Board approves Coliseum lease

After a public hearing on Tuesday morning, the California Science Center Board of Directors voted unanimously to approve lease agreement terms that should pave the way for USC to oversee management of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

The vote had been delayed earlier this month after opposition centered on the fact the new lease would allow USC to control the parking revenue in Exposition Park, which includes the Coliseum, the Sports Arena and multiple museums. Under the previous lease with the Coliseum Commission, those funds helped to support the museums, which protested that the new deal would hurt its revenue and discourage the public from visiting the museums on football game days.

The current USC lease agreement with the Coliseum Commission allows USC to utilize all the parking spaces in Exposition Park on football game days, minus roughly 1,000 spots saved for museum visitors. USC can also use those parking spots for three university-related events per year, other than football games.

A compromise was reached Tuesday with the museums receiving more parking and revenue than had been originally proposed. The approved terms will now be added to the Coliseum lease contract and a final approval vote will be needed.

The stewardship of the stadium, the only venue to host two Olympic Games, will transfer from the Coliseum Commission to USC based on several contract items that were not met by the Commission in recent years. USC has been playing in the Coliseum since 1923 and will look to refurbish and make improvements to the storied venue.

Here are the key points of the proposed lease contract for USC:

• USC will sign a 99-year lease to manage the Coliseum and will pay $1 million per year in rent to the state of California.

• USC will put approximately $100 million into improvements over the first half of the contract, with $70 million coming in the first 10 years.

• USC has the right to develop the Sports Arena property.

The university has expressed an interest in putting a soccer stadium at the site and there has been an environmental impact report completed, but right now there is no confirmation on how the site will be used.

Among the suggested improvements that have been discussed for the Coliseum are new exterior paint, new seats and suite boxes. USC will also have the right to sell a title sponsor for the facility.