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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

L.A. Coliseum Commission Wades Through Odd Lawsuits In Wake Of Scandal

Paresh Dave |
October 14, 2012 | 6:12 p.m. PDT

Executive Director

Former Coliseum General Manager Patrick Lynch was at the heart of several bad deals, lawsuits say. (Paresh Dave/Neon Tommy)
Former Coliseum General Manager Patrick Lynch was at the heart of several bad deals, lawsuits say. (Paresh Dave/Neon Tommy)
A ruined indoor track, an old set of ATMs and a series of international soccer matches are all central to lawsuits filed against the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission. Together, they reveal the depth of the mismanagement at the Coliseum and Sports Arena during the last decade.

Track and field promoter Al Franken alleged in a lawsuit filed last month that the Coliseum and Sports Arena management let a storied 160-yard indoor track deteriorate in storage.

The wooden oval-shaped track met the strikes of runners from the legendary Steve Prefontaine to Marion Jones, serving as the centerpiece of an annual track meet atop the Sports Arena's basketball court known as the Sunkist Invitational in the 70s, 80s and 90s. About 11 laps around the track would have equaled a mile.

Franken and the commission had agreed to equally split the cost of purchasing the track in the 70s. Revenues generated from the meet and ownership of the track were equally split too. But when Sports Arena employees recently found it rotting, they threw it away since they didn't know about Franken's part-ownership. Tracks -- now usually made from rubber -- cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Franken's attorney David Greifinger said they are still deciding how much money will be sought in damages.

Steve Prefontaine running a two-mile race at the 1973 Sunkist Indoor Invitational Track & Field Meet. (Courtesy of Robert Bonn)
Steve Prefontaine running a two-mile race at the 1973 Sunkist Indoor Invitational Track & Field Meet. (Courtesy of Robert Bonn)
Greifinger said the track was perfect when Fresno State University rented it from the commission in 2005 for its Run for the Dream track and field invitational. Fresno State's athletics department confirmed that the Sunkist track was used at its inaugural meet in 2006, but the university eventually secured a $900,000 donation in 2007 to build its own indoor track. When Al's son, Don, inquired about the Sunkist track this spring, he learned about its death from the Coliseum.


Transactions made through ATMs at the Coliseum and Sports Arena had been processed by Utah-based eGlobal Services as part of a contract signed in 2007. But Coliseum General Manager John Sandbrook told eGlobal in July that no valid deal existed with eGlobal since the Coliseum's governing board had never approved the contract.

When the commission invited companies to bid for a new contract, eGlobal responded by suing for $50,000 in damages. That sum represents about 10 percent of the cash-strapped commission's monthly budget.

The lawsuit, filed in Utah in August, alleges that the Coliseum improperly terminated the contract and deprived the company of business by installing rival ATMs at the stadium without its knowledge. eGlobal Chief Operating Officer Jeff Matthews has reached out to the commission to settle the matter, the company's attorney said.


The Coliseum's previous general manager Pat Lynch also entered into a contract with Eduardo Ostrogovich to help bring international soccer matches to the Coliseum. In a lawsuit, Ostrogovich says his relationship with the Coliseum dates back to 1996 -- about the time Lynch became GM and the NFL left L.A. At one point, Ostrogovich was to be awarded 50 percent of net profits of games he oversaw. In 2007, he says he signed another contract giving him $6,000 a month to attract soccer matches, suggest changes to the Coliseum and act as a liaison with the soccer world. 

Ostrogovich alleges in the lawsuit that new records post-scandal show that Lynch gave him less than he was owed.

The commission through its lawyers at Burke, Williams and Sorensen has denied all the allegations. Ostrogovich's attorney Howard Rosen declined comment as he continues to sort through commission documents.

The Coliseum Commission, composed of politicians and officials appointed by politicians, has sued Lynch and a couple of others from depriving the commission of revenues from raves. The next court date in that case is Monday.

In a criminal case, Lynch gave back $350,000 to the Coliseum and plead guilty to avoid jail time.

SEE ALSO: L.A. Coliseum's Lightbulbs Not Ready For NFL Spotlight

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