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Airline May Relinquish Naming Rights Due to Backlash

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A naming rights agreement between the University of Southern California and United Airlines is up in the air after critics said that slapping a corporate name on Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum — which honors soldiers who fought and died in World War I — would be disrespectful.

As the Orange County Register reports, the airline has offered to withdraw from the agreement, putting the $69 million deal on ice. USC announced the naming rights deal last year as part of its $270 million renovation to the facility.

The naming rights agreement would change the name from Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to United Airlines Memorial Coliseum. The airline noted in a letter to USC that it was careful to keep the words “Memorial Coliseum” in the name.

“If USC is not in a position to honor the terms of the agreement, including in particular the name change, United would be amenable to abiding by the wishes of the community, stepping away from this partnership with USC, and mutually terminating the agreement,” United Airlines California president Janet Lamkin wrote.

Los Angeles County supervisor and Coliseum Commission president Janice Hahn summed up criticism of the agreement in an LA Times editorial, writing “Unlike other modern sports venues, Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is not just a stadium — it is a war memorial. Removing ‘Los Angeles’ and replacing it with a corporate sponsor insults the memories of those the Coliseum was intended to honor.”

Hahn suggested that USC consider a “reasonable alternative, such as renaming the field the ‘United Airlines Field at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.’ “

However, it’s unclear whether that alternative will appeal to the Airline, as Lamkin’s letter spells out.

“From United’s perspective, the agreed-upon new name is the key provision of our sponsorship agreement with USC, underscoring our deep commitment to the community and its cherished institutions,” she wrote.

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