USC, Coliseum close to a deal

Times Staff Writer

Representatives of both sides in the effort to keep USC playing football in the Coliseum expressed optimism Tuesday that an agreement could be reached as early as next week.

The Coliseum Commission is expected to vote on the most recent set of negotiated proposals at its monthly meeting next Wednesday.

Pat Lynch, general manager of the Coliseum and Sports Arena, said, “We’re not done yet, but we are very, very close.”


Six favorable votes are needed from the nine members of the commission -- three each from the state, county and city -- to get a new lease agreement with USC.

The Trojans have played in the Coliseum since it was built in 1923, but school officials, unhappy with the current lease, announced near the end of last football season that they were exploring other options, specifically sharing the Rose Bowl with UCLA.

Todd Dickey, senior vice-president and general counsel at USC, said, “Are we close? Yes. We have worked through 99% of the issues.”

Dickey said the last talking point is rent, and issues expenses related to that.

USC will likely pay the Coliseum Commission about $1.6 million in rent for next season, based on 8% of ticket sales. Dickey, seeming to accept that as a workable number, said that the issue still under discussion is who pays for game-day expenses -- ticket takers, ushers, security, concessions-workers, etc.

“That used to be split,” he said. “Now, the commission is asking that we pay for all of it.”

Dickey said, on a given day, those expenses can be as much as “a couple million dollars.”

Both Lynch and Dickey said that the once-heated issue of stadium improvements was no longer a stumbling block, that both sides would contribute to that and that there seemed to be general agreement on how much and when.

“We’re ready to get this done,” Lynch said. “We are pushing on it. The ball is in our court.”