The State of California and USC will conduct public forums this week to gauge support for a leasing agreement that would grant the University about 70 percent of the California Science Center’s parking spaces for 25 events every year.
On May 30 and June 1, attendees can provide input on the potential lease’s latest terms.
The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission and USC agreed to terms of a lease on May 14, 2012. The lease would put the stadium under USC’s control until 2054, provided USC makes significant renovations, totaling between $70 million and $100 million. Since then, USC has been in talks with the state to finalize the agreement.
“We look forward to restoring the Coliseum to its former glory and ensuring its viability for many generations to come,” Senior Vice President Tom Sayles said in a statement to USC News after reaching the May 2012 agreement. “We believe this agreement will once again make the Coliseum a proud landmark and gathering place for all Angelenos.”
Although both sides are generally supportive of the lease thus far, the state must approve certain aspects of the lease, specifically the dispute over ownership of the parking lots in Exposition Park.
“We are still in discussions with the state on several aspects of the lease,” Sayles said in a statement. “We support public disclosure and discussion of all terms before any lease is approved, and we are hopeful of reaching an agreement that works for everyone.”
Some of the lease’s current opponents say this parking agreement would hurt the California Science Center and California African American Museum, because those sites would lose more than 1,400 parking spaces on Coliseum event days.
Dimiana Saad, a rising senior majoring in psychology, said leasing the stadium is a natural next step for the university.
“I honestly never knew that the Coliseum wasn’t owned by USC,” Saad said. “When I attended the Electric Daisy Carnival in 2010 [at the stadium] after committing to become a Trojan, I remember feeling as though I was already on campus. Since football is treated like a religion at our school, it only feels right that we have official ownership over the Coliseum.”
These renovations will be paid for in part by a $5 hike on ticket prices for the 2013 USC football season.
Meagan Hauser, a rising senior majoring in communication, thinks that the $5 price raise is worth it.
“I am totally supportive of USC leasing the Coliseum,” Hauser said. “While the stadium is historic, it is really rundown and in need of restoration.”
Others hope that the stadium is not just a glorified temple for USC’s most treasured sports team. Jake Curry, a ’13 alumnus who majored in health promotion and disease prevention, wants USC to use this opportunity for community involvement.
“I think that [USC] should focus on incorporating local communities with cultural events along with the bigger events,” Curry said. “That way, it can increase not only money but also help us get more involved with the community around us.”
The decision by the state could take as long as a year, but the public will have multiple chances before then to voice their opinions. Comments be submitted to ExpoParkProposalComments@scsa.ca.gov, and the public can attend forums on May 30 at the California African American Museum at 6 p.m. and June 1 at the California Science Center at 10 a.m. The California Science Center Board of Directors will vote on the agreement June 5.