USC to leave Coliseum, play at Rose Bowl?!

USC says it may move its home games from the Coliseum to the Rose Bowl starting next season, due to a breakdown in negotiations with Coliseum management. Scott Wolf says this announcement, particularly in light of its timing the week before the UCLA game, "really smells like a negotiating ploy by USC to pressure the Coliseum into agreeing to its demands," which Wolf suspects involve not just "improvements" but "revenue-sharing plans (like luxury suites)." Here’s how USC’s top lawyer, senior vice president for administration Todd Dickey, characterizes the university’s demands:

"Our first choice is to play at the Coliseum. However, the Coliseum needs some significant improvements. The sound system is barely audible, the video system is failing, the bathrooms need upgrades, the entrances, the seats, the lighting, just about everything needs work."

Dickey says USC "has offered to make those improvements," but the university doesn’t want to "just to hand the money over to the Coliseum Commission" — it wants to "actually operate the facility." That, naturally, is the sticking point. The quasi-public Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission doesn’t want to hand over the keys of the kingdom to those high-falutin’ University of Spoiled Children snobs. [/sarcasm] The L.A. Times opines: "some political observers have suggested that commissioners would like to avoid making themselves superfluous." You think?

The Rose Bowl is a neat and historic venue (of course, so is the Coliseum!), and this would be a return to tradition of the Trojans and Bruins sharing the same home stadium (the Bruins were at the Coliseum from 1928 through 1981), and perhaps both wearing their home jerseys when they square off each season. But it would stink for USC students. The walk to the nearby Coliseum — kicking that flagpole for good luck on the way, and then walking past the rose garden, and past the local Mexican food vendors selling churros and such — is a memorable aspect of football Saturdays at ‘SC. Braving traffic on the 110 to Pasadena would be far less romantic, and far more inconvenient.

And of course, it would stink for the L.A. economy, too, from hotels and restaurants on down to those food vendors I mentioned, not to mention the locals who charge obscene prices for parking near the stadium. As a result, Mayor Villaraigosa is raising a ruckus, pontifficating about how he is "absolutely committed" to maintaining the status quo: "USC football is one of the most important economic engines in South Los Angeles and the Mayor has no interest in seeing those jobs leave for Pasadena." I’m not sure whether the Mayor’s "interests" matter for present purposes, except perhaps to get the Trojans some bad press from Telemundo, but I suppose he might be able to pressure the Coliseum Commission to make USC happy. [UPDATE: Boi From Troy, who, as an Angeleno, has far better knowledge than I of the strange quasi-governmental structures they have out there, points out that Mayor Villaraigosa "matters because he directly appoints 2 of 9 Coliseum Commission members." Well then! I stand corrected. But my error was totally worth it for the Mirthala Salinas joke.]

In any event, Pete Carroll isn’t concerned about a possible move to the Rose Bowl. "It’s kind of been our second home since we’ve been here," he says. Heh. Indeed.

Some players, however, aren’t taking the news so well. The Coliseum is "my home," said linebacker Keith Rivers. "I wouldn’t want to change that." Added offensive linesman Jeff Byers: "[You can take our lives but] you can’t take away the Coliseum. [I AM WILLIAM WALLACE!!]"

I’ll just say this. If, heaven forbid, USC loses to UCLA on Saturday, it almost certainly won’t be because the players were distracted by this news. But no one will be able to prove that that wasn’t a contributing factor, and as a result, people will talk about it, and they’ll wonder, and they’ll gripe. The university will take a lot of heat for its ridiculously poor (well-calculated, no doubt, but in the grand scheme of things, poor) timing here. And rightfully so.

Of course, there’s a simple way to avoid that problem: BEAT THE BRUINS!!!

P.S. On the bright side, a move to the Rose Bowl would mean USC students wouldn’t have to deal with being physically assaulted by Coliseum rent-a-cops.

P.P.S. Also, a doubleheader at the Rose Bowl next November 8 — Oregon State @ UCLA, then Cal @ USC — would be way fun. Er, except for the hellacious traffic, that is.

21 Responses to “USC to leave Coliseum, play at Rose Bowl?!”

  1. Becky says:

    I remember Mr. Dickey. I think I tore him a new one for not following USC’s sexual harassment policy in the newspaper I ran. He’s a handsome bloke. I’d like to see USC stay at the Colliseum. Let those rich namby pamby UCLA wimps keep their Rose Bowl. I wanna see my boys play in the ghetto!

    Plus, it really is a boon to the local community.

  2. Sandy Underpants says:

    It would be interesting for a season, but I don’t think the schedules are set up to handle USC and UCLA home games on the same Saturday, as the schedules (for the next few years) are already made.

  3. Angrier and Angrier says:

    With the exception of the occasional “24” episode being taped there, it appears that the only ones paying rent to the place is USC. Doesn’t sound like the commission is in any sort of position to negotiate.

