LA Coliseum – The Third Oldest MLB Ballpark Still Standing

January 7th, 2014
by Byron Bennett

The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is located at 3911 South Figueroa Street in Los Angeles, California.

"Olympic Coliseum, Exposition Park, Los Angeles, California" (Postcard Western Publishing and Novelty Co.)

Erected as a memorial to World War I Veterans, the Coliseum opened in 1923, the same year as the original Yankee Stadium. The Coliseum hosted both the 1932 and 1984 Olympics.

Entrance to Los Angeles Coliseum from Exposition Park, Circa 2001

From 1958 until 1961, it was the home of the National League Los Angeles Dodgers.

Aerial view over Exposition Park, Coliseum, Sports Arena (USC Libraries' "Dick" Whittington Photography Collection, 1924-1987)

Primarily used as a football stadium, from 1951 to 1972, and 1979, the Coliseum hosted the NFL’s Pro Bowl. In 1967 it hosted the first Super Bowl, between the National Football League Green Bay Packers and the American Football League Kansas City Chiefs. The Coliseum also hosted the National Football League Los Angeles Rams from 1946 to 1979, the American Football League Los Angeles Chargers in 1960, and the National Football League Los Angeles Raiders from 1982 to 1994.

Los Angeles Coliseum Olympic Stadium (Postcard Tichnor Art Company)

Since 1923 it has been the home of the University of Southern California Trojans football team.

Gate 4 LA Coliseum, Near Parking Lot 4, Circa 2001

The Coliseum also is notable for hosting John F. Kennedy’s Acceptance Speech as part of the Democratic National Convention in 1960.

Gate 1 Entrance, Near South Hoover Street, LA Coliseum, Circa 2001

When the Dodgers moved from Ebbets Field in Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1958, the Coliseum was meant to provide only a temporary home while the team constructed a new stadium.

1959 World Series Game 4 (By ievenlostmycat, San Diego CA (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0) via Wikimedia Commons)

Because the Coliseum was never meant for baseball, the dimensions of the field were quite skewed. The left field corner was a mere 251 feet from home plate and right field a mere 300 feet. A 40 foot screen was erected in left field in an attempt to combat the extremely friendly confines of the left field porch. Additional fencing was added in center field to cut back to 440 feet what would have been a 700 foot center field.

View of Seating Bowl From Entrance to LA Coliseum, Exposition Park, Circa 2001

The Coliseum hosted the Major League Baseball All Star Game in 1958 and the World Series in 1959. A plaque honoring the 1959 Fall Classic is posted at the main entrance to the Coliseum near Exposition Park. The Coliseum is the third oldest ballpark still standing. The other two are Fenway Park and Wrigley Field.

LA Coliseum Plaque Honoring 1959 World Series, Located At Entrance Near Exposition Park, Circa 2001

In 1962, the Dodgers moved seven miles northeast of the Coliseum to their new home in Chavez Ravine.

Entrance to Dodger Stadium, 1000 Elysian Park Avenue, Los Angeles, California

In 2008, professional baseball returned to the Coliseum to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Dodgers arrival in Los Angeles.

Exterior of LA Coliseum from South Hoover Street, Gate 4, Circa 2001

The Coliseum was reconfigured once again for baseball and an exhibition game between the Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox brought a record crowd of 115,300 fans to the ballpark.

Arched Entrance Way, LA Coliseum, From Exposition Park, Circa 2001

The Coliseum is one of only nine former major league baseball stadiums still in existence (Sun Life Stadium, Qualcomm Stadium, RFK Stadium, the Metrodome, Candlestick Park, Jarry Park (although converted to a tennis stadium), Olympic Stadium, and the the Astrodome are the remaining eight). With three of the those stadiums slated for demolition in 2014 (the Metrodome, Candlestick, and the Astrodome), the Coliseum will be one of only six.

Detail of Arched Entrance Way, LA Coliseum, From Exposition Park, Circa 2001

In September 2013, the City of Los Angeles agreed to a lease with USC granting the University control over the Coliseum for 98 years. USC has announced that it plans to renovate the historic structure.

Robert Graham's Life Sized Bronze Statues Installed Near Olympic Gateway in 1984

The University has hired the DLR Group of Omaha, Nebraska, to conduct a feasibility study for upgrades to and renovation of the 91 year old historic structure.

Ticket Booths, LA Coliseum, Gate 4, Circa 2001

With USC’s pledge to spend $100 million to renovate the stadium, the old ballpark’s future looks bright, for it appears the Coliseum is not in danger of becoming another lost ballpark.

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Posted in California ballparks, Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum | Comments (2)

2 Responses to “LA Coliseum – The Third Oldest MLB Ballpark Still Standing”

  1. Joe Makowiec Says:

    In addition to the still-existing former stadiums you list, you can add Olympic Stadium and Jarry Park in Montréal. Jarry has been repurposed as a tennis venue and Olympic as a white elephant.

  2. Byron Bennett Says:

    Hello Joe

    Good point. Not sure how I missed that. It must have been a late night post. Thanks for taking the time to contact me. I’ve already made the correction and added links to each of the ballparks from my blog. DBS

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