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6 Entertainment Firms May Vie to Run Coliseum

September 23, 1987|KENNETH REICH | Times Staff Writer

As many as half a dozen giant entertainment conglomerates may join the bidding, promising up to $20 million in improvements, to win the right to become the private manager of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum complex, the president of one of the prospective bidding firms said Tuesday.

Irving Azoff, president of MCA Inc.'s Music Entertainment Group, said the number of bidders shows that the best minds in the business believe that the Coliseum and adjacent Sports Arena can make money, as long as improvements are undertaken at the facilities and more parking for them is provided.

Azoff said in an interview that MCA and its bidding partner, Spectacor, would be prepared to spend "at least $20 million" at the two facilities, including raising the roof and putting in "sky suites" in the Sports Arena, to make it more suitable for concerts, circuses and other events.

But, he indicated, as part of the negotiating process prior to making a bid, his firm might put pressure on the Coliseum Commission to commit funds of its own to building parking structures or obtaining more land for surface parking. Azoff noted that the commission is expecting $18 million in damages from the National Football League as early as this fall.

The MCA executive said he believes that Coliseum authorities may call for bids for a private management contract quite soon. Among other firms or groups apparently preparing to bid besides his own, he said, are Ogden Food Services, FMG (Facility Management Group), Leisure Management, Weintraub Entertainment Group and the Nederlander Organization.

"We'll see which of us are prepared to come up with $20-, $30- or $40-million investment plans," he remarked.

As Azoff made his comments, Coliseum General Manager Joel Ralph said the Coliseum stands to lose $150,000 for every Raider home game that may have to be canceled because of the current National Football League players' strike.

Ralph noted that the Raiders, who plan to continue playing in the Coliseum until their proposed stadium in Irwindale is built, and other professional franchises have vowed to resume the 1987 season with non-striking players and newly recruited ones the weekend of Oct. 4. But he said attendance is bound to be down substantially if the regular lineups are not playing.

Ralph said that recent additions to the Coliseum event schedule, before the strike was declared, had brought the Coliseum narrowly into the black for the year. But, he said, the strike could easily put it in the red again.

Azoff said MCA and Spectacor hope that even if the Raiders do move to Irwindale, another National Football League franchise might be obtained for the Coliseum.

But even if one is not, he said, a couple of multinight rock and roll concerts could bring in as much income in a year as the approximately $1.5 million the Raiders are paying.

He noted that such performers as Genesis, Madonna, David Bowie and Grateful Dead have played big stadiums in the Los Angeles area and said a private Coliseum management would surely be able to book such groups into the stadium.

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