  4. Drive-By Media says:

    The Rose Bowl is a much nicer venue than the Coliseum plus there isn’t a bad seat in the house. I wish this would happen, but it won’t.

  5. dcl says:

    Flag pole not light pole you idiot! what kind of God Damn USC fan are you!?! Clearly you went to ND too long!! Clearly you never were really a USC fan and have been an ND fan all along!! We all know it’s true so why don’t you admit it!! Damn bruins… /sarcasm

    Though seriously, it is a flag pole.

  6. Boifromtroy says:

    The Mayor matters because he directly appoints 2 of 9 Coliseum Commission Members!

  7. Brendan Loy says:

    LOL dcl, thanks – I fixed it.

    Boi – good to know! But can he fire his appointees?

  8. Andrew says:

    USC needs to contol its own athletic facilities — especially for the part of its athletics program that provides the vast majority of the revenue for the school. Leaving the Coliseum would obviously suck for USC students, alumni, and fans, but the break would devastate the city and the Coliseum commission far more. Remember that list of the most valuable college football teams? USC can’t rise much further up that list without being able to control its own revenue destiny at the facility where it plays its games.

    USC and fUTLA both used to play in the LA Coliseum, so both playing in the Rose Bowl wouldn’t be much of a shock from that standpoint. However, it wouldn’t last long; I guarantee that USC would seek a long-term solution — perhaps partnering with the NFL to build a stadium somewhere and force the Coliseum commission’s hand once and for all.

  9. dcl says:

    well the Coliseum, as cool as it is, is a hole. So is the Rose Bowl, but that’s a separate matter. Both stadiums need major renovations… Ultimately, USC might be better served, as Andrew noted, by building their own stadium – or perhaps they could purchase the Coliseum and rehab the **** out of it. I think USC probably owns the land needed to build a stadium of their own but it might take knocking down a good bit of the current capital investment to do so and I don’t think students would look too fondly on the loss of, say, the parking center.

    The tradition of the Coliseum is also really quite awesome… But it needs a lot of work and if the commission is going to be a bunch of asshats… well time to play hard ball… Certainly a large portion of why an NFL team can’t make it in LA is because of serious stadium suckage. Neither the Coliseum nor the Rose Bowl have luxury suites in the traditional sense. And luxury suites are cash cows they are where a massive percentage of cash comes from for most NFL teams. So even in a market as big as LA, it is hard to make the money off the team you could be making in a smaller market if you don’t have the boxes. Result = NFL teams don’t stay long. That and both USC and UCLA need new stadiums, or at minimum seriously renovated stadiums.

  10. texasyank says:

    The Coliseum Commission, in my lifetime, has driven off the Lakers, Kings, Rams, and Raiders, plus UCLA football and USC basketball (albeit that last one was a long time due).

    It was said that when one high-ranking Laker official, feeling jerked around by a CC seat warmer, broached the possibility of moving the Lakers to a new venue, and got this as a response (and I quote): “Har dee har-har.”

    The result was the Forum, and ultimately Staples, a mere few miles from the Sports Center, and everything a rebuilt Sports Center could have been. Har dee har-har, indeed.

    Granted, Al Davis is nobody’s hero, and moving the Raiders from Oakland was a huge mistake. But the CC did lure Davis to LA with the promise of refurbishments and luxury boxes. It delivered on nothing, and when the Raiders complained, the response was, “Fine. Sue us. See you in court for the next ten years.”

    The result: your new Oakland Raiders.

    The Coliseum is a venue of historic proportions. If the Commission won’t do right by the place, it should hand the keys over to someone who will.

  11. Sandy Underpants says:

    I really don’t get what is wrong with the coliseum. I was going there for Raider games when I was in grade school and of course Trojan games, and Metallica concerts, and the XFL and when the Raiders went to the AFC championship a few years ago I went up there and what the heck is the difference? A football stadium isn’t suppose to be luxurious or fancy. The only thing I could tell from Oklands stadium was that they had a bar connected to the season ticket holders section or something, that was kinda cool, but I go to the games for the game, not to eat dinner or watch something else on television in a corporate box.

  12. Boifromtroy says:

    MAV’s appointees aren’t the problem on the Coliseum Commission. Add 2+3 and you have a majority… Now, who gets three appointments to come and save the day?!?

  13. dcl says:

    Yes, but the corporate boxes at a place like, say, FedEx Field for the Redskins, makes the majority of their ticket sales revenues from luxury suites. It is a show, and cash is king. if you can make more with sky boxes than without, you’ve got to have sky boxes.

  14. Sandy Underpants says:

    I always wondered what kind of douchewad spends a zillion dollars on a sky box a million miles from the field. Aside from the fact that you can’t see crap going on without binoculors it’s like you’re not even at the damn game. The game is about the A-hole in front of you that’s so drunk and obnoxious and the hot chicks that walk up and down the aisles all game long that are too stupid to ever find their seats, and the peanut guy you’re waiting to nail some poor bastard in the face with a bag of peanuts he’s throwing 40 feet away from him.

