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Public Workshop Set to Form Ideas for Coliseum Renovation

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The long process of renovating the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in accord with the agreement to keep the Raiders playing in the city gets under way next week with a four-day workshop to gather expert ideas for designing a new, smaller stadium that conserves the facility’s historic elements.

Architects and planners have been invited from the East Coast to join Los Angeles experts in preserving historic buildings at public sessions that are expected to cost the paying sponsors, the Coliseum Commission and the facility’s private managers, the Spectacor Limited Partnership, upwards of $50,000.

The workshop will be under the leadership of Michael Pittas, a former director of planning for New York City and a Harvard faculty member who organized the competition to design the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington.

Among those invited to participate are Frank Sanchez of Washington, lead architect with the National Trust for Historic Preservation; Michael Kwartier of New York, director of Columbia University’s program for historic preservation, and John Kariotis of Pasadena, a nationally recognized expert on seismic reinforcement of historic buildings.

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The workshop, beginning at noon Wednesday in the Clippers Club at the Sports Arena adjacent to the Coliseum, and continuing through Saturday will be followed on Dec. 18 by a public hearing, which will mark the formal start of work on an environmental impact report on the project that is expected to take a year to finalize.

According to terms of an agreement that Mayor Tom Bradley helped negotiate last summer, the $145-million Coliseum renovation was to incorporate up to 225 luxury boxes and 15,000 club seats, in a stadium that would be downsized for professional football from the present 92,000 to between 65,000 and 70,000 seats.

This was to be done, according to statements at the time, while preserving the present historic eastern peristyle end of the Coliseum as well as its exterior walls.

However, the notice prepared last month by the Coliseum Commission for drafting the environmental impact report states that the eastern peristyle will be preserved, but adds merely that “the interior modifications will acknowledge the character of the outer walls of the Coliseum.”

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Deputy Mayor Mark Fabiani said Friday he could not explain what this meant, but that the mayor has a pledge in writing from the Coliseum Commission and Spectacor to renovate the facility within the existing walls.

Next week’s design workshop is being formally co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Conservancy, an environmental and preservationist group.

The conservancy’s executive director, Jay Rounds, said he hopes a compromise can be reached that will give Los Angeles “an operable stadium while still being able to retain the historic integrity of the building.”

Coliseum Commission President Matthew Grossman said that while it is hoped construction of the new facility can start in early 1992, after completion of the Raiders’ next season, it may be delayed until early 1993. During the renovation, both the Raiders and USC will play one season at another venue, perhaps Dodger Stadium and Anaheim Stadium, respectively.

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