The head of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission spoke favorably of having a second NFL team play at the publicly owned stadium but stopped short of making a decision Thursday.
USC, which manages the stadium, has requested that the commission allow two teams to play at the stadium. Under a 2013 lease agreement, USC is prohibited from having more than one NFL team play there.
That situation became an issue when the NFL allowed the Rams to move to L.A. and gave the option to the San Diego Chargers to also move, possibly as soon as this coming season. A proposed Inglewood stadium will not be ready until 2019.
“We’ve waited a long time to have NFL football return to Los Angeles,” said county Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who also chairs the commission. “And whatever we can do to celebrate it, in the proper way, it’s fine by me.”
Before going behind closed doors to discuss USC’s proposal, a commission lawyer said the panel wanted to provide instruction to its negotiators on price and terms of payment.
The ban on a second NFL team playing at the Coliseum was added because of fear about disruptions to the museums that surround the Coliseum. Three years ago, advocates for the California Science Center, the California African American Museum and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County objected to having a lot of events at the stadium.
In 2013, James Gilson, vice president of the fundraising arm of the Natural History Museum, said that weekends are a busy time. “We do not want so many large events” that guests avoid the museum “because on too many days, it’s just a hassle.”
Representatives of the Natural History and African American Museums did not return phone calls seeking comment on the matter late Thursday.
The science museum board chairwoman, Fabian Wesson, said her panel would consider a second NFL team. “We have only recently begun discussions and look forward to working with USC, the NFL, the other entities within Exposition Park and the surrounding community as a proposal is developed for consideration by the state Science Center board,” she said in a statement.
The Science Center board, whose members are appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown, must sign off on any lease agreement allowing a second team.
The state is scheduling two community meetings in February to receive input on a second team.
William Chadwick, who sits on the Coliseum Commission and Science Center board, said he wants to know if adding one or two NFL teams would require a review under the California Environmental Quality Act, such as studying more car pollution in the area. If required, it might not be done in time for the fall football season.
Chadwick said the government’s lease with USC should be renegotiated to get a better deal for taxpayers in light of the expected windfall in cash.
“In my opinion, it shouldn’t all go to USC,” Chadwick said of new revenue. “There should be more for the stakeholders ... to make the park a better place for the kids in the neighborhood.”
A 1st Amendment group, Californians Aware, earlier Thursday objected to a statement by Ridley-Thomas’ office that the commission would “take up a proposal to amend the Coliseum’s lease” because no such measure was outlined in the posted agenda.
Before he went into the closed session, Ridley-Thomas said the commission was not making a decision or engaged in negotiations, but was planning “to set up the negotiating team, and the like, to take it from there.”