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Coliseum deal a Trojan horse?

Some readers say the Coliseum-USC deal isn't so bad.

June 29, 2013
  • The deal giving USC a 98-year lease for the L.A. Memorial Coliseum has proved controversial.
The deal giving USC a 98-year lease for the L.A. Memorial Coliseum has proved… (Los Angeles Times )

Up until Wednesday — when The Times last published letters on the deal giving USC control over the taxpayer-owned Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the next 98 years — almost all the readers who had sent us missives on the topic weren't happy with the arrangement. They decried the fact that the Coliseum Commission negotiated the deal in secret, that nearby properties such as the California Science Center might suffer, and that a private university stood to benefit financially with a public resource.

"USC, you'll remember, is a wealthy institution," wrote Jeff Greenberg in a letter published Wednesday.

But since Wednesday, we've received a steady stream of letters defending USC against charges that it is making off with public property for virtually nothing in return. Most say that USC deserves a chance to run the stadium in lieu of the scandal-plagued Coliseum Commission; a few make the case that the deal is good for taxpayers.

Here is a selection of those letters.

— Paul Thornton, letters editor

Anaheim resident Paul Bostwick says what's good for USC is good for Los Angeles: "I am amazed at the alarmism over this deal.

"As for the concern that the public won't benefit, when has the Coliseum ever made money for the taxpayers? What the taxpayers will get is an operator that actually cares about this landmark. USC will pay for the Coliseum's upkeep and also spend $100 million on long-term renovations.

"Also consider what USC has done to improve the area around its campus and the Coliseum. A once-dreary neighborhood has been revived.

"Critics who say the deal will have an adverse financial impact on the adjacent California Science Center because USC will take over parking for major events need to realize that next year, USC's football team will play only seven home games. Parking at the Science Center will be impacted perhaps only 20 days a year.

"Government needs to get out of the way for progress at the Coliseum."

Donald Desfor of Malibu sees the deal as a private-sector solution:

"The Times' coverage of the Coliseum deal seems slanted. It is critical of a private university running the publicly owned Coliseum and focuses less on how the public was effectively cheated by the government authority that runs it.

"A private institution will now benefit the public better than the government — not uncommon in education, health, research and the arts."

Steve Owen of San Diego isn't sorry to see the Coliseum Commission lose power:

"I am happy that USC will control the Coliseum. Finally there will be some sense of ownership and responsibility for this remarkable property, and I'm sure USC will do everything necessary to make it look fabulous.

"This will be much better than the three-ring circus we have with the Coliseum Commission, one of the most incompetent government agencies ever assembled. I hope it will eventually be put out to pasture."

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