L.A. Coliseum releases proposed lease with USC
After months of secretive negotiations that drew fire from open-government advocates, the scandal-plagued Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission unveiled a proposed lease agreement Tuesday that would surrender public control of the historic 88-year-old stadium to USC.
The move comes as the taxpayer-owned venue's finances deteriorate. In the 12 months since interim general manager John Sandbrook took over, the Coliseum Commission has lost about $1.4 million, according to the stadium’s monthly financial statements.
The losses came despite new business the stadium and the companion Sports Arena attracted, such as temporarily hosting UCLA basketball.
The draft document released Tuesday is similar to a copy The Times obtained and posted on its website April 4. The deal envisions USC taking control of the publicly-owned venue for up to 42 years.
USC is also pursuing a separate deal with the state of California to control parking lots around the Coliseum, and to continue leasing the stadium beyond 2054. The state owns the land on which the Coliseum sits.
Some outside experts have labeled the proposed Coliseum deal extraordinary, saying USC would reap most of the benefit of the stadium upgrades that represent the school’s main contribution to the agreement.
Commissioners say the deal ensures the stadium’s future as home to the school’s Trojan football team.
The commissioners have negotiated perks for themselves. They would get the equivalent of 10 free tickets each to every Trojan contest at the stadium, plus premium parking, as well as access to a VIP hospitality area on game days.
Last month, criminal charges were filed against three former Coliseum managers, two prominent rave concert promoters and a stadium janitorial contractor. The district attorney's investigation into a rash of alleged bribery, kickbacks and conflicts of interest grew out of Times reports on financial irregularities at the stadium.
The Coliseum Commission could vote on the deal as early as its meeting on May 2 at 2:30 p.m. at the Coliseum Commission board room, on the eastern edge of the stadium. Comments can be sent to email@example.com or by mail to 3911 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90037.
--- Rong-Gong Lin II and Paul Pringle
Photo: USC defenders William Tober (27) and Drew McAllister (19) break up a pass intended for Marqise Lee during USC's Spring scrimmage at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Saturday. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times