United Airlines, a company that is most known for beating up a paying customer and dragging him off a plane, is doubling down on gratuitous violence.
Sports Business Daily is reporting that United is going to pay $70 million over 15 years for the rights to name the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. FOX and USC have been trying to sell the rights since 2015, and they finally a found a company desperate for some brand rehabilitation. It certainly didn't hurt that United's CEO, wordsmith Oscar Munoz, is a USC grad. It's unclear exactly what the stadium will be called, but the name will at least retain the words "Memorial Coliseum" in the name.
It was just announced earlier today that due to weather-related delays in construction, the Los Angeles Rams will now play in the Coliseum through the 2019 season, while they wait for their new stadium in Inglewood to open in 2020. So two great, winning brands will be joining forces now. And the San Diego Chargers, too, I suppose.
The timing is strange for USC, which is in the process of a controversial renovation of the nearly 100-year-old coliseum. Capacity is expected to be reduced from 94,000 to 77,500, gutting midfield seating in favor of luxury boxes and concourses. To make room for the new suites and opportunities to buy more concessions, season ticket holders will be "re-accomodated" elsewhere in the stadium. In announcing the renovation, athletic director Lynn Swann acknowledged that the process will be painful and unpleasant for fans who have been in the same seats for years, and made friends with their neighbors, but added "unfortunately, the change will come."
Hopefully the process is smoother than United's version.