O'Malley toured the city looking for a place to play until Dodger Stadium was built. Wrigley Field on Avalon Boulevard, home of the minor league Los Angeles Angels, was the perfect location, he was told. The place held 15,000. O'Malley asked about the Coliseum.

 

"It holds 100,000, but it's built for football, not baseball," he was told.

 

The Dodgers played there anyway, from 1958-61, winning the World Series in '59, setting World Series and All-Star Game attendance records in the process.

 

The USC-UCLA track meet and the Shrine High School All-Star Football Game used to draw almost 100,000 people. The Pro Bowl was played there every year, and numerous LA City and CIF-Southern Section championship games have been played on its turf.

 

106,000 showed up to see a USC-Notre Dame game there in the 1950s. It has been the site of countless Trojan-Irish and Trojan-Bruin wars.  Crowds in excess of 100,000 saw numerous Los Angeles Rams games at the Coliseum, which re-configured its seating in the 1970s, reducing the capacity to 92,000. The Coliseum is part of the Ram-49er rivalry. The Raiders played there from 1982-94, winning the 1983 World Championship

 

The first Super Bowl was played at the Coliseum (1967), and in 1973 Miami completed pro football's only unbeaten season with a 14-7 Super Bowl win at the Coliseum, over Washington.

 

Capacity crowds have jammed the Coliseum to see soccer matches. The Who, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band--these are some of the rock bands to pack the old stadium.

 

Steve Young of the Los Angeles Express starred at the Coliseum when he played in the USFL, and this fall, LA's XFL franchise will play there. It was not uncommon for a prep game to be played there on a Friday night, a USC or UCLA game on Saturday, and a Ram game on Sunday. Many football stars like former Whittier/USC/Raider wide receiver Bob Chandler played on its turf at the high school, collegiate and professional levels.

 

In 1945, conquering World War II hero General George S. Patton of San Marino made a memorable speech to a capacity Coliseum crowd in which he said that he "had seen hell" in Europe.

 

In 1959, Dodger catcher Roy Campanella, paralyzed the previous winter in a car accident, received a stirring candle light vigil from 90,000 Coliseum baseball fans.

 

The neighboring LA Sports Arena was built in time for the 1960 Democratic National Convention, where John F. Kennedy accepted his parties' nomination.

 

Today, she is old and dilapidated. In order for pro football to survive in Los Angeles, it is said that she must be replaced by a state-of-the-art facility, but there is no denying the thrill one still experiences when walking through her long, dark tunnel and first seeing the crowd, the band, the green expanse of playing field.

 

To fans with a nostalgic bent or sense for history, the Coliseum still holds a special place in our hearts. USC fans still love the place, and many Southern Californians recall with fondness attending Rams' games with their fathers on sunny Sunday afternoons.

 

She is filled with ghostly memories of glory days or yesteryear.

 

 

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