Los Angeles 1984
Exposition Park, which houses the Memorial Coliseum and which had served as the centre of the Games in 1932, was again selected as the central site for the 1984 Games. The stadium was rented out by the Los Angeles Coliseum Commission to the Organising Committee.
The Organising Committee consulted the Coliseum Commission to determine what changes needed to be made in the stadium and behind the scenes in order to best meet the requirements for staging Olympic competitions in 1984. It was decided that a new football pitch would be created, a state-of-the-art drainage system would be added, and a new athletics track, inspired by the one used at the stadium in Munich for the 1972 Summer Games, would be installed. The synthetic polyurethane track contained eight lanes. It was mounted on a 13cm gravel base and covered with an 8cm layer of asphalt. The radius of the track curves was increased to 36.5 metres to limit the effects of centrifugal force and to do away with any unfair advantage for the athletes allocated one of the inside lanes.
A drainage system was installed to collect runoff water from the stadium seating areas and direct it into the pumping station in the south-west tunnel. The conduit telephone and television system was redesigned to meet the latest technology needs. An air-conditioning system was installed in the athletes’ changing rooms in 1983 and lighting capacity was enhanced.
Two electronic scoreboards were installed on either side of the peristyle so that the spectators could constantly follow all the action in the stadium. The left-hand scoreboard measured 9x14.6 metres and offered in-depth coverage of the ongoing events, as well as the full set of results. The right-hand scoreboard, measuring 11x14.6 metres, showed colour replays of the key moments in the competitions. A third scoreboard was temporarily placed at the other end of the stadium.
The external architecture remained similar to that used for the Games in 1932. The outside square leading to the peristyle was renovated, and benches, plants and a statue – Olympic Gateway, designed by artist Robert Graham and commissioned by the Organising Committee to mark this new edition of the Olympic Games – were added.
The Coliseum is important because it represents History. When you have a stadium like this, it brings back memories. It’s like a song, an old song that comes on and it takes up to that moment […].Carl Lewis American track & field athlete and winner of nine Olympic gold medals, four of which were at the Olympic Games Los Angeles 1984.
AFTER THE GAMES
In 1984, the State of California and the US Government declared the Coliseum a National Historic Landmark owing to its contribution to the history of the state and country.
After the Games, the Coliseum continued to serve as the home ground of the USC Trojans, the American football university team. Before the start of the American football season in 1993, USD 15 million was invested to renovate the stadium: the field was lowered, the athletics track was removed and 14 rows of seating (around 8,000 individual seats) were added in the lower part of the stadium to bring the spectators closer to the field of play.
In 1994, the stadium was left damaged following an earthquake. An additional USD 96 million was invested in repairs and improvement work.
Further renovation work began in 2018. The upgrades included replacing and widening seats, installing handrails in some of the busier zones, restoring the peristyle, and adding lighting and entry concourses. The process of widening some of the seats and providing more room for spectators is set to have an impact on the stadium capacity, which will be reduced to 77,550.
Notable events to have taken place in the stadium since the end of the Games have included a papal Mass given by John Paul II in 1987, Nelson Mandela’s return to the USA in 1990 and numerous concerts.
DID YOU KNOW?
- In 2028, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum will have hosted the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and the athletics events at three editions of the Olympic Games.
- Over one million spectators went to the stadium during the Games to watch the athletics events, and nearly 160,000 attended the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.
‒ Alfonso Cano Pintos, El estadio Olímpico. Sus fundamentos arquitectónicos, dir. Juan Miguel Hernández de León, Departamento de Proyectos Arquitectónicos, Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Madrid, 2016, p. A-43.
‒ “Coliseum History”, website of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
‒ “Coliseum Renovation”, website of the USC Trojan American football team.
‒ “Legendary LA Venues: Carl Lewis at the Coliseum”, YouTube channel of LA2028, video published on 11 April 2017.
‒ “Los Angeles 1932: California welcomes the world”, news, website of the International Olympic Committee, 13 September 2017.
‒ Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games, 1959, n. p.
‒ “New Coliseum Track Completed”, Olympic Update, June 1983, p. 2.
‒ Official Report of the Games of the XXIIIrd Olympiad Los Angeles 1984, Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee, 1985, vol. 1, pp. 30, 68, 72-73, 863.
‒ Olympic Countdown: 200 Days to go, Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee, 1984, p. 127.
‒ “Spotlight on the Coliseum”, Stars in Motion: One year to go, no. 4, Summer 1983, pp. 61-62.
‒ “USC stadium to be renamed United Airlines Memorial Coliseum”, ESPN, 30 January 2018.
‒ “USC Trojans - Facilities”, website of the USC Trojans American football team.
LOS ANGELES MEMORIAL COLISEUM
|Name:||Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, United Airlines Memorial Coliseum (from 2019)|
|Location:||3911 S Figueroa St, Los Angeles, United States of America|
|Status:||Existing venue, modifications made for the Games. In use today.|
|Designers:||John and Donald Parkinson (architects, original construction)
Edwards, Wildey & Dixon Co. (contractors, original construction)
Bennett & Bennett (architects, renovation work for 1984)
|Cost:||Construction of the original stadium in 1923: ~800,000 US dollars
Stadium capacity increase in 1931: ~900,000 US dollars
Renovation work for 1984: 5 million US dollars
|Dimensions:||~324m long and ~235m wide|
|Construction:||21 December 1921 to 1 May 1923
Start of renovation work for the 1984 Summer Games: 17 April 1982
|Official opening:||Opened in June 1923 (Some sources also give May as the month of the inauguration.)|
|Events during the Games:||Athletics (including the start and finish of the marathons and the 20km and 50km race walks).
Opening and Closing Ceremonies.