On Thursday, officials from USC, the California Science Center Board of Directors, the Coliseum Commission and various other officials from the city of Los Angeles, the county of Los Angeles and the state of California met to sign a new lease regarding the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The signing occurred the day after the California Science Center board of directors gave the final approval in a unanimous vote.
The Coliseum has been the home of Trojan football since its opening in 1923, and has remained a landmark in Los Angeles since then. It is the only stadium to have hosted two Olympic games, as well as two Super Bowls and a World Series, and will host the 2015 Special Olympics. With a capacity of more than 93,000 people, it is also one of the largest stadiums in Los Angeles.
“[The Coliseum] represents Trojan pride in our football team, how much we care for it and how it represents USC,” Joyce Zhan, a freshman majoring in biology, said.
The deal was finally approved after nearly two years of negotiation, and marks the transfer of the master lease from the Coliseum Commission to USC. The deal guarantees a restoration of the stadium as well. USC has committed to about $100 million in renovations, including $70 million in the first 10 years.
As the sole continuous tenant of the Coliseum since its opening, USC has been in position to gain control of the master lease since the Coliseum Commission made clear two years ago that it would be unable to make the $50 million in renovations promised to the unviersity.
“This agreement assures that Expo Park will remain a community asset that provides recreation to thousands of kids and their families,” Fabian Wesson, the chair of the California Science Center Board of Directors, said.
USC President C. L. Max Nikias spoke at the signing, where the Trojan marching band also made an appearance.
“Throughout USC’s enduring connection to the Coliseum, we have been committed to making it a source of pride not only for the present moment, but also for generations far into the future,” Nikias said.
The deal also gives control of the Sports Arena to USC. USC will pay $1 million in annual rent to the state, and must also pay the state 5 percent of the receipts for naming rights. This marks the transfer of the Coliseum from a publicly owned structure to a privately owned and operated structure.
“This is a great day not just for USC but for the neighborhood and the whole city of L.A. We’re planning to do a restoration, and this will continue to be the home of Trojan football for another 99 years,” Nikias said in a short message to the USC student body.
Overall, the officials who spoke at the signing all expressed their satisfaction with the deal and their thanks to everyone who had helped them in the long two year negotiations, which were originally supposed to last 90 days or less.
Don Knabe, president of the Coliseum Commission and supervisor for the fourth district of L.A. County, applauded the deal as a great example of “public [and]private partnership” and said that he “look[s] forward to the preservation and improvement of this iconic building for generations of Southern Californians to enjoy.”
“I think the renovations that USC has done in the surrounding area, as well as on its own campus, are a testament to how well the school maintains and improves its property,” Chasen Washington, an undecided freshman, said. “I hope that the lease will make up for the years the Coliseum has been forgotten by the city and restore the beauty of its architecture and its legacy.”
Many of the speakers also mentioned their wish for the Coliseum to host the 2024 Summer Olympics.
“We look forward to having the Opening Ceremonies of the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in the Coliseum two summers from now, and we hope that this renaissance of the Coliseum under USC leadership will also bolster the pending proposal of Los Angeles to the U.S. Olympic Committee to serve as the U.S. candidate to host the 2024 Summer Olympics,” Knabe said.
USC officials also expressed a desire to make the Coliseum a landmark for future generations to come.
“We look forward to restoring and upgrading the coliseum to its former glory … We also welcome educational partnerships that will attract more students and families to Exposition Park, and we will ensure that the coliseum will stand proudly in the heart of Los Angeles in the 21st century,” Nikias said.
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