The board of the California Science Center is expected to vote Wednesday on whether to support leasing the Los Angeles Coliseum to the University of Southern California.
Some members of the foundation that raises funds for the center want the Governor to stop the deal because it gives USC most of the parking in Exposition Park on at least 25 days a year.
The science center operates in a public-private partnership between the State of California and a non-profit foundation.
Under the deal, USC would lease the Coliseum and Sports Arena for 98 years and keep the proceeds from any events. In exchange, the university would invest at least $70 million in improvements.
“The state is not in position of making improvements to this property that it needs,” said Melissa Figueroa, who’s with the state agency that manages the properties at Exposition Park. She said the Coliseum needs the cash infusion from USC. “Otherwise it’s going to just continue to crumble and deteriorate.”
But the deal also gives USC the lion’s share of parking at Exposition Park on at least 25 days a year. According to a draft lease proposal, the Science Center would get just 600 slots on those days to share with the California African-American Museum.
Marvin Holen, who serves as a board member on the Science Center’s fundraising foundation, said the organization needs 200 of those spaces just for staff and volunteers, and the 400 remaining slots won’t be enough for children and their families:
“We expect two-and-a-half million visitors to the California science center alone this year," Holen said. "Where are they going to park?”
Holen predicted patrons won’t come if they can’t park and the museums will “wither.”
USC would also get to keep parking proceeds from its designated days. That could reach hundreds of millions of dollars over the life of the lease. Ordinarily those revenues would fund improvements at Exposition Park.