Breaking a decade-long political monopoly that scuttled the potential for other local stadium projects, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa released a statement Wednesday in which he said, "While I remain committed to bringing a professional team to Los Angeles, it is time to read the scoreboard: the Coliseum is no longer a viable option for the NFL."
The mayor's statement, in the wake of USC's announcement that it was negotiating with the Rose Bowl as a possible home for its football team, comes about 18 months after he arrived at league meetings with a contingent of Coliseum backers and told owners that the venerable stadium was the only place for the NFL in Los Angeles.
With the region's political powers firmly in the Coliseum's camp for years, stadium proposals for Dodger Stadium, at South Park near downtown and others fell by the wayside.
"Over the last two years, the city has made every effort to bring an NFL team to the L.A. Coliseum . . ." Villaraigosa said in the statement. "The Coliseum is and should remain the home of the USC Trojans. I am committed to seeking a long-term agreement with USC that protects the public interest, preserves jobs and benefits the entire community of South Los Angeles."
Coliseum general manager Pat Lynch, a spokesman for the Coliseum Commission, said if the potential of the NFL horning in on USC's place as the stadium's main tenant is the school's major objection, then that obstacle could be overcome.
"We're not holding our breath on the NFL. We're moving on," Lynch said this afternoon. "That's why we're engaged in these negotiations with USC. So nobody's sitting here holding out any kind of place-holder for the NFL."