Commission to consider demolishing L.A. Sports Arena, bringing back controversial rave
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum commissioners are expected to consider Wednesday a plan to demolish the 52-year-old Sports Arena and replace it with either an amphitheater and open-air “multiple use space” –- capable of hosting rallies, festivals, carnivals and overflow parking for Coliseum events -- or construct a major league soccer stadium seating 22,000 spectators.
The Sports Arena opened in 1959 and was once the preeminent large-scale indoor venue in Los Angeles, home to the Lakers and the Clippers. But the facility now pales in comparison to modern venues like Staples Center.
According to an environmental impact report, the Sports Arena “has had an operating loss of between $750,000 and $900,000 each of the last five fiscal years.”
Also on the agenda is a proposal to bring back the Electric Daisy Carnival rave in June.
The proposal is likely to be controversial. It would mark the return of the largest annual rave at the Coliseum, which in 2010 brought 185,000 people over two days. About 120 people were transported to hospitals, mostly for drug intoxication, including 15-year-old Sasha Rodriguez, who fell into a coma at a hospital and died two days after the event.
A moratorium on future raves put in place after Sasha’s death had little practical effect because the ban did not cover previously scheduled raves.
Some Coliseum commissioners and managers say they have improved security and cite reduced hospital transport rates at raves in August, October and on New Year’s Eve. However, police and county emergency medical services officials say the the raves -– all-night dance parties associated with high levels of drug use -– continue to impose a significant burden on police, ambulance and hospital services.
State legislation has been proposed to ban raves at public venues, and last week the president of USC, C.L. Max Nikias, urged students not to attend raves, citing the dangers of the illegal drug Ecstasy, which he said “can create a ripple effect of dangers that lead to catastrophic consequences.”
Raves are big business for the Coliseum and Sports Arena, making up 28% of revenue. In January, Coliseum officials said the public venues’ income between July 1 and Nov. 30 was $1 million below their target of $2.3 million.
The Coliseum Commission is scheduled to meet at 2:30 p.m. at the commission’s board room near Gate 33-A on the eastern edge of the Coliseum.
-- Rong-Gong Lin II