USC might have full control of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum before the end of the fall semester, according to a report by ESPN Los Angeles.
USC will meet with the Coliseum Commission, the stadium’s governing board, Sept. 7. After this meeting, according to ESPN Los Angeles, the commission is expected to negotiate a master lease with the university, which would transfer control of the Coliseum from the commission, which includes nine representatives from the state, county and city, to the university.
The university lobbied for control of the Coliseum in 2007, but ultimately agreed to a 25-year lease that stipulates the university will give 8 percent of ticket sales and $1.8 million to the commission annually, provided the commission supports upgrades to the stadium.
Under the agreement, the commission has until Sept. 30 to present USC with a plan for implementing renovations to the stadium. If the commission does not have a plan by that point, the university can declare a default. At that point, the university could choose to undertake the upgrades itself and bill the commission, according to councilman and commission member Bernard Parks. If that happens, said Parks, there is the possibility the commission could not afford it.
USC has acknowledged it would like to take control of the stadium.
“USC is working to make sure that all parties are meeting their obligations related to the Coliseum under our contract,” Thomas Sayles, senior vice president for university relations, said in a statement. “Our goal is to ensure that the facility continues to be a long-term asset for the community and for the university. To that end, we have believed for some time that having a master lease would be in the best long-term interests of the community and the university.”
Parks, who represents the district that includes USC, is the only member of the commission who has opposed giving USC control of the stadium. Parks said he believes the commission should try to work with multiple tenants to grow its revenue and emphasize the point that it can financially support renovations.
Specifically, Parks hopes the Coliseum will be the temporary home of the NFL team that might come to Los Angeles. According to the Los Angeles Times, however, AEG, the company looking to build a stadium Downtown, has said it will only consider using the Coliseum if it can negotiate with USC, not the commission. Additionally, USC’s lease gives it a say in the decision about whether or not to give an NFL team space in the Coliseum.
Parks said he does not know that the Sept. 7 meeting will specifically include a vote on whether or not to pursue a master lease; he is still focusing on the Sept. 30 deadline. ESPN LA reports, however, that some expect the university and the commission to have an agreement on the master lease by Dec. 7.