Coliseum, USC reach tentative deal on lease

Times Staff Writer

USC and the Coliseum Commission have tentatively agreed on a lease that will keep the Trojans playing football at the historic stadium for the next 25 years, multiple sources said Tuesday.

The commission will vote today on a nonbinding letter of intent that sets the terms of the deal. The sides would then have 60 days to formalize the contract.

The agreement would put to rest talk of USC moving its home games to the Rose Bowl and would give the school veto power on any potential arrangement between the Coliseum and NFL.


So confident are the sides that a final resolution is near, they have called a 5:30 p.m. news conference at the Coliseum that includes elected officials from the city, county and state, and the Trojans marching band.

Todd Dickey, USC senior vice president and general counsel, said that if the commission approves the letter of intent, “it will be the beginning of a new day for both sides.”

The deal calls for major improvements to the venue, which the commission would fund with the sale of stadium naming rights. If that funding proves insufficient, USC would have the right to opt out of the agreement after two years.

The commission also will vote today whether to approve its lease with the state, which owns the stadium. That lease has already been approved by the California Science Center board on behalf of the state.

The proposed deal with USC stipulates an NFL team could not play in the Coliseum without the prior written consent of the school. The commission could still negotiate with an NFL team, but the school would take part in any negotiations.

“We never said we wanted to shut the door on the NFL,” Dickey said. “What we’re saying is it requires the university’s prior written consent.”