Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum officials acknowledged Wednesday that they anticipate a modified lease between the Coliseum Commission and USC to be released within the next week.
The proposed lease, once finalized, will be subject to a final vote at the commission’s next monthly meeting on May 2 or at a later date.
USC has been in negotiations with the Coliseum’s nine-member governing body since September in an effort to obtain operational control of the state and federal landmark, which has been run by the commission for the last 88 years.
The university has been a tenant of the Coliseum since 1923, with the Trojan football team playing a majority of its home games at the 93,000-seat venue in Exposition Park.
“We hope that through these negotiations the parties can agree upon a long-term lease that allows the Coliseum to be restored to its former glory and ensures its viability for many generations to come,” said Thomas Sayles, USC’s senior vice president for university relations, in a statement released to the Daily Trojan. “Our goal is to make the Coliseum a proud landmark and gathering place for all Angelenos. We support public disclosure and discussion of all lease terms before any deal is approved.”
According to a lease draft obtained by the Los Angeles Times, USC would be responsible for staffing the facility, along with day-to-day management, event scheduling and other obligations over the next 42 years. It would also have the opportunity to manage the adjacent Los Angeles Sports Arena or to demolish the facility to construct a soccer-specific stadium or parking lot.
David Israel, president of the Coliseum Commission, and L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, a member of the Coliseum Commission, declined to comment on the proposed lease draft or the negotiations.
Under the proposal, the university would receive naming and advertising rights, which would provide a source of revenue needed to fund stadium renovations that are expected to cost several million dollars.
In June commission acknowledged that it could not afford to make the necessary improvements to the facility, as required by the existing 25-year lease, signed in May 2008.
USC will be expected to cover the costs of the new video board and sound system, as well, according to the Los Angeles Times.
City Councilmember Bernard C. Parks, a member of the Coliseum Commission and City Council Representative for the 8th District, said he has concerns about the potential of the Coliseum, a public facility, being run by a private entity, such as USC.
“It looks like ’SC wrote the lease and we just nodded,” Parks said.
USC has attempted to obtain the master lease before, lobbying in 2007 for operational control of the publicly owned venue before agreeing upon its current lease.
“It sets a precedent in the fact that folks are trying to work themselves out of a job,” Parks said. “They’re so intent on saying, ‘Well, USC is going to fix this, so let’s just give it to them.’ I think we’re losing sight of what the meaningfulness of the park and the facility is to the community, and they’re not taking that into account at all. The community deserves a bit more sensitivity.”
If USC obtains operational control of the Coliseum, public events could still be held at the facility, including the annual Fourth of July fireworks celebration, but the university would be given the option of limiting the number of events to eight per year, as outlined under the proposal.
USC would also have first-refusal rights if an NFL team were to want to use the facility while a stadium in Downtown Los Angeles is being constructed.