MCA-Spectacor Has Inside Track to Run Coliseum

Times Staff Writer

The partnership of MCA Inc.'s Music Entertainment Group and Spectacor Management has been selected as the "preferred bidder" to take over as private manager of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and Sports Arena, it was announced Wednesday.

The decision means that negotiations for a management contract will now proceed solely with MCA-Spectacor and that the other bid, by a partnership of Weintraub International and Madison Square Garden Corp., has been set aside as less desirable.

Any contract arrived at is still subject to approval by the Coliseum Commission, which could still decide against the Coliseum complex going under private management at this time. A two-thirds voting majority is required to approve a contract.

Scott Carmichael, a spokesman for the Coliseum Commission, said negotiators hope to be able to present a proposed contract to the commission when it meets on Feb. 3. But he added that it could take longer.

Manages Many Facilities

Spectacor manages many entertainment facilities, including the Spectrum in Philadelphia, Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, the Richmond Coliseum in Richmond, Va., the Centrum in Worcester, Mass., Kellogg Center Arena in Battle Creek, Mich., the Niagara Falls Civic Center and the Lakeland Civic Center in Lakeland, Fla.

MCA's Music Entertainment Group, part of the company's $2.6-billion business empire, includes MCA Records, MCA Distributing, MCA's music publishing companies, Facility Merchandising Inc., Frontline Management and the MCA Radio Network. It also operates the Universal Amphitheatre in Universal City and is involved in future amphitheater projects in Atlanta and Denver.

Progress has been slow in finding a private manager--which might seek to reopen negotiations with the Los Angeles Raiders for continuing to play football in the Coliseum rather than moving to Irwindale. The bids were first made last Oct. 26, and Coliseum General Manager Joel Ralph originally said a preferred bidder would be selected by Dec. 17.

Nonetheless, Ralph expressed optimism Wednesday.

"MCA-Spectacor are leaders in the industry today and with their vast experience in running facilities nationwide, the Coliseum and Sports Arena will become the premier showplace in Southern California," Ralph said.

Irving Azoff, head of MCA's Music Entertainment Group, said: "We look forward to putting the final touches on the negotiations with the Coliseum Commission and getting to the business at hand. . . . It is my personal and corporate priority to . . . make the Coliseum and Sports Arena into a state-of-the-art entertainment complex for the citizens of Los Angeles."

The original MCA-Spectacor bid called for $10 million in initial investments by the firms to improve the Sports Arena and said that if the Raiders remained at the Coliseum, the firms would pay the Coliseum Commission $1 million a year.

If the Raiders move out, the bid said the payments would be $525,000 a year, plus 20% of any net operating income of more than $1.78 million a year.

The commission hired an outside expert, Lawrence G. Greenberg, a retired partner in the accounting firm of Coopers and Lybrand, to help negotiate a deal, and Greenberg recently made a private counteroffer, asking for more.

The precise status of the negotiations was not described.

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