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USC fans don't want win to be their last at Coliseum

December 02, 2007|Rong-Gong Lin II | Times Staff Writer

Ron Tanzman was having none of the talk that Saturday's USC-UCLA football game could be the Trojans' last stand at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum before moving across town to the Rose Bowl.

"Don't even go there," the 60-year-old said. "It's not the greatest coliseum. . . . It's old and dilapidated, but I don't care," said Tanzman, who also was a die-hard Rams and Raiders fan when the two professional football teams played at the Coliseum. "There's so much tradition and history."

For die-hard fans, coming to USC's home games is a cherished ritual, and many on Saturday were aghast at the possibility of being uprooted -- but also skeptical that USC would make good on its threat.

Frustrated at the state of the run-down, 84-year-old Coliseum, USC officials last week threatened to move the football team to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena beginning next fall.

Ron Miller, a 71-year-old pharmacist from Arcadia, said he has been to every USC home game since he was a freshman at the school in 1954. He said his daughter's wedding was scheduled so that it didn't conflict with game days.

"This is our home," said Miller, alongside his wife, Marilyn, a USC alumna who herself has attended every home game since 1955.

"People don't get married on a USC game day, or we don't go," Miller said. "We've never missed the kickoff, and we've never left early."

For tailgaters lounging on the south side of the Coliseum on Saturday well before USC won, 24-7, there was unease at what might happen with a move, including the prospect of losing parking spots they have used for years. And for some, setting up tailgating parties 15 miles away in Pasadena seemed akin to colonizing foreign soil.

"Do they have good parking spots?" asked Jane Fowler, 53, of Diamond Bar. "We have designated parking depending on how much you donate to the college. . . . I don't know if the Rose Bowl will have it."

Fowler's 29-year-old daughter, Chrissy, worried about what the move might mean for her 2-month-old son, Jack, bundled up on her chest.

"It might be his first time and last time" at a home game at the Coliseum, she said.

John Wadsworth was scornful of the idea of tailgating atop the Brookside Golf Course surrounding the Rose Bowl, which is converted to a parking lot on game days and can get muddy when it rains.

"It's the Pasadena swamp," said Wadsworth, 39, of Newport Beach. "You'd have a total revolt if USC went there."

Plus, the Coliseum is a true home field, right next to the USC campus, said Wadsworth's college buddy, Brad Porter, 39, of Manhattan Beach.

Moving USC's football games to Pasadena "would just lose that game-day college atmosphere," Porter said. And besides, "trying to get in and out of there is brutal."

UCLA fans were in no mood, either, to share the Rose Bowl, their home for the last 25 years.

"They should have their separate stadiums. I don't want the Trojans on my side," said Jennifer Perez, 28, of Covina. "We don't want any invasion."

UCLA fan Billy Campana, 36, of Whittier, agreed, and he had a message for Trojan fans.

"There's too much history just to leave," he said. "So stay out."

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ron.lin@latimes.com

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