USC to take over L.A. Coliseum, Sports Arena on Monday

Pyrotechnic workers set up for this year's Fourth of July fireworks show at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
(Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times)

USC is poised to take over the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and Sports Arena on Monday in anticipation of a 98-year lease of the public venues that has already been negotiated.

The long-term lease is expected to kick in once USC and the nearby California Science Center finalize an agreement on management of state-owned parking lots during Coliseum and Sports Arena events.

After the Science Center board postponed a vote on a parking deal this week, USC agreed to operate the stadium and arena for five months, taking control of the Coliseum for the fall football season. The USC Trojans have played at the stadium since it opened in 1923.


A spokeswoman for the Science Center board, Melissa Figueroa, said final ratification was put on hold because summer travel schedules did not permit officials “to complete the edits and review” before its meeting Wednesday.

The Coliseum Commission, which governs the facilities, voted last week to approve the temporary arrangement. That agreement states that if the state Science Center board does not approve a parking lot deal by Dec. 16, the entire 98-year agreement giving control of the venues to USC could collapse.

USC has sought control of the parking as a condition to run the Coliseum and Sports Arena. Opponents of such an arrangement said it would severely curtail parking for visitors to the Science Center and adjacent California African American Museum, and the museums’ revenue could drop.

Under the deal now on the table, USC could claim museum parking for nine or 10 major events annually, depending on the number of home football games in a season.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration promised the museums it would restore any lost parking funds during the coming two fiscal years to ensure that losses do not “impact the operations, safety or maintenance.” Administration officials did not say where it would get that money.

Parking receipts help fund free programs at the Science Center, the African American Museum and the surrounding Exposition Park.


A state Department of Finance analysis said the lease could cost the museums and park $78,000 to $203,000 a year unless USC-managed events generate enough parking revenue to erase the shortfall.

The Science Center board approved the deal in principle on June 25, but it must ratify a final contract for the 98-year lease to take effect.

Coliseum attorney Thomas Faughnan said the commission’s employees will be laid off Saturday and rehired Monday by USC, with employment and salary guaranteed for six months.


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