USC To Meet With California Science Center Over Details of Coliseum Lease


Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday, USC and the California Science Center will meet again to address a parking deal that could see USC gain control of museum parking for major Coliseum events, an outcome that could severely cripple operations at the museum.

The two entities meet for the second time this summer, and though the deal they will negotiate over is revised, those representing the California Science Center say that it could stil substantially drain the CSC of resources, and that the plan is a “robbery.”

Under the new plan USC, a private university, would get parking revenue that presently is granted to the CSC, the California African American Museum and Exposition Park.

“If anyone had any sense, they’d dial 911,” Marvin Holen, the point person for the CSC’s fundraising foundation told the LATimes.

Earlier in June, state lawmakers publicly criticized the Science Center negotiators–who are independent from the fundraising committee and would serve as the Coliseum’s landlord–for drafting what the legislators called a lopsided deal in favor of Troy, one that completely shafted the museums. The Science Center board then revised the plan and since June 14, the new one has been up for discussion.

As soon as Tuesday, the Science Center’s governing board could vote to approve the parking proposal and the 98-year lease for the Coliseum, which is public property.

For USC, gaining control of the parking is a major priority. So much so that the university sent out an email campaign from Pat Haden, asking members of the Trojan Family to attend the board meeting and speak on USC’s behalf:

"So this is where you come in. Quite frankly, I need a favor from you, I need your help. We need everyone who can spare the time and energy to show up at the Science Center board meeting on Tuesday morning, June 25th, at 9 am in the Loker Conference room at the California Science Center, 700 Exposition Park Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90037. The agenda for the meeting can be found here. Parking is free if you tell the parking structure attendant you’re there for the public meeting of the Science Center board. I would greatly appreciate it if you could attend the meeting and sign up to speak (3 minute maximum) and talk about how important saving the Coliseum is to this City, and how critical it is to have adequate and affordable parking in order for the venues to survive. If public speaking isn’t your thing, it would be wonderful if you could just show up and show your support for the Board’s approval of this deal. And while you’re there, stop and see the Endeavor Space Shuttle on display, it’s quite a sight to see (but call in advance to reserve a spot, its free). I know we’ve been at this for quite some time, but we really believe that this is the final home stretch. We’re on the 5 yard line and we need your help in getting us over the goal line."

Parking at the Science Center has become such a hot commodity because of the arrival of the space shuttle Endeavor exhibit. The exhibit opened last fall, and the museum is expecting an increase from 1.4 million visitors to 2.5 million this year.

According to the LATimes, the university promises to spend at least $70 million on stadium upgrades and pay $1 million a year to the state in rent per their agreement with the Coliseum Commission. Furthermore, the State would also receive 5-percent of the proceeds from the sale of naming rights to the Coliseum. USC would get 95-percent of those proceeds and all other revenues–including those from non-football events–while the public would be guaranteed no other money.

For the Exposition Park museums, the money from parking plays a significant role in their funding. About 80-percent of the money from parking provides 11-percent of the Science Center’s state money and 5-percent of that for the African American Museum’s, according to public records.

Holen told the LATimes if the board approves the lease Tuesday, “the foundation could file a lawsuit asking the courts to invalidate it on the possible grounds that it is a ‘gift of public property’ to USC.”