And speaking of public agencies not disclosing stadium deal details, there’s a huge kerfuffle unfolding in Los Angeles over plans to turn over control of the publicly owned L.A. Coliseum to the private University of Southern California, and in the latest twist, three members of the public Coliseum Commission have admitted they signed a confidentiality agreement not to discuss the lease talks in public:
During the next seven months, the full commission conducted all of its deliberations on the pending Coliseum deal with USC behind closed doors.
The secrecy surrounding the lease proposal has been ammunition for critics who say the arrangement is lopsided in USC’s favor. For the next 98 years, the lease would grant the school most of the benefits of owning the stadium complex, which includes the neighboring Sports Arena, but guarantee the public little in terms of revenues from or access to the properties. A final vote on it is set for later this month by a state board that owns the Coliseum land.
On Thursday, [interim stadium general manager John] Sandbrook said the confidentiality pledge was “not on any other document communicated to the public” and the full commission never voted on it.
The upshot of the deal appears to be that USC is spending between $70 million and $150 million on renovations to the Coliseum and the adjacent L.A. Memorial Sports Arena, in exchange for all future revenues (including naming rights) from the two facilities, including the right to tear down the arena and build a soccer stadium if it wants. On the face of it, that doesn’t sound like a great deal for the city, but without a full list of all the costs and benefits to everyone from this project, it’s tough to say for sure how awful it is. Fortunately, that’s the sort of thing that should come to light during the public vetting process, so … oh wait.