Groups react to USC master lease proposal

Many members of the local South Los Angeles community see USC’s quest to obtain total operational control of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum as beneficial to the surrounding area, according to public comments made before Wednesday’s planned Coliseum Commission meeting.

USC and the Coliseum Commission, the stadium’s nine-member governing body, have been in negotiations since September to modify the existing lease agreement, enacted in 2008.

Last month, the commission, along with USC, released through its website a list of terms that outline various modifications.

Thus far, many have been receptive to the idea of USC obtaining the “master lease” and control of the historic venue.

“Please allow USC to transform this facility,” said Robert C. Joyner, the Coliseum’s project manager, during the public comment portion. The meeting was eventually canceled after failing to provide the public sufficient notice as to the scheduled date.

Under the 16-page terms sheet released on Jan. 11, USC would have the exclusive right to manage the Coliseum, the adjacent Los Angeles Sports Arena and other facilities in surrounding Exposition Park.

“It’s a fantastic thing, USC managing the Coliseum,” said Charmaine Jefferson, executive director for the California African American Museum. “They probably have one of the strongest vested interests in making this historic place the best that it can be.”

USC would be responsible for renovating the stadium, which hosts six to seven football games each year, by Dec. 31, 2021.

“USC encourages a sense of camaraderie, and nowhere else can you experience that feeling than through the tradition of USC football,” said Undergraduate Student Government President Monish Tyagi. “Saturdays we can all come together at the Coliseum.”

How the stadium is eventually renovated has remained a point of contention over the last year. In June, the commission acknowledged it would be unable to make the nearly $60 million needed for renovations, prompting USC to seek day-to-day control of the 88-year-old facility.

USC Senior Vice President for University Relations Tom Sayles told the Daily Trojan last month that the school would be willing to fund the needed repairs.

U.S. Capital, LLC, a San Diego-based sports and entertainment company, has insisted the commission has not afforded other interested groups the opportunity to bid on a contract to manage the Coliseum. The group, along with its equity partners, said it would be able to fund the renovations without any federal, state or local aid if given the chance.

“We want to build a new Coliseum with our money and with support from USC,” U.S. Capital LLC Executive Vice President Linda Paul said. “We would work with USC. Everything they’ve requested in the past will be be built for them new.”

Because of the school’s history and involvement in the surrounding area, though, some continue to see USC as the logical fit to take control of the stadium in the coming years. The USC football team has been a tenant at the venue since 1923.

“The Coliseum has become a symbol of USC and of USC’s athletic department,” said Zachary Goodman, a freshman majoring in business administration. “They have the money to spend on the renovations, and I’m sure they wouldn’t do anything short of amazing.”