Wednesday, June 14, 2006

USC's Battle Plan Against the NFL

Not so fast, NFL. Any plans to take over the L.A. Memorial Coliseum will first have to be cleared with the other (professional) tenant, USC. The Trojans have called the Coliseum home for 83 years and the university is ready to deliver a block to keep its sweetheart deal. The current lease, which extends through the 2007 season, caps USC's rent per game at 8% of gross ticket revenue based on a maximum of 70,000 tickets sold. That has enabled USC to pocket nearly all the financial gain from a surge in attendance from 2001 to 2005, when home crowds rose nearly 60% to 90,812 from 57,744. "They have kind of a sweet deal," says David Israel, a member of the Coliseum Commission and former sportswriter at the Chicago Tribune and L.A. Herald Examiner. "They're a private tax-exempt program playing in a taxpayer-financed stadium." Although it would appear the Coliseum Commission could turn its back on USC and do whatever it wants, that might not be a wise idea. USC has clout, beginning with a large corps of influential alumni in Southern California business and politics. Then there is that small problem of parking around the Coliseum. USC controls 10,000 campus parking spaces, roughly half the total available for the Coliseum neighborhood. But if USC gets in the way of the Coliseum landing an NFL team, Israel promises trouble for the university, saying "it will be much more expensive for them to play in the Coliseum."

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