The Los Angeles Coliseum Commission labored for nearly four hours in a special meeting Wednesday trying to resolve the imbroglio over a proposed seating reconfiguration and planned luxury suites on the stadium's rim, but after it was all over, the stalemate continued.
In a debate that often seemed to go in circles, the commission majority:
- Passed a resolution saying the commission could not go forward this year with the reconfiguration--placing retractable seats over the Olympic track and a number of the front rows. But in the same resolution, it said that it will continue discussions with the Los Angeles Raiders professional football team on the project and that if the Raiders will assume responsibility for the seating alterations, the commission might approve--with conditions.
- Approved plans submitted by the Raiders' architects for 60 luxury suites on the north rim, but at the same time made the approval contingent on agreement, which did not appear immediately likely, from the Coliseum's other major football tenant, USC.
USC, Raiders Make Condition
While this was happening, representatives of both USC and the Raiders declared that the suite construction could not go forward without the reconfiguration.
Yet commission President Alexander Haagen reiterated that there is neither the money nor the time to do the reconfiguration this year, in time for the Aug. 15 start of the football season, and for the first time even expressed great doubt that it could be done in 1988.
At the end of the meeting, it appeared that the Coliseum was back to square one, with the commission unable or unwilling to do what the Raiders and USC want on the reconfiguration, the Raiders unwilling to pursue their suspended luxury suite construction until there is agreement on the larger seating question, and the future of the Raider tenancy at the Coliseum accordingly in some doubt.
It was clear that talks of a negotiating committee, which have now been pursued for months, would go forward toward trying to reach a compromise solution. But it was also clear that the time to do the work on either the suites or the reconfiguration or both is fast vanishing.
The committee planned to meet again as early as today.
Again, there was some disagreement among factions on the prospects for a solution.
William Robertson, the labor leader and commission member who was chiefly instrumental in negotiating the deal that brought the Raiders to Los Angeles from Oakland, said he still sees a chance of an agreement to do all the work this year.
But Haagen said he does not see how the work can go forward.
During the meeting, Raider officials and architects who were present did not bother to conceal their disgust with Haagen, who they have said is trying, through frequent delays, to "obstruct" the project.
They were particularly displeased when Bill Crigger, an architect employed by Haagen in his shopping center development firm, sharply questioned the aesthetics of the suites the Raiders want to build.
Crigger insisted that the suites, to be perched on what is now the upper rows of Coliseum seats and with exposed fire escapes, "certainly look cheap and industrial" in the plans that have been submitted.
Two Raider architects responded that they had made every attempt to make the suites aesthetically pleasing and were willing to some extent to discuss the matter further as the construction progressed, if indeed it is resumed.