SBD/June 3, 2013/Facilities

USC To Get 98-Year Lease At L.A. Coliseum; Could Sell Naming Rights To Venue

Some believe a new L.A. Memorial Coliseum deal will shortchange taxpayers
The L.A. Memorial Coliseum Commission has "approved a new lease" with USC set to cover a 98-year period and the agreement could "win final approval" this week when a state board is scheduled to vote on it, according to Pringle & Lin II of the L.A. TIMES. But even some who believe that USC would "run the venue better than the trouble-plagued Coliseum Commission say the deal shortchanges taxpayers." Commission leaders "carved out the new deal largely in secret, saying it was necessary to keep the 90-year-old Coliseum from going bankrupt and falling into disuse." The agreement "grants USC naming rights and other advertising prerogatives, ticket and concession receipts -- nearly all of the property's moneymaking assets -- without requiring the school to buy the Coliseum complex, which includes the nearby Sports Arena." The agreement grants USC "most of the benefits of ownership but leaving taxpayers on the hook if an earthquake levels the stadium or other catastrophe strikes." USC, in addition to the Coliseum upgrades, would "pay for maintenance, operations and rent on the state land." Taxpayers would "get a renovated stadium and 5% of the money from naming rights, but no guarantee of further income." Taxpayers would "lose some of the parking for the free state museums that the public visits on adjacent land." USC after 20 years could "cancel the lease by giving notice, but the government could end it only by proving that the school violated its terms." The agreement was an "abrupt about-face for the agency, as it was hit by a "corruption scandal" uncovered in '11. Sources said that USC "should be able to sell the naming and advertising rights for a combined" $4-6M annually. That revenue alone "could more than cover USC's costs for the stadium improvements early in the lease." The school would "have to open its book for periodic review by the commission" (L.A. TIMES, 6/1).
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