Having owned the football field at the Coliseum — and football in general in Los Angeles — in the fall for nearly nine decades, it’s only fitting, then, that the school will now be responsible for the year-round operations of the historic stadium.
By a vote of 8-1 Monday, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission approved a lease agreement that gives USC control over day-to-day operations of the Coliseum, which was completed in 1923 and has been the Trojans’ football home since that first year, as well as the nearby Sports Arena, which was the home of USC basketball programs until they moved to the Galen Center a few years ago. Under the terms of the agreement, the commission will continue to oversee both of the buildings.
The initial lease agreement is for 20 years, with five renewals built in that could extend the agreement out to 2054 if all are exercised. USC will likely have no issue with exercising their renewal rights; the school has requested that the deal run through the year 2111.
As part of the day-to-operations, USC will control the scheduling of football and non-football events at the Coliseum, as well as take the lead on potentially lucrative naming rights for the stadium. In exchange for taking control of the Coliseum’s revenue, the Los Angeles Times reports, USC will spend $70 million upgrading the facility as part of the agreement.
“We’re now in a position to restore this wonderful venue to its past glory,” Tom Sayles, USC senior vice president for university relations, told the Times.
Another provision of the agreement between the commission and the school is allowing temporary use of the Coliseum for an NFL team if necessary. As such a move would provide additional revenue to the Coliseum in general and USC specifically, and as the Trojans shared the Coliseum with the then-Los Angeles Raiders from 1982-1994, and with the then-Los Angeles Rams from 1946-1979, it’s a no-brainer provision for the school.
The controversial agreement, which came after months of controversy involving corruption charges facing a handful of people connected to the venue, is not without its dissenters, chief among them the lone nay vote from the commission.
“Most of it is exclusively to benefit the university,” Coliseum commissioner and L.A. City Councilman Bernard Parks said. “We should have negotiated this with more interest to the community, and in the interest of the taxpayers.”