SBD/December 30, 2013/Facilities

L.A. Coliseum Commission Forced To Pay For Trying To Keep USC Lease Negotiations Quiet

The L.A. Memorial Coliseum was "flirting with insolvency, but that didn't stop its government overseers from incurring hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal expenses to keep secret their deliberations on a new long-term lease for the stadium," according to Pringle & Lin II of the L.A. TIMES. The Coliseum Commission for more than a year "fought an open-government lawsuit that challenged the legality of the closed-door talks on USC's lease of the historic venue." The suit also "sought to make records related to the deal public." The commission after "losing the court battle" had to "pay about $415,000 in legal expenses incurred by the plaintiffs in the case." Experts said that the award, "paid last week, is one of the largest ever granted under the state's transparency statutes." The commission also was "forced to give The Times hundreds of pages of Coliseum emails." The e-mails show interim Coliseum Commission GM John Sandbrook "granting nearly every wish USC had for the negotiations and then helping the university build and maintain political support for the lease." Some of the e-mails the government "sought to keep under wraps show that the stadium officials and USC collaborated in securing backing for the lease in City Hall and Sacramento." As the lease talks progressed, Sandbrook also "tipped off USC negotiator Kristina Raspe to potential missteps that could hurt USC's position" (L.A. TIMES, 12/28).
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