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Coliseum lease approved

Los Angeles Coliseum
The Coliseum Commission will shift daily operation to USC in exchange for major improvements to the historic venue.

USC and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission have agreed to a lease that places the university in charge of managing the stadium while committing at least $70 million in renovations.

The commission approved the lease on May 14 by an 8 to 1 vote in open session.

The revised agreement follows the breakdown of the previous lease, signed in 2008. The commission had promised major improvements but was unable to pay for them.

The agreement is not yet final. The state needs to approve key conditions, such as giving USC control of parking lots around the stadium. USC officials said they are hoping for state approval in the near future and praised the agreement with the commission.

“We look forward to restoring the Coliseum to its former glory and ensuring its viability for many generations to come. We believe this agreement will once again make the Coliseum a proud landmark and gathering place for all Angelenos,” said Thomas S. Sayles, senior vice president for University Relations.

Commissioners praised the agreement and the university’s long-standing involvement with the Coliseum and the community.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky credited USC’s financial and volunteer investments for the “renaissance” of Exposition Park and surrounding areas.

“USC has had a very positive impact on this neighborhood and on this park,” he said, adding that the agreement follows the successful template of the Hollywood Bowl, owned by the county but managed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

L.A. County Supervisor Don Knabe called USC “a great corporate citizen,” and Coliseum Commission member Johnathan Williams described the university as an “outstanding model” whose mentoring programs, such as the Neighborhood Academic Initiative, are responsible for many kids being the first in their families to attend college.

Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge, attending as an alternate, noted that USC stayed in the neighborhood even as many other institutions left during and after the unrest of the 1960s.

“I don’t think we could find a better steward going forward than the University of Southern California,” Coliseum Commission member William Chadwick added.

Los Angeles Councilman Bernard Parks cast the dissenting vote without comment.

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