Rams return: New life for USC's Coliseum?

If USC plays this out right, the return of the Rams could be a boost to the program -- and the Coliseum.

One thing you have to say about a journey that took 21 years to make. You ought to get it right.

And from a USC point of view, which is all we have here, the NFL got it right. The Rams were the team to come back to LA, where there always should have been a team.

And the Coliseum is the place for them to return to -- for the next three years.

To USC's Coliseum, we might add. And that's a big deal. The timing could not have been better with USC set to embark on a $270 million renovation of the Coliseum beginning in 2018.

We're thinking that will have to change -- in both directions. Some of it will have to start sooner, some of it maybe put off. You'd think the new locker rooms would have to happen immediately for the 2016 season. And that's a good thing.

You'd also think the fundraising, along with the income from the Rams' rental fees, would allow USC to start the kinds of renovations that are little more than updating seats and widening aisles and those sorts of cosmetic things to begin to happen piecemeal over the next couple of off-seasons.

Maybe there will even be the ability to take another look, with the help of those more than 100 architects that have been reportedly working on Rams owner Stan Kroenke's new Inglewood stadium, to figure out some solutions to the luxury suites at the Coliseum more satisfying than what the original USC design showed.

We're thinking of a standalone building or buildings adjacent to but hanging over the Coliseum much the way Notre Dame is doing it. We think USC should take another look at it.

We also like it that there's just one team coming -- and that team is the Rams. One team, eight additional regular season games, seems just about right and will not be a strain on a facility with far better turf now thanks to USC's management than it had when there were three or four teams playing here.

This is very much doable. But there's another plus. With the Rams, and the NFL coming back to the stadium where the first Super Bowls were played, what an opportunity for USC to get a major naming sponsor deal done now.

Not many places do you get a double hit in the nations No. 2 market. That has to happen now.

And sure, this is tough for St. Louis. But let's face it, when your town has lost the last two teams -- the Cardinals to Arizona first and now the Rams, it's hard to feel sorry for you. St. Louis is a baseball town first, a soccer town second, a hockey town third. Not a football town. Not an NBA town, either. The Hawks, as great as they were in the early NBA days, couldn't make it there.

And if this deal forces the Raiders, with the NFL's $100 million to go across the Bay as the second team in Levi's Stadium, much the way the Giants and the Jets share one in the New York/New Jersey market, great.

And if this deal forces the Spanos family and the San Diego politicians to actually sit down with one another and honestly do a deal of some sort thanks to the NFL's $100 million, so much the better. LA really doesn't need them. One team works fine here.

USC and UCLA can provide all the rest of the big-time football this town needs.

But now for the ways USC can make this work for the Trojans program.

To have the best stadium in the world, a building that could end up costing as much as $3 billion down the road from USC, cannot be anything but a good deal. It has to push to the limits USC's re-do of the Coliseum. Maybe start over with the plans that were unveiled in October.

Then there's this. How fast does the NCAA jump in here for a brand new 70,000-seat building, expandable to 100,000 for big events, to make LA with its weather and hotels and media a fixture in the Final Four rotation.

Nothing but a big plus there, much as having Staples Center and two NBA teams a mile-and-a-half down Figueroa has already proved a basketball recruiting boon with the right coach.

And how about the talk that the new LA stadium, in addition to becoming a regular Super Bowl site and home to the Pro Bowl, could also become the place The NFL Scouting Combine calls home.

For anyone who's had to walk the block from their hotel in downtown Indianapolis to Lucas Oil Stadium in the howling winds and snow of mid-February, what a deal that would be.

And for football players at USC, even a better deal. The plus for recruiting there would be incalculable.

So as much as we think the return of the NFL offers USC some serious challenges, it's not unlike next season's opener against Alabama.

It's one hell of an opportunity -- if the Trojans get it right,

You can follow me on Twitter at @dweber3440 or email me at weber@uscfootball.com.


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