Repairing the Coliseum
* The article by Catherine O’Neill (“Time Out on Coliseum Repairs,” Commentary, Feb. 18) asked, “Why the rush to spend unknown millions on this white elephant?” Yet she failed to mention the best reasons for supporting federal funding for repairs.
Without a 1994 football season, both USC and the Raiders will be forced to play their home games outside the city of Los Angeles, taking hundreds of jobs with them. Exposition Park’s museums would be adversely affected as well. The Raiders could decide to leave town for good. The real price to be paid by forgoing Coliseum repairs in favor of building a new stadium is that several years would be lost before USC and the Raiders could play in Los Angeles again.
The Coliseum’s distinctive architecture makes it the most recognizable public edifice, nationally and internationally, in all of Southern California. It is a symbol of Los Angeles and the significant role sports has played in our history. Its reconstruction by September will send a message that Los Angeles is back on its feet.
Although far from a state-of-the-art facility, the Coliseum is no white elephant. Its operation is self-supporting, and the facility does not receive government funding. The $35 million estimated cost of repairs represents less than 1% of total federal quake aid.
If the Coliseum can be rebuilt in time for football this year, the work should proceed. The idea of a brand-new stadium somewhere in the county is well worth exploring, but Coliseum repairs should not be held hostage to that debate.
DAVID SIMON, President
L.A. Sports Council
* O’Neill refers to “the urban blight that plagues the area.” I dropped by Exposition Park a few days before her article appeared. And I was appalled by the same acres of empty parking lots that she points out contribute to the blight. What really stuck in my craw was to see how a jewel of a recreational and educational preserve for all the public has been turned by “big money” interests and local governmental sycophants into a closed reservation of privilege, influence and greed.
The public road that used to offer access to museums, grassy expanse, a world-class swimming pool and tennis courts is no more. Instead of hundreds of parking spaces available for a dime or a quarter, now everyone must pay $3 for the dubious privilege of paying $5 per adult and $2.50 per child to gain admittance to the county’s only natural history museum. What most of us kids came to the area for, years ago, was to play touch football or basketball or softball on the playground, or a fast game of roller-skate hockey on the sidewalks around the Coliseum.
If we’re going to rebuild L.A. and all just get along, why not rejuvenate the Coliseum and environs as an area where we can all play and learn to live together harmoniously? And bring back those metered parking spaces!
DAVID K. CARLISLE
* I am a person who has been to every USC-Notre Dame and UCLA game since 1974 and consider myself not to be a sports fanatic, but rather someone who cherishes not just the teams, but the places where they play. In many cases, as with the Coliseum, the places have more history or importance than the teams that play in them. I cannot express in words the feeling I get being with my friends, as we walk toward the Coliseum, viewing the ivy-covered walls and imagining the great games of the past as we walk down the tunnels.
I do agree that money should be allocated only after a budget has been worked out or at least proposed, by the commission. I do not and will not agree or ever support building a new stadium. I am more than willing to see Al Davis go but certainly not the Coliseum!
* I don’t get it. The City Council votes to authorize a city attorney investigation into allegations that the Coliseum’s private manager, Spectacor, and its architect, HNTB, withheld a technical report from the Coliseum Commission that stated that the stadium could suffer severe damage in the event of a large earthquake (Feb. 10). Let’s see . . . the Coliseum was constructed of unreinforced concrete in the early 1920s, before substantial revisions to building codes in response to the 1933 Long Beach quake and the 1971 Sylmar quake. I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to conclude that a building constructed in this fashion over 70 years ago could come down if a large earthquake were to hit.
To top this, the commission turns around and hires an architect (without competitive bidding) to assist in earthquake repairs (Feb. 15). Yes, the same architect that the city attorney is investigating for allegedly withholding seismic information from the Coliseum Commission.
LARRY S. DuBOIS
* It blows my mind that $10.9 million out of the first $75 million being allocated to Los Angeles for earthquake damage will go to repair the Coliseum. What has happened to our council’s sense of priority? Do you not think that perhaps the damaged public schools should be repaired first? This taxpayer resents this motion and is ashamed of our City Council.