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USC would gain control of taxpayer-owned parking lots under proposal

A proposed agreement between the state and USC would give the private university control of taxpayer-owned parking lots that serve the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and several public museums at Exposition Park.

Released in draft form Tuesday, the proposal is part of a lease package that allows USC to take over operations of the Coliseum, home to the school’s football team, and the companion Sports Arena for as long as 99 years.

It would also grant USC the option of razing the Sports Arena and developing the site as a professional soccer stadium.

State officials plan to hold a series of public meetings on the proposal over the next few weeks. The California Science Center board, the landlord of the Coliseum property, is expected to discuss the matter at its Jan. 9 meeting.

The Coliseum Commission has already struck a tentative lease deal with USC for management of the complex. The panel sought the agreement after a financial scandal helped drive the property to the edge of insolvency.

USC would pay the state rent for the Coliseum and parking lots and share some profits from the operations. In addition, the school would fund tens of millions of dollars in improvements to the Coliseum. USC would also pay for upgrades to the Sports Arena if it exercises an option to keep running it.

The commission and state officials say the leases offer the best way to ensure that the aging Coliseum, a two-time Summer Olympics venue, does not fall into disuse. But critics say the agreements would grant USC too much authority over the property and not pay the public enough money in return.

Tuesday’s draft does not affect the Science Center parking garage. It guarantees the center and the other museums the right to stage up to a total of 24 major events a year at the Coliseum.

The California State and Consumer Services Agency invites the public to comment on the proposal at this email address: ExpoParkProposalComments@scsa.ca.gov.

--Paul Pringle and Rong-Gong Lin II

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