Triumphant Troy: USC wins deal to own LA Coliseum

By: Myles J. Robinson

The Los Angeles Coliseum has been a staple in America sports, hosting two summer Olympics along with numerous Super Bowls and World Series. Holding on to tradition, the Coliseum Commission, University of Southern California advisors and Los Angeles Science Center board members have just finished their fight for financial control of the National Historic Landmark.

Considering the 2011 scandal, which featured bribery and embezzlement on behalf of three Coliseum managers and their business partners, it should not come as a surprise that USC was able to leverage its way to claim as much as 95% of the naming rights on the Coliseum.

The new partnership allows USC to tear down the neighboring Sports Arena and replace it with a professional soccer stadium or large amphitheater. If the Trojans choose to build a soccer stadium, surprisingly none of the resulting revenues are allowed for public use. Besides USC retaining all ticket and concession revenues at any future Coliseum events, the deal includes numerous other facets:

  • USC must spend at least $70 million on renovations during the deal’s first ten years and $30 million more by 2054 to keep the lease the full term
  • USC has two years to renovate the Coliseum in accordance with “public benefit objectives” (via the December 7, 2011 lease agreement)
  • The California Science Center will receive a $1 million yearly rent payment, which will increase to $1.3 million by 2016

Despite the great assets gained from the private university, there is still disapproval from many different angles. The California African American Museum reported the Exposition Park would lose an estimated $23 million over the life of the 98-year deal. Exposition Park, which receives about 80% of its dollars from parking, includes the Coliseum and neighboring sites like the California Science Center, the California African American Museum and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. California Science Center Foundation Trustee Marvin Holen claims his criticism is centers around education not economics, noting the deal impacts the youth programs at Exposition Park’s neighboring museums. Holen warned against the agreement last week saying, “If anyone had any sense, they’d dial 911.”

San Diego resident Steve Owen is a bit more optimistic, according to the Los Angeles Times:

“I am happy that USC will control the Coliseum…This will be much better than the three-ring circus we have with the Coliseum Commission, one of the most incompetent government agencies ever assembled.”

USC Athletic Director Pat Haden, who was quoted last week in the Daily Trojan, also is in support: “…this deal does not in any way hurt the museums in Exposition Park and in fact helps solve major financial problems looming over the Science Center…”

As the host of two summer Olympics and numerous Super Bowls and World Series, the Lost Angeles Coliseum has been in the hearts of Californians for almost a century. Named a National Historic Landmark in 1984, the Coliseum now seeks to keep its landmark status by making its renovations complimentary to the building, something Soldier Field did not follow back in 2002. The stadium’s future upgrades put it in the lead to contend as the temporary home of a Los Angeles NFL team. It is interesting to note the Rose Bowl is also currently under its own renovation project, which is valued at $152 million.

Fight on, Trojans — this time you’re playing for the public interest of California.

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