For almost a century, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum has served generations of Angelenos, from countless football and soccer games to concerts and public appearances by US presidents and international dignitaries, such as Martin Luther King, Jr., the Dalai Lama, and Nelson Mandela. Since its opening in 1923, the stadium has welcomed more than 118 million visitors and hosted more than 4,500 events. As the only venue to hold two Summer Olympics, and soon a third in 2028, the stadium carries an iconic legacy that must be considered when outfitting it for the future.
Arup worked closely with the University of Southern California (USC) and DLR Group to modernize the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and provide exceptional fan experiences through upgraded amenities and improved services. The Arup design team provided high-speed WiFi coverage and premium seating while maintaining the stadium’s historic façade and character. Arup provided services on a new Scholarship Club Tower, including mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP), audio-visual (AV), information technology and communications (IT&C), and acoustics services. Arup also provided IT&C and AV services for the whole stadium.
231,340 ft²new Scholarship Tower
Providing better coverage and connectivity
While WiFi and cellular coverage are key components of sporting venues, college stadiums typically do not feature reliable service. Arup’s project team aimed to provide an exceptional wireless and cellular experience for patrons but encountered several challenges that spurred innovative solutions.
The slope and incline of the stadium’s bowl did not provide adequate isolation, causing frequent interference. The bottom portion of the bowl is also situated on a concrete pad, which required strategic sawcutting to accommodate WiFi and DAS cables. However, using simulations and Radio Frequency (RF) models, Arup was able to work with the contractor to model the exact slope of the bowl and determine specific locations of end devices to avoid rework. Arup used the RF modelling software iBwave to leverage the tower’s 3D Revit model and produce heatmaps of WiFi coverage. Within the RF model, Arup was able to simulate variations between mounting styles of access points and the effects of human attenuation, as well as model various materials. The information informed coverage options, including a bowl-wide under-seat WiFi coverage method, which USC ultimately chose.
Another challenge was related to wireless access points, which are normally situated on a stadium’s exterior. However, due to the Coliseum’s landmark status, the exterior could not be disrupted. Arup sought out less conspicuous locations for the access points and placed them around lights and concessions to provide wireless coverage without having to secure approvals to mount objects on the façade.
This project speaks to Arup’s DNA because we enjoy taking on complex projects with an intent to find creative solutions. While the stadium’s landmark status posed unique restrictions and challenges, working with our partners, we are proud to bring the stadium to the 21st century and honour its legacy. ”Elizabeth Valmont Associate Principal and Project Manager
A new tower
The LA Memorial Coliseum’s new seven-story Scholarship Club Tower will provide patrons with an improved experience, including 360-degree views of Los Angeles, new suites, a press box, exceptional food and beverage amenities, and premium seating.
The project team encountered several challenges when detailing the tower’s MEP system. As the tower needed to be seven stories but also constructed inside the existing façade of the stadium, the structure had to have short floor-to-floor heights, reducing the space available for MEP equipment. In addition, to provide patrons with optimal views, the building was designed so that the floors do not stack vertically. This created another hurdle as the edge of one floor could land in the middle of the floor above it, making it difficult to route services. To compound these obstacles further, the design of the new tower proposed a significant number of full-service kitchens and food and beverage concessions, creating a need for more ventilation ducts and piping to fit into the tight ceiling spaces.
To ensure the multidisciplinary teams collaborated efficiently, Arup heavily coordinated with the contractor and the rest of the design team by using the Revit model and exporting the services to 3D model review software Navisworks every week. The software can separate and combine services, as well as identify potential interferences, which enabled the team to understand the systems holistically. This collaborative approach enabled Arup and the design and construction team to create a revenue-generating, services-intensive system that will provide premium amenities for fans.
Preparing the stadium for the future
The wireless and cellular infrastructure is built for current technology but is scalable when new technology becomes available. Due to the rapid development of technology and its shortening life cycle, it is important to provide flexibility for future upgrades.
In addition to design services, Arup provided IT consulting services as well, enabling USC to unite a previously siloed network and operate different systems from one converged network. The upgrades also provide patrons with a state-of-the-art AV experience through new displays and speakers for the stadium, as well as new scoreboards, game clocks, timers, and ribbon boards. Undergirding all of the technology improvement was a significant electrical system upgrade to improve reliability and capacity.
Additionally, as the stadium will be used for a variety of sporting and cultural events, there was a high intensity of broadcast services necessary to make the LA Memorial Coliseum operational during large events. Arup provided AV services for an expansion of digital signage and the creation of a sophisticated modern press box inside the Scholarship Club Tower, including its control room, production, and broadcast facilities. The modern press box will meet the video capture needs of different types of networks that will handle broadcasting for a variety of events.
Investing for the future
The LA Memorial Coliseum’s investment in connectivity allows the stadium to provide fans with customized opportunities and event engagement. The new tower also provides a premium experience that guarantees higher income for the owner. This paves the way for a sustainable financial model that will help the stadium remain as a center of sporting and entertainment excellence for years, decades, and even another century to come.