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MCA Quits Coliseum Management Team and Effort to Keep the Raiders

TIMES STAFF WRITER

MCA Inc. is bowing out of the management of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and Sports Arena and the remaining partner, Spectacor Management Group, will become for the time being the sole private party attempting to make a deal to keep the Raiders in Los Angeles.

The development, announced by Coliseum authorities Monday, raised new questions about efforts to reach an agreement with the Raiders organization.

Spectacor Chairman Ed Snider said the change will not complicate talks with the Raiders, which, he said, continue to make progress.

However, other sources said the decision of MCA Chairman Lew Wasserman to take his company out of the proposed deal with the Raiders for an expensive renovation of the Coliseum could make it more difficult to come up with an advance payment to the Raiders. Team owner Al Davis is reportedly insisting on a payment as a guarantee that the Coliseum will be improved.

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The sources said that neither MCA nor Spectacor was comfortable with payment of millions of dollars to the Raiders before a lengthy project approval process, including an environmental impact report and consultations with state historic preservation authorities, was complete. The approval process could take more than a year.

One source close to the Raiders talks said Wasserman had indicated before the MCA decision to bow out that he was willing to put up money to help finance an environmental impact report, but had said, “I won’t put up money to put in Al’s (Davis’) pocket.”

This source said the amount of advance money MCA would have been asked to put up ranged from $3 million to $7 million, depending on what the team would compromise on.

An MCA spokeswoman said there would be no comment from the company confirming or denying Wasserman’s reported statement.

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In announcing the MCA decision, Al Teller, chairman of MCA Music Entertainment, said, “Stadium development, as opposed to management, is not within our current corporate and strategic goals. We applaud Spectacor’s efforts and wish them luck in keeping an NFL football team active in Los Angeles.”

Monday evening, another source privy to the discussions said that Spectacor also is balking at a big advance payment, although Snider did not confirm this.

The Raiders, which have been continuing discussions in the meantime on a possible new deal to move to Oakland, reportedly are uneasy about Los Angeles’ capacity to guarantee Coliseum renovation, but they had nothing to say publicly Monday.

Mayor Tom Bradley, who has been trying to arrange a deal, also was said Monday to be concerned about the early payment issue.

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The mayor, like the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission, is committed to using no public money in what could be a Coliseum renovation, complete with thousands of club seats and 200 luxury boxes, that would cost in excess of $100 million.

The commission, in reaching its recent deal with Spectacor and MCA, did commit itself to making a long-term $15-million loan to facilitate the reconstruction, but this agreement was worded to keep the $15 million in Coliseum hands until construction began. In short, it is not available for an advance payment to the Raiders.

In 1987, Irwindale made such a payment, giving the Raiders $10 million against a pledge to eventually finance a stadium in the San Gabriel Valley community. Financing could not be obtained and the Raiders kept the money.

Snider Monday called MCA “an outstanding partner” and said he was sorry about its decision to leave the Coliseum management.

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But, he said, since Spectacor officials had been in charge of management at the Coliseum and Sports Arena right along, the decision would have no immediate effect on how the facilities are run.

The Coliseum announcement said Spectacor and MCA would continue to be associated with one another nationally in the marketing of concerts.


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