USC and Coliseum close in on deal

Times Staff Writer

USC is one step closer to ensuring the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum will be its permanent football home.

Lawyers for the school and the Coliseum Commission have completed a long-term lease agreement that will be presented today for final approval, officials from both sides said.

The 25-year deal, which can be extended to 47 years, is the first long-term contract in a relationship that has lasted more than eight decades.

"The fact that we could get such a complicated transaction done in 90 days shows the commitment on both sides to make this happen," said Kristina Raspe, USC's associate senior vice president for real estate and asset management.

Although the document will be submitted today at the Coliseum's monthly meeting, it is unlikely that the commission will vote on it immediately.

"It's a couple inches thick," said Pat Lynch, the general manager for the Coliseum. "There's no way our folks could even read it that quickly. We'll capsulize all the terms and issues. They'll all get a copy and review it."

However, Lynch added: "From our eyes, we're done in terms of a meeting of the minds."

Lynch said the nine-member commission probably will call a special meeting when it's ready to approve the final document.

At least six commissioners must vote in favor of the agreement for approval.

The school has a one-year lease option for the stadium in case the agreement is not approved. USC's football home opener is Sept. 13 against Ohio State.

The proposed pact gives USC veto power over an NFL team returning to the Coliseum, and provides the school seats on the California Science Center Board and the Coliseum Commission.

In exchange, USC will allow the commission to use the school's name and logos as the centerpiece of a future naming-rights deal. The money generated would be earmarked for stadium improvements, including new video displays, concession areas, seating, drainage systems, locker rooms, elevators and escalators.

The document also says that if the commission fails to make the promised improvements in a timely and satisfactory manner, the school can opt out of the agreement after two years. USC would have the right to pay for the improvements itself and be repaid with interest.

The structure of the proposed deal was announced in mid-February as part of a celebratory news conference that included the Trojans marching band and football Coach Pete Carroll.


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