USC Given Control Of L.A. Coliseum; School Must Spend At Least $70M On Upgrades
The California Science Center & Exposition Park BOD yesterday "approved a sharply debated deal" that grants USC control of L.A. Memorial Coliseum and "nearly all of the revenues from the taxpayer-owned stadium for the next century," according to Lin & Pringle of the L.A. TIMES. The board voted 7-0 to "adopt the basic terms of the lease agreement," which will "become effective after the state Department of General Services and the California Natural Resources Agency approve a final document and the Science Center board ratifies it." USC also has the "option to tear down the neighboring Sports Arena and replace it with a soccer stadium or amphitheater." The school has talked with MLS about "building a stadium on the site, possibly for Chivas USA." Critics have labeled the agreement a "giveaway to USC that fails to guarantee the public enough money." Key opposition to the deal had "come from trustees of the Science Center's fundraising foundation, which is separate from the governing board." The trustees said that the museum "would be hurt by a provision that allows the school to take over Science Center parking for USC football games and other major events." An earlier version of the 98-year lease "gave USC the right to claim museum parking for 25 big events annually," but that was "reduced to nine or possibly 10 after fierce opposition." The lease requires USC to spend at least $70M on upgrades "during the first decade." The school also will pick up the Coliseum Commission's $1M yearly rent payment to the state, an amount that rises to $1.3M in '16 and then "adjusted afterward for inflation." USC "must pay the state 5% of the proceeds from the sale of naming rights." The school will "retain all ticket and concession revenues from football games and other Coliseum events" (L.A. TIMES, 6/26).