100 Years of the Los Angeles Coliseum
By: Ray Zhao
After hosting the 1932 and 1984 summer Olympics, among a plethora of other events, the Los Angeles Coliseum’s 100 years of existence have been marked by fame, cultural significance, and shortcomings.
The Coliseum has been an iconic part of Los Angeles for a century now. The structure has hosted a wide variety of events from football to baseball, soccer, a Motocross Superbowl, and even a visit from the Pope.
The Coliseum is also much more than a sports venue. John F. Kennedy’s memorable acceptance speech at the 1960 Democratic National Convention, during which he coined the famous term “the new frontier,” was given there. NASCAR also held several events at the Coliseum to kick off its season last winter.
The Coliseum, of course, has seen some incidents that are noteworthy. In 1936, the Coliseum hosted figure-skating champion Sonja Henie for a performance. However, the event was canceled due to warm weather that absolutely obliterated the ice.
Weather also caused dangerous conditions at a ski jumping competition in 1938. After the completion of a snow-covered ramp for ski jumping almost 300 feet tall, rain thwarted the organizers’ plans. Luckily, the storms moved out of the area early enough for the Ruud brothers from Norway to clinch 1st and 2nd place.
The multitude of events that take place at the Coliseum causes chaos whenever the stadium’s purpose is changed. After concerts or even NASCAR events, the turf is “pretty much toast underneath,” says the groundskeeper, Scott Lupold. Reestablishing a good field of grass is no easy feat, so Lupold has to contact sod farms in northern California to make sure they have sod for him in case of the need for a quick turnaround.
Lupold says that the Coliseum has been a great success over the years. Many events have led to huge turnout and even sports records. And for Lupold, everything has been going on pretty smoothly. “Knock on wood, we’ve been pretty good at pulling [quick turnarounds] off.”