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Keeping the Coliseum Public

September 27, 1987

There is a good and sound tradition in America that public lands and public buildings belong to the citizens. Public officials, both elected and appointed, who serve on commissions and boards should keep in mind that they are stewards for the present generation and for future generations.

The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum was built in 1923 as a living memorial to the soldiers who fought in World War I, while the Sports Arena was built as a memorial to those who served in World War II and the Korean conflict. To turn these facilities over to private enterprise, as has been proposed, is basically wrong.

These buildings were dedicated for public use, with the Coliseum first being used for the 1932 Olympic Games. Many historic religious, patriotic and civic events have occurred there.

Among the famous events that have taken place there are the 1984 Olympics, the 1959 World Series, the nomination acceptance speed of President John F. Kennedy, the traditional USC-Notre Dame and USC-UCLA football games and the 1963 Billy Graham Crusade which broke all attendance records with 134,234 in attendance.

Historic individuals such as Gen. George Patton, Gen. Jimmy Doolittle, and even President Franklin D. Roosevelt have appeared there.

The essence of a great community is providing great facilities so that people have the "right to assemble, the right to free speech." These basic constitutional rights are put into effect in the Coliseum and Sports Arena.

Just because there has been a dispute with Al Davis and the Raiders is no reason to destroy the institution itself. It is the best stadium in America and there is virtually no bad seat. I saw the 1932 Olympics from the top row near the Coliseum torch. I paid 50 cents but I could see every exciting moment.

What we must do is reaffirm our commitment to the public as elected officials. We are here for a short time and we should preserve what is good and improve upon it, not destroy and abandon public facilities.

If the Coliseum and Sports Arena are turned over to private enterprise, then why not Descanso Gardens, the Arboretum, the Hollywood Bowl, the Music Center and other cultural and recreational facilities of the County of Los Angeles?

Let us not give in to the temptations of a "quick fix," but let us work together to make these great facilities even better in service to the people of Los Angeles County.

KENNETH HAHN

Supervisor

Second District

Los Angeles

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