The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum fired its opening volley in the local battle for an NFL team Wednesday when officials said they were "very close" to completing a 10-year agreement worth a guaranteed $2.1 million annually with concessionaire Service America Corp., providing the revenue necessary for the financing and building of 41 luxury boxes.
Those boxes would turn the Coliseum into an attractive site for potential NFL expansion owners or owners of existing teams, the officials said. Revenues from those boxes are among the few income sources among NFL owners that are not shared.
One of the reasons the Raiders left town is that the Coliseum is the only NFL facility with no such boxes.
"Service America is very anxious to get this moving along," Patrick Lynch, Coliseum general manager, told the Coliseum Commission at a public meeting.
Officials estimate that if the new agreement goes into effect on Oct. 1 as scheduled, the boxes could be built next summer and be ready for the 1996 season. While that would be too soon for the awarding and building of an expansion team, an existing team could benefit immediately.
"Absolutely, we could get a team that could start playing here next season ," said Sheldon Sloan, a Coliseum commissioner.
The potential agreement was acknowledged one day after Pasadena city officials approved in concept a multimillion-dollar Rose Bowl overhaul while hiring a professional negotiator to promote the city to the NFL.
The Commission also approved $60,000 for a marketing package intended to dispel notions of the Coliseum as an unattractive venue.
Using both a video and brochure, the package would impart the message that the problems suffered during Raider games were endemic to the Raiders. It would emphasize the success of USC football games and other events.
Also on Wednesday, the NFL announced that it had postponed Friday's owners' meeting until July 21 because the finance committee was not prepared to advise owners on the Raiders' move to Oakland.
While several sources among the owners assured that the move will be approved, it is still unknown how much Raider owner Al Davis will be charged in relocation fees. The amount is a delicate issue because Davis is expected to refuse to pay it, forcing litigation that would not affect the move but would further drain owners' wallets.