Statement on L.A. Memorial Coliseum/USC Agreement

My colleagues on the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission and I are very pleased that, after nearly two years of discussions and negotiations and after numerous public meetings and input from the public, all of the agreements between the University of Southern California (USC), the Coliseum Commission and the Board of Directors of Exposition Park/California Science Center are now approved.

The approval actions on September 4 by the Board of Directors, under the leadership of Board Chair Fabian Wesson, now will allow one of the most iconic structures in Los Angeles – the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum – to be upgraded and maintained during its upcoming centennial decade that begins this fall – and for decades thereafter – under the direct stewardship of the one organization that has been its sole continuous tenant since its opening in 1923 – USC.

The Coliseum Commission made its decision to transfer management responsibilities of the Coliseum and Sports Arena to USC for many reasons. But, first and foremost, the Coliseum will now benefit from two commitments made by USC President Max Nikias and the USC Board of Trustees: To invest approximately $70 million plus of USC funding into the Coliseum for repairs and enhancements before the centennial celebration of the Coliseum in 2021-2023; and even more importantly, to provide annual funding from USC resources as needed to maintain the Coliseum’s physical condition at all times for the remainder of the University’s lease with the Commission (through December 31, 2054) at the same standard used on the University Park campus.

The Coliseum is owned by the public, but it is important to note that, under the terms of the Joint Powers Authority Agreement between the State, the County and the City of LA, no public tax funds will be used to support the operations of the Coliseum and Sports Arena.

As the number of events at the Coliseum and Sports Arena – other than USC games – have decreased in the past 15 years due to the increased availability of other venues and due to other economic considerations, the financial challenges in operating and maintaining the Coliseum and sports Arena have been obvious and the current condition of the building is evident.

In addition to the collaborative efforts of Fabian Wesson and the other members of the Board of Directors, my colleagues and I are grateful for the support provided by the administration of Governor Jerry Brown through Cabinet Secretaries Anna Caballero and John Laird, by State Senator Rod Wright and Assemblymember Reginald Jones-Sawyer on behalf of the Legislative Black Caucus, by State Senator Kevin deLeon, chair of the State Senate Appropriations Committee, and by the many civic leaders and hundreds of members of the general public who came forward to voice their views during the many public sessions held by the Coliseum Commission and by the Board of Directors.

My colleagues and I are particularly pleased that, as called for in the Coliseum Commission’s agreement with USC, the university has completed its negotiations with the Board of Directors to ensure that the other important activities and operations in Exposition Park, including three State and County museums, the City EXPO Center, and the playfields and park areas along Vermont Avenue will be enhanced by USC’s operation of the Coliseum.

The Coliseum Commission has faced several other challenges in the past several years and its work in resolving those challenges is continuing. The Coliseum Commission – as the public agency representing the tripartite interests of the State, the County and the City – will continue to exist and oversee USC’s operations. However, the Commission will now be recommending to the State, the County and the City that the membership structure of the Commission be modified and reduced beginning in 2014.

We look forward to having the Opening Ceremonies of the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in the Coliseum two summers from now and we hope that this renaissance of the Coliseum under USC leadership will also bolster the pending proposal of Los Angeles to the U.S. Olympic Committee to serve as the U.S. candidate to host the 2024 Summer Olympics.

I want to thank USC for its commitment to our local community. On behalf of my colleagues, we look forward to the preservation and improvement of this iconic building for generations of Southern Californians to enjoy!