the greater Los Angeles area — two National Historic Landmarks, two
venerable stadiums built at the same time 90 years ago — says a lot
about the role of politics and leadership in determining the fate of our
communities and institutions.
the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum are aging structures, relics of a
bygone era in many ways, facing unprecedented new challenges.
construction of a brand new state-of-the-art stadium to house two
National Football League teams either in the city of Industry or, more
likely, in downtown L.A. a short distance from the Coliseum.
more Super Bowls, no more World Cups, fewer if any big concerts and
other major special events that help pay the bills for any facility that
is costly to operate.
For the Coliseum, everything is not coming up roses these days.
reeks of scandal, with its top executives caught with their hands in
the till, contracting with businesses they held a stake in, charging all
kinds of questionable expenses to the Coliseum and, worst of all,
running the stadium into the ground with deficits and no business plan.
Coliseum — home to the Olympic Games in 1932 and 1984, a World Series
and Super Bowls — faces an uncertain future, with USC pressing to take
control away from the city-county-state commission that runs it — a
conflict-prone joint ownership that has a lot to do with why the
Coliseum lost two National Football League teams and has so many
Then, there’s the Rose Bowl, the pride of Pasadena.
was formally dedicated on Jan. 1, 1923 — five months before the
Coliseum was opened — with the first Rose Bowl game, which USC won 14-3
over Penn State.
Like the Coliseum, it has been the site of many
great events, including the Super Bowl, FIFA World Cups and national
college football championship games, as well as the annual New Year’s
But rather than sitting content with past glory,
officials began planning for the future three years ago when momentum
first began to build for a new NFL stadium in the region.
issued $152 million in bonds to provide for badly needed renovations,
including wider tunnels, safety improvements, modernized bathrooms and
concession stands, a rebuilt press box, a new scoreboard, a
state-of-the-art video board, and thousands of premium seats that will
sell for high prices to help pay for the renovations.
plan in place, 30-year leases were signed with the Tournament of Roses
for the Rose Bowl game, and with UCLA to continue playing its home
football games at the stadium.
“We anticipated the NFL coming
back to Los Angeles and that there would be a great new venue with all
the bells and whistles of a modern stadium,” said Darryl Dunn, general
manager of the Rose Bowl.
“Our thought process was there was a
significant chance we would lose some of the special events we had been
getting, so we would have to do something. We knew we had a great
college football venue and built our economic model based on that,
knowing that we had an old stadium with a lot of infrastructure needs.”
Now, the Rose Bowl’s future seems as secure as the Coliseum’s is not.
isn’t just the difference in how publicly owned stadiums are run, and
it isn’t just the difference between how Pasadena and Los Angeles are
(CLICK HERETO READ THE END OF MY SUNDAY COLUMN FOR THE LA TIMES COMMUNITY NEWSPAPERS IN PASADENA, BURBANK AND GLENDALE)