SBJ/May 27-June 2, 2013/Facilities

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  • NFL vet Steeg prime candidate for job running L.A. Coliseum

    Don Muret
    Former NFL executive Jim Steeg is a prime candidate to become the new general manager of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, according to sources familiar with the situation.

    Steeg said he has not received a job offer from the University of Southern California to run the coliseum. Since January, Steeg has been consulting with USC in the transition as the school takes over management of the 92,000-seat facility.
     
    Kristina Raspe, vice president for USC’s real estate and asset management department, the group handling the transition for the university, did not return an email and a phone call for comment.
     
    The position is expected to be filled pending approval by state and local officials of an agreement for the university to assume the stadium’s operations through the 2054. Southern Cal football is the coliseum’s primary tenant.

    Contract negotiations between USC and the California Science Center, which owns the property where the coliseum sits, have been stalled for a year by a dispute over the stadium’s parking lots. USC wanted control of the lots; the science center had opposed the measure.
     
    The parking issue has finally been resolved with a new term sheet posted May 20 containing greater details of the proposed 40-year agreement between USC and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission. The deal also covers the Los Angeles Sports Arena, which is next door to the stadium.

    The proposed agreements will be discussed during two public hearings, Thursday and Saturday, set by the board of directors for the Science Center and Exposition Park, home of the coliseum. Final approval could come during the coliseum commission’s June 5 board meeting, sources said.

    In an email sent to SportsBusiness Journal last Tuesday, USC officials said they were in discussions with the state over several aspects of the lease and hoped to reach an agreement that satisfies all parties. They would not comment on whether Steeg is the favorite to manage the coliseum.

    Steeg’s résumé features 35 years of experience in the NFL, including 26 years as the league’s senior vice president of events in charge of the Super Bowl. From November 2004 to April 2010, he served as the San Diego Chargers’ executive vice president and chief operating officer.

    John Sandbrook, a retired UCLA administrator, has been the coliseum’s interim general manager for the past two years.

    As part of the lease, USC also would be responsible for covering stadium upgrades of $70 million to $100 million, although sources have said those improvements could reach $300 million.

    The Smith Center has been home to North Carolina basketball since 1986.
    Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
    > DEAN’S LIST: The University of North Carolina could potentially build a new basketball arena to replace the Dean E. Smith Center, says Bubba Cunningham, the school’s athletic director.

    During a recent visit to SportsBusiness Journal’s corporate office in Charlotte, Cunningham said the school is studying the possibility of replacing the Smith Center as well as renovating the facility by adding suites and club seats to generate more revenue for the athletic department.

    The Smith Center opened 27 years ago with no suites in a 21,750-seat building. Improvements have been made over the years, including an LED ribbon board that debuted last season.

    Cunningham said he has talked to UNC’s facilities staff as well as 360 Architecture to get ideas and thoughts on both scenarios. 360’s Tom Waggoner and Cunningham worked on sports projects at Tulsa and Notre Dame during Cunningham’s tenure at those two schools.

    In Chapel Hill, UNC is about a year away from making a final decision on the future of its arena, Cunningham said. There is space on campus to build a new facility, although Cunningham would not identify a site.

    “We’re so early in the process, [but either plan] would certainly have more premium seating,” he said. “I think when you’re looking at a building that was built in 1986, you have to look at all your options, including a new arena.”

    Don Muret can be reached at dmuret@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @breakground.

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