LOS ANGELES -- Back in 1959, my sports-minded dad and uncle took me to my first major league baseball game, an exhibition contest featuring the New York Yankees who had come west to celebrate Roy Campanella Night, an emotional tribute to the Dodgers' paralyzed all-star catcher.
The heartbreaking "Campy" night was played in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum or simply known in these parts as The Coliseum. They turned off all the lights and fans lit a match or ignited their cigarette lighters to provide a moving tribute of light.
In 1962, my Dad took me to my first college football game, a fall afternoon affair, featuring the visiting Duke Blue Devils and the USC Trojans, which was played in the Coliseum. Oh, how the Grand Old Lady looked so different as a football field than as a baseball diamond. And for the record, the Trojans defeated Duke 14-7 in the first game of what was to be coach John McKay's first national championship season.
I was in attendance in 1974 when the Trojans came from 24 points behind to devastate legendary Irish head coach Ara Parseghian and his mighty Notre Dame team in "The Comeback" game, which eventually saw the Men of Troy score 55 points in under 17 minutes and an eventual 55-24 victory -- in the Coliseum.
As for the present, after being the only facility in the world to play host to two Olympiads (X and XXIII), two Super Bowls (I and VII) and one World Series (1959) -- not to mention prestigious soccer matches, energizing political rallies, and legendary rock groups -- The Coliseum, as most Angelinos call it, might found herself looking at a new identity, or more specifically a new moniker.
Say it ain't so, Joe.
Not this world-famous facility that opened its turnstiles in 1923 and is patterned after the Colosseum in Rome.
As you are probably are already aware, Fox Sports Properties has signed a deal with USC, which now manages the Coliseum. Near the top of Fox's to-do list with USC is to help secure a financial naming sponsor for one of the country's most recognizable venues -- The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Naming rights, of course, are a way of raising money -- sometimes big money -- and in this case it's expected to help raise currency for Coliseum renovations, which in turn is expected to give USC football fans a new top-shelf game experience that would include replacement of those aged and broken Coliseum seats in exchange for those fancy, new stadium seats.
Whenever naming rights are attached to anything, it's sometimes a tricky proposition. When naming rights for the Rose Bowl Game were proposed, the actual wording became a major challenge for the Tournament of Roses.
The Tournament of Roses' solution was to simply refer to this new television revenue maker as The Rose Bowl presented by (fill in the blank). It was not a perfect solution, but it got the job done and kept the integrity and tradition of the game alive.
There is no question the Trojans will take great care in making an informed and critical decision as it pertains to the Coliseum naming rights. The last thing USC president Max Nikias and athletic director Pat Haden want is to turn this expedition into some future national punch line on "The Tonight Show" with Jimmy Fallon.
Then again, maybe this naming business is being blown out of proportion, or as Williams Shakespeare once penned in his star-crossed classic "Romeo and Juliet:" A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
So, will the Coliseum also smell as sweet with a name revision?
Who knows, but for me, it will always be the plain old Coliseum, and I am just fine with that.