Raiders Losing Rent-Free Deal at the Coliseum : Football: It could be a moot point, but commission is looking for team to pay $788,000. Financing isn't available to build luxury suites.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

In a development that further complicates the issue of where the Raiders will play the 1995 season, the Coliseum Commission on Wednesday tentatively adopted a budget for the coming fiscal year that calls for the team, which played rent-free in the Coliseum last fall, to pay $788,000 this season.

But commissioners acknowledged that they have had no talks with the team about terms and are not sure owner Al Davis wants the team to play in the stadium.

Payments of $788,000 were approximately the amount that the Raiders paid the Coliseum in rent two years ago, before the stadium was wrecked in the Northridge earthquake and had to be repaired at a cost to the government of nearly $100 million.

Most of the Coliseum repairs have been completed, but the old press box was only recently demolished and a new one is being built this summer at government expense.

Coliseum officials said Wednesday that their hopes of obtaining bank financing to add 21 luxury suites this year to the new press box will probably not be realized.

Davis has put off the sale of Raider season tickets again this year while pondering whether to pursue a proposed stadium deal at Hollywood Park or return to Oakland.

The team had no comment on the Coliseum Commission action.

The Hollywood Park stadium, if approved, would not be ready until at least 1997. In the meantime, Coliseum commissioners hope Davis would choose the Coliseum over Anaheim Stadium or some other Southern California location as the team's home pending the new stadium's completion.

But, commissioners have said for months, they cannot afford a rent-free deal with the Raiders this year.

In the fiscal year that ends June 30, the Coliseum and Sports Arena lost $716,000, commission budget committee chairman James Dickason reported Wednesday. Of that amount, the commission lost $196,000 by having the Raiders play in the Coliseum.

The Raiders paid $25,000 in day-of-game expenses last year but paid $60,000 the year before. The $25,000 did not approach the Coliseum's security, cleanup and other costs for Raider games.

In tentatively adopting a new budget, the Coliseum Commission projected a profit in the coming fiscal year, beginning July 1, of $1,213,000.

In addition to the $788,000 in increased revenue from the Raiders, the budget foresees more soccer and Latin dances at the Coliseum in the coming year, as well as increases in income at the Sports Arena from a new minor league hockey franchise there, as well as more concerts, dances and even public ice skating, which began this week.

The budget also calls for the commission to hold back on administrative expenses, giving no salary increases to its staff this year.

In holding out for full rent from Davis, the commission appears to be taking a risk.

In the past, Davis has often prevailed in tough, lengthy negotiations with the commission and its private managers, the Spectacor partnership.

Last year, some commissioners insisted even after they reached agreement with Davis that the Raiders would not play rent-free. But when they finally released the contract, it was a rent-free deal.

Last year, with the Coliseum under repair, it was not known until mid-June that the stadium would be usable, severely affecting season-ticket sales.

This year, mid-June is approaching, and, as one commissioner put it last week, "We are dead in the water until Davis says where he intends to play."

If and when he does say he will play in the Coliseum, talks could be protracted over the terms.

No love is lost between the commission and Davis, who in recent months has frequently complained that the Coliseum is a poor place to play and that his team does not draw well there.

Commissioners, on the other hand, suggest he would be drawing better if he completed his playing arrangements and sold season tickets earlier.

As for the luxury suites the commission had hoped to build, Coliseum construction supervisor Don C. Webb explained that the Bank of America, the potential lender, wants a guaranteed income flow at the stadium before making a loan.

The commission has been trying to obtain a new concession contract that would have assured it of at least $2 million a year in income, but so far that has not come to fruition.

Even if the Bank of America makes the loan, it would be too late to build the new boxes in time for the beginning of the next football season, commissioners said.

Times staff writer Steve Springer contributed to this story.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
58°