Bill Plaschke recalls most memorable L.A. Coliseum moments

All hail the glorious Coliseum, all praise the centennial birthday of the Los Angeles landmark that has hosted a century’s worth of world-renowned athletes.

Like, strippers in an end zone hot tub.

The year was 2001, and the fledgling XFL’s Los Angeles Xtreme were attempting to entice fans by promising they could watch games from an end zone hot tub located below the famed Coliseum peristyle.

Ever the dutiful reporter, I showed up at the Xtreme’s home opener to interview any hearty souls who wanted to watch professional football in 45-degree temperatures while sitting soaking wet in their bathing suits.

Turns out, there were only three.

Cindy, Shanna and Roberta.

Earlier that afternoon, correctly concerned that no real fan would take advantage of their bubbling promotion, an Xtreme employee phoned the Spearmint Rhino gentleman’s club with a request.

“Get us three strippers down here, and fast.”

So that’s how the end zone became populated with pole dancers, the toughest athletes in the house, three women who spent four quarters basking in bikinis in what was surely one of the Coliseum’s strangest moments.

“I think it’s a little bit hokey, to tell you the truth,” Shanna said.

Meanwhile, all around them were fans tossing bottles and throwing punches and baring breasts and generally turning the football game into a street fight while eliciting this infamous official statement from then-Coliseum general manager Pat Lynch.

“It was no more rowdy than a USC game,” he said.

All hail the quirky Coliseum, a regal palace that wonderfully has mirrored the unpredictable passions and lovable eccentricities of the city that sprawls around it.

For every regal Rafer Johnson Olympic moment, there has been a celebrity causing chaos on Pete Carroll’s Trojans sideline. For each of the 90,000 lights that solemnly honored Roy Campanella, the monument has housed an equal number of moments filled with jubilant triumph, aching failure and just plain craziness.

Since joining the Times 36 years ago, I have been lucky to personally witness some of those human moments. The end zone hot tub was one of them. Here’s the rest of my top 10.