SBD/May 15, 2012/Facilities

L.A. Coliseum Panel OKs Deal To Transfer Venue Control To USC

New lease gives USC the right to control L.A. Memorial Coliseum until 2054
The L.A. Memorial Coliseum Commission “approved a controversial deal Monday to surrender day-to-day control of the historic venue to USC,” according to Rong-Gong Lin II of the L.A. TIMES. The 8-to-1 vote “would virtually end public stewardship of the 88-year-old stadium.” USC Senior VP/University Relations Tom Sayles said, “We’re now in a position to restore this wonderful venue to its past glory.” Lin notes the pact “signals the failure of public officials to maintain the Coliseum as a self-sustaining venture.” The new lease would give USC “the right to control the facility until 2054, when the Coliseum Commission is set to dissolve and the assets are to be transferred to the state.” USC, however, “wants the state to extend the lease through 2111.” Under the deal, USC would put $70M into upgrades and “take control of the Coliseum’s revenue.” The university would also “assume the $1-million annual rent payment to the state.” State officials have “questioned whether the accord is the best one for taxpayers.” In addition to seeking to lease the stadium for 99 years, USC “wants control of six revenue-rich, state-owned parking lots that ring the Coliseum and a promise that officials will not try to renegotiate the lease if the stadium goes bankrupt.” The Coliseum is “so strapped -- its reserves are expected to dwindle from $2.3 million to $15,375 between the end of May and the end of June -- that the panel voted to mortgage the iconic stadium sign near the 110 Freeway to USC for up to $1.5 million.” If the Coliseum cannot repay the loan in 10 years, “USC would be able to seize the sign” (L.A. TIMES, 5/15).

LOOKING BACK: ESPN L.A.'s Arash Markazi noted, “Four years ago, USC offered to pay $100 million to renovate the Coliseum in exchange for the master lease, but the commission rejected it.” The Commission believed a naming rights deal for the Coliseum “would net them just as much, if not more.” However, the economy crashed soon after “and with it went a couple of naming-rights deals the commission was working on.” After gaining control of the Coliseum, USC officials say that they "will begin plans to return the Coliseum to the condition that made it the home of two Olympic Games and two Super Bowls.” It is also “being discussed as a temporary facility for an NFL team if the NFL decides to return” to L.A. (ESPNLA.com, 5/14).

ROSE BOWL RENOVATIONS: In Pasadena, Brenda Gazzar reports Rose Bowl renovations officials “are scrambling to reduce an early cost estimate by owner’s representative Parsons Corp. for the third and final phase of the stadium’s $160 million makeover, which has come in higher than the anticipated $25 million.” City Manager Michael Beck yesterday said that he "expects the $20 million gap in funding for the Rose Bowl renovation to grow by several million dollars in the coming weeks.” Rose Bowl Operating Co. Board Member Dennis Murphy said, “I would say it’s going to be several million (more) but what the word several means I don’t know. It’s a moving target” (PASADENA STAR-NEWS, 5/15).

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