May 16, 2012

According to an LA Times report, USC is on the cusp on taking over control of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Coliseum, which has been in dire financial straits for a few years, will now be controlled by USC, thanks to an 8-1 vote in favor of the move by the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission.

The Coliseum has been in the hands of the public, or at least public officials, for the last 88 years.

Under the terms of the agreement, USC would be given a new lease and the right to control the Coliseum and its revenue, until 2054, when the Coliseum Commission is set to dissolve and have all of its assets transferred to the state of California. Industry experts, which placed the value of the stadium at somewhere in between $240 and $400 million, in 2005, have noted that the lease essentially gives USC all of the benefits of a stadium, without any of the responsibilities that accompany stadium ownership. (Ed. — Except for a $1 million dollar annual rent payment to the state).

Ever quick to jump on the fortuitous opportunity, USC plans on putting $70 million dollars worth of upgrades into the stadium, to help turn it into a world-class college facility.

The decision to grant the lease to USC was surrounded by controversy in part because many feel that USC is receiving something for nothing

“Most of it is exclusively to benefit the university,” said Parks, who is also an L.A. City Councilman. “We should have negotiated this with more interest to the community, and in the interest of the taxpayers.”

That being said, the Coliseum is so cash-strapped — its cash reserves will dwindle below $20,000 by the end of June — that some wonder if the panel simply ran out of options.

As an interesting aside, there is an NFL provision written into USC’s lease agreement — If needed, an NFL team will be allowed to use the stadium if necessary, with all gate-revenue going to USC.

A good deal, indeed.




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