Saturday, December 15, 2007

Coliseum Commission Screws Up As Usual On SC

It is not at all surprising that the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission is screwing up once again as it tries to fashion a contract that will keep USC playing football at the stadium. Could we expect less with the likes of City Councilman Bernard Parks as its president?

Once again, we learn in the report by Sam Farmer in the L.A. Times yesterday that the commission has offered a contract to USC that neither cedes control of the stadium to the school, nor guarantees $100 million in desperately needed renovations.

This is the kind of stalling I used to see in 20 years of covering the commission, and it shows that the recent expressed wishes of Times columnist Bill Dwyre for a deal that would give USC much of what it wanted but retain ultimate control for the Coliseum Commission were not realistic.

During the time I covered the commission, the stubbornness and lawyer-advised stupidity of the tripartite body of city, county and state managed to lose the Raiders professional football franchise, just as it had lost so many other teams there and at the adjacent Sports Arena down through the years. At the same time, the commission failed to close several renovation deals.

The only time any sizable work was done on the Coliseum was after the 1994 Northridge earthquake when the stadium was severely damaged and the federal government came in and paid for more than $100 million of repairs.

Now, under Parks, like former presidents Richard Riordan and Alexander Hagen, the commission is blowing it once again, holding out for its bureaucratic perks rather than seeing to it that USC is done justice, and that the stadium is renovated.

USC, in exchange for control, would pay for the renovations. The commission has no other financial resources with which to do so, and its continuing hopes for the return of the National Football League to the Colisium, are very dim indeed. Any rational group of public officials would have given up on the NFL years ago.

Hoping that the commission will be able to reverse course and correct its own long record of fouling everything up, is about as realistic as to hope that under Bud Selig and players union chief Don Fehr, organized baseball will clean up its act, and put its steriod age in the past.

Now, if Mark Ridley-Thomas defeats Parks in next June's primary election for the open seat on the Board of Supervisors, the makeup of the commission might be altered for the better. But by that time. USC might well be forced to play elsewhere.

The Times, as usual, is being too understanding of incompetence. It needs to kick these commissioners in the rear, and keep kicking until they settle with USC on its terms.

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