The public should be protected and kept informed as negotiations on a modified lease continue between the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and the University of Southern California.
Concerns over the preservation, accessibility and responsibility of the Coliseum are warranted, especially given the secretive nature in which this process has taken place.
Though the Coliseum Commission made parts of the negotiation public with the release of the term sheet this week, questioning their negotiating abilities is more than appropriate considering that it’s a group that started with the stadium on the bargaining table and, without much discussion, added the Sports Arena in a brilliant and calculated strategy to negotiate against… its own interests? Good ol’ Jack showed more savvy when he traded the prized family cow for those alluring “magic beans”.
The three members of the Commission in talks with USC have signed confidentiality agreements forbidding them from discussing the negotiations not only with the general public– but with the elected bodies they represent. This method is highly irregular and makes it seem as if there is something to hide.
In addition to the lack of transparency, most of the commission has gone into its own sloppy and disjointed version of the “hurry up” offense, rushing the transaction right down the throats of the public.
In fact, they’ve been in such a rush, they’ve moved to this point without any true public hearings on the matter, without independent financial analysis determining the value of property and without a Request for Proposals(RFP) process that would allow them to actually get compensation in the deal from the highest bidder– instead of the non-monetary good intentions that USC is offering.
And while there are talks that new USC management will contribute mightily to the Coliseum, the university also stands to gain mightily by receiving all revenue from commercial events and naming rights, with the city, county and state not seeing a cent.
There are other problems with this arrangement. There are parking needs at nearby Expo Center that need to be rectified.
But, most of all, the historic, public venue should remain public. And, the public simply shouldn’t stand for this privatization effort, which would restrict their use of the stadium to a certain number of non-commercial events a year.
Although, the commission’s negotiating committee originally put the Coliseum’s estimated value at zero, it means a great deal more to the people of Los Angeles and deserves an open process that culminates with the persons selected to manage it recognizing and appreciating its true worth.