United Airlines Offers to Withdraw from $69M Deal to Change LA Coliseum's Name

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMarch 29, 2019

FILE - This Jan. 13, 2016 file photo shows the peristyle of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles. The University of Southern California's sale of naming rights for Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is being criticized as dishonoring the historic stadium's dedication as a memorial to soldiers who fought and died in World War I. USC announced last year that the stadium will be renamed United Airlines Memorial Coliseum as part of a $270 million renovation of the facility, which opened in 1923. (AP Photo/Nick Ut, File)
Nick Ut/Associated Press

United Airlines has reportedly offered to step away from a $69 million agreement to rename the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum into the United Airlines Memorial Coliseum "following criticism that adding a corporate name is disrespectful to the facility's history of honoring troops who fought and died in World War I," according to John Antczak of the Associated Press. 

"If USC is not in a position to honor the terms of the agreement, including in particular the name change, United would be amenable to abiding by the wishes of the community, stepping away from this partnership with USC, and mutually terminating the agreement," the airline's president, Janet Lamkin, reportedly wrote in a letter USC official Todd Dickey.

USC holds the naming rights for the stadium.

The Coliseum was built in 1921 and, as Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn wrote in an opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times this week, "the civic visionaries who fought for the structure, including the Chandler family which then owned the Los Angeles Times, dedicated the stadium to the doughboys from Los Angeles who marched off to the fields of Europe in 1917 and 1918—many of whom never came home from the 'war to end all wars.'"

Libby Denkmann @libdenk

A ton of history in these walls. It’s a memorial to WWI servicemembers, and there are many nods to the famous speakers and athletes who have taken the field here. https://t.co/04XrVPtfe5

Hahn's suggestion for a compromise between all parties involved was to give United Airlines the naming rights of the field, not the stadium itself, by calling it the "United Airlines Field at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum."

She isn't alone in her protestations:

Libby Denkmann @libdenk

“I do love USC. My nephew plays football for USC. But I’m looking for you to make a committed change to keep the name: the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.” - Marine Corps vet Lamont Duncan, VFW California. https://t.co/Ilzfwbemgl

Libby Denkmann @libdenk

“I’m trying to imagine a proposal to sell off the naming rights to the Vietnam Veterans memorial wall in Washington, D.C....I urge you to reconsider.” — Steve Peck, CEO of U.S.VETS

The stadium is the long-time home of USC football and the temporary home of the Los Angeles Rams, and it has hosted Olympics and has been the host of various other teams in its history. It is a long-time staple of the city of Los Angeles, and its potential renaming has understandably been a divisive topic among citizens of the area.