  15. Marc says:

    its about status.

  16. uscroger says:

    On an email recently received by BoiFromTroy (the original, that is):

    Scott invited you to join the Facebook group “Keep USC football at the

    Coliseum!”.Scott says, “Because we should ONLY play at the Rose Bowl on January

    1st!”.To see more details and confirm this group invitation, follow the link

    below:http://usc.facebook.com/n/?group.php&gid=6234979057Thanks,The Facebook Team

    So get there and sign up.

  17. David K. says:

    What about when you play there for UCLA home games though?

  18. Wobbly H says:

    Fair point, Davie. Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, though, does it?

  19. Andrew says:

    The following is from an alumni email I just received:

    November 28, 2007

    Dear Fellow Alumni:

    It gives me no pleasure to write a letter of this kind, but there are issues facing our university which you need to understand. The University of Southern California has been negotiating diligently for months, trying to renew USC’s lease with the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, and trying to get guarantees that USC’s football team and fans can enjoy home games in a completely renovated and improved stadium.

    Unfortunately, talks are at an impasse, and right now we have no lease for the Coliseum next year. As a precaution, USC has negotiated a lease with the Rose Bowl to ensure that we have an acceptable stadium in which to play our home football games for the foreseeable future. But this arrangement is not what we want. We want our football program to remain at the Coliseum. And we want the Coliseum Commission-our “landlords” who manage the stadium-to begin the long overdue rehabilitation of the Coliseum.

    You all know the many things which need attention:

    Complete replacement of concession facilities to afford modern food and beverage services like those offered at all major stadiums.

    Replacement of, and additions to, the currently inadequate restroom facilities.

    All new, state-of-the-art video and score boards.

    Replacement of the grossly inadequate sound system.

    Improved access through renovated and replaced stairs, elevators and escalators.

    Repair of crumbling concrete stairs, walkways and infrastructure.

    Replacement of all seats.

    Reconfiguration of entry gates in order to move fans in and out of the stadium safely and efficiently.

    This is not just about people’s comfort and enjoyment; it’s about the long-term viability of the structure. It’s old and worn out. And it is not being used to its fullest potential by the wider community.

    USC has been waiting-I believe patiently-ten years for the Commission to do this, but they have not taken the necessary steps, and they will not promise to do so anytime soon. For a decade the nine-member Coliseum Commission has hoped to attract an NFL franchise to the stadium. Their plan has been that the NFL would pay for renovations. There was a clear message from the NFL last summer stating that “notwithstanding all of our best efforts to identify a mutually acceptable solution, we have determined that the Coliseum renovation project, as currently contemplated, would create significant economic risks for the NFL such that we are not prepared to move forward with the project at this time.”

    The Coliseum Commission asked USC to submit a proposal. So we did. We made to them what I think is an amazing offer. USC offered to spend $100 million to repair and improve the stadium on a ten-year plan, phasing in renovations each year. In return, we requested a master lease that would allow us to play football in the Coliseum for many years. We asked to participate in making decisions regarding the Coliseum and to be given opportunities that would allow us to offset our outlay of money by controlling more of the stadium’s revenues. And we’d help make sure the Coliseum has a full life all year round, with entertainment and sporting events, both large and small, not just the six home games for the USC football team.

    But the Coliseum Commission rejected our offer.

    Our team deserves a great stadium. So do our fans. So do the people of Los Angeles.

    The Coliseum Commission is made up of representatives from the city, the county, and the state. They need to know how you feel about this. I believe that our voices will be heard if we work through our elected officials. I urge you to e-mail, fax, or phone the appropriate official asking them to:

    Let USC direct and fund the Coliseum’s refurbishment in partnership with the city, the county, and the state.

    Let USC, in collaboration with the Coliseum Commission, determine and perform vital repairs while ensuring steady income to offset expenses and upkeep.

    Let USC be more than a tenant. (USC already brings in 60 percent of the Commission’s revenue and that has been the only steady tenant for 80 years! ) We seek to be a key player in the preservation and enhancement of this great civic treasure and historic landmark. Remind them that for 80 years USC has stayed while other teams have gone, and that our home games spark spending in the neighborhood each fall to the tune of approximately $5 million. And that, in total, USC contributes $4 billion to the local economy each year.

    If you’d like to join me in taking action, click here for the names of the people to contact.

    Your support and commitment to the University of Southern California is invaluable. Together, let’s continue to work hard to keep the USC football program in our beloved Coliseum.

    Thank you for caring about this issue and for expressing your concerns.

    Sincerely,

    Michael L. Garrett ’67

    Director of Athletics

    University of Southern California

  20. Mad Max, Esquire says:

    Sandy-

    Hate to tell you, but the Oakland Coliseum is a hole, too. Next time you should travel across the bay to AT&T Park. THAT is the kind of facility USC should be playing at (configured for football, of course).