University Has A Reason To Keep Venue From Crumbling – Its Football Team
A nine-person panel has voted to turn over the running of the historic Los Angeles Coliseum to USC.
Good for them.
The vote was 8-1 and frankly, what other choice did they have in the matter? The Coliseum – site of two Olympics, the first Super Bowl, the Pope home of two NFL teams, at one time two college teams, and even the Dodgers – is a shell of its former self.
And a crumbling shell, at that.
By handing over the keys to the gate at the famous peristyle, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission may have saved the very structure it was supposed to preserve. By getting out of it.
The Coliseum has been controlled by an odd combination of the city, county and state governments. And if you think one government owning a sports facility sounds troubling, imagine three governments being involved in it. Management of the Coliseum was so poor that three recent former managers, two rave concert promoters and a contractor are all up against corruption charges from a financial scandal. By the end of June, the Coliseum will have just $15,375 in its reserves – hopefully you have more than that in your bank account – at which time it is expected to have an operating loss of $302,000 for the fiscal year.
It has no hope of making $60 million in renovations that were part of a 2008 deal with USC.
And the Coliseum needs renovations. If you walk around the outside of it, particularly the west end zone and look up, you can see cracked and missing pieces of concrete. The tunnel that leads the the USC locker room is damp and has similar issues. You feel like putting your hands over your head thinking a chunk of concrete might fall on you. Good thing the football players wear helmets.
The place is named after the original Coliseum in Rome, but that is the one that is supposed to be crumbling, not one that is still in use today.
If the board’s recommendation gets passed – there are still politics involved – then it could well wind up saving the stadium. Because without any money for improvements, it would eventually have to be abandoned.
USC will pour $70 million into improvements. This money would not be spent not just structurally, but also to fix leaky bathrooms, improve the locker rooms (well at least the one for the home team) and concession areas, which anyone who has ever been there can tell you are too small and which the workers will say are too cramped, hampering service.
USC would make the stadium nice and keep it that way. It has all the incentive it needs to do so: It’s the home for its football team (the campus is right across the street). It needs a first-rate facility to compete withe other schools for top recruits and it wants to keep its well-heeled alumni happy and comfortable.
Sure, it’s a one-sided deal. USC wants naming rights, control of the parking lots and the Sports Arena, which is just steps from the peristyle. USC is likely to tear down that eyesore, by the way. That is if it doesn’t fall down by itself first.
But USC’s management would ensure the area’s success for, well, the next 100 years if it gets its way. It should really work out a deal to only take over the parking lots when it uses them, on game days. The rest of the time the revenue can go to the surrounding museums.
But without USC, the Coliseum likely cannot survive. And an LA landmark would soon be in more ruins than its namesake in Rome.