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Los Angeles County Supervisor Yvonne Braithwaite Burke urged officials at USC to sign a 50-year lease agreement that the state has proposed to keep the football team playing their home games at the Los Angeles Coliseum during an exclusive interview with the Sentinel.
According to Burke who sits on the Coliseum Commission, USC was requiring a 75-year lease agreement before the two sides reached an impasse last week.
“We don’t have 75 years. The most we can get, if we pay $2 million a year is 50 years because we don’t have a lease with the state. We can only do what the state allows us to do,” Burke told the Sentinel.
To give some background, she said that the Commission had been paying $80,000 during the first 50 years of the lease. But now that the lease is over and the property value has increased over time, the rent amount would increase to $2 million unless negotiations come to a lower amount.
She added that Governor Arnold Schwarzneggar has stepped into negotiations and has imposed a two-week deadline to resolve the rent issue.
As a sidenote, Burke confirmed reports that the Commission has received threats from angry citizens. She cited personally 300 letters and hundred of emails that she called abusive and insulting.
Meanwhile, Sen. Mark Ridley-Thomas, a graduate of USC, offered a proposal during a closed door meeting this week that he hopes would keep the USC football team playing in at the antiquated Coliseum after the school threatened to move to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.
Ridley-Thomas (D-Los Angeles) proposed that the California State Legislature examine whether to dissolve or restructure the stadiums governing body Coliseum Commission to give USC control of the venue.
The Coliseum Commission, which is made of state and local officials, has been blamed for the city losing the Rams and then the Raiders as NFL tenants and also for preventing the NFL from bring another team to the site.
Last week, USC had offered to spend $100 million renovating the Coliseum in exchange for a master lease that would allow the school to operate the historical landmark, which has been host to two Olympic Games. The commission did not accept the proposal and have been reluctant to surrender control.
Meanwhile USC, which has played its home football games at the Coliseum since 1923, then met with officials of the Rose Bowl, but was urged to find a resolution with the Coliseum before it would decide on its fate. UCLA would have the ultimate decision on if USC would be allowed to share the Rose Bowl with them.
Ridley-Thomas plans to introduce a bill in January that would look at new ways to govern the Coliseum and would also allow for money generated by the Coliseum to be used to redevelop the surrounding area.
It would prove the Coliseum operators with the authority to tap about $53.7 million combined from property taxes, parking and lease revenue to revitalize the neighborhoods around the Exposition Park stadium.
“For the past 80 years, its image has helped define this community and is a tremendous source of pride for not just Trojan fans, but residents of South Los Angeles and beyond,” Ridley-Thomas said.