Councilman Parks Uses His Shrewd Negotiating Skills and Leads for a “Win-Win” for Community, USC and Football Fans.
In his last act as Coliseum Commission President, Council-member Bernard C. Parks brought the sometimes contentious, negotiations between the Commission and the University of Southern California to a successful conclusion, ensuring a deal that will keep USC Football at the historic stadium for nearly an additional half century.
The agreement is a 25-year lease with options that would extend it to 47 years, when the Coliseum’s lease with the state—which owns the stadium along with the city and county—runs out.
The Coliseum Commission will take on several improvement projects, including new sound and lighting systems, elevators and escalators, additional restrooms and concession areas, the replacement of all seating, replacement of the field and drainage system, and new video and score boards.
“This is an important step toward a newly-reinvigorated and mutually-supportive relationship between USC and the Coliseum Commission. It’s good for everyone. For the Coliseum Commission, we continue to be able to fulfill our responsibility as a joint powers authority. It’s good for’ SC to have the stability of playing there for 47 years,” said Parks.
“Signing of this document is a significant step forward in USC’s effort to repair and restore the Coliseum and ensure that USC is able to continue its long football tradition at this historic facility,” said Todd R. Dickey, USC’s senior vice president for administration.
Initially, USC demanded to take control of the Coliseum, but Parks balked at the idea, insisting that is was unfair to hand a publicly-owned facility, like the Coliseum over to a private institution, like USC… “The Coliseum belongs to the people,” said Parks. “Allowing USC or any other private institution to take over the stadium would have limited the public’s access to this fine and historic venue.” Parks came to that decision partly because of concerns from his constituents, who feel USC’s ever-expanding footprint is growing past the boundaries of the university and into their neighborhoods.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger praised Parks, the other commission members and negotiators “for their success in reaching an agreement that will benefit all parties, including California’s taxpayers. This deal will help bring critically-needed funding to the state while boosting the local economy,” said Schwarzenegger. “This is fantastic news for the people of Los Angeles and all Californians.”
The agreement comes more than two months after USC officials, frustrated with the progress of talks that had gone on for more than a year, threatened to move the Trojan football games to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, where UCLA plays its home football games. The new agreement ends that threat.
The letter of intent means that USC and the commission are committed to negotiating a final lease agreement within 60 days. Such an agreement would need to be approved by USC’s Board of Trustees as well as the Coliseum Commission.
“There’s nothing that’s going to hold up getting the lease signed,” said Parks.