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Commission, USC are 'close'

Coliseum general manager says progress is being made on securing a lease with school and state.

January 10, 2008|Sam Farmer | Times Staff Writer

The Coliseum Commission is running a two-hurdle race -- the obstacles being unresolved leases with the state and USC -- and has yet to clear either of them.

But, after a closed-session meeting Wednesday lasting three hours, a stadium official said progress is being made on both fronts.

The commission has told the school it intends to deliver its latest version of a lease proposal by the end of the week.

"We want to keep this going," said Pat Lynch, general manager of the Coliseum. "We feel we're close. We feel both sides are giving, we're making progress, and we're going to turn this around as quickly as we can."

USC, which doesn't have a lease, is seeking a long-term deal that includes major improvements to the 84-year-old venue. In its latest offer, the school has asked for about $50 million in renovations over a five-year period, with some type of "meaningful remedy," such as the right to terminate the lease, if the agreed-upon improvements are not made in a timely fashion.

Meanwhile, the commission is negotiating its lease with the state, which was expected to be voted upon in Wednesday's meeting. There was no vote and the next scheduled meeting will not take place until Feb. 13. Lynch said the commission can call a special meeting at any time.

State officials, among them Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, devoted significant time to the issue in December and had expressed optimism their lease with the commission would be completed by now.

Although USC has temporarily cooled its efforts to strike a deal to play football at the Rose Bowl next fall, a school negotiator said those talks would again intensify unless there was movement on the Coliseum front within the next month.

"Ideally, we hoped they would have had something to vote on [Wednesday], but that didn't happen," said Kristina Raspe, USC associate senior vice president for real estate and asset management. "We're cautiously optimistic they can get something to us by the end of the week."

In a related matter, the commission allowed its foundation to invest $200,000 in the concessions on the upper level of the Coliseum.

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sam.farmer@latimes.com

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