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San Gabriel Valley / Cover Story : A Full Bowl Has Its Price : As major events at the stadium reach an all-time high, adding more money to city coffers, some nearby residents are frustrated by the increased traffic, bright lights, unruly fans and noise.

July 14, 1994|RICK HOLGUIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The World Cup game was going full tilt and, at times, the Rose Bowl's public address system drowned out Cam Currier as he talked on the deck of his hillside home about half a mile west.

Three helicopters and two airplanes towing banners buzzed overhead.

"Anybody can tolerate almost anything as long as it's temporary and occasional," said Currier, a member of the influential Linda Vista/Annandale Assn., which represents the owners of the pricey homes west of the Rose Bowl. "But I can see it getting to the point where it gets intolerable."

Anchored by eight World Cup games, including the finals this weekend, the Rose Bowl this year is hosting more major events--23--than ever before. Indeed, the number is almost twice as many as a 6-year-old cap on bowl events allows.

More events bring more money to city coffers, more recognition for Pasadena, potentially more business to local stores and restaurants.

But they also bring more street-clogging cars, more unruly fans and noise, and more nights disturbed by the stadium's bright lights.

Some residents on both the more affluent west side of the Rose Bowl and the more modest east flank accuse the City Council of wanting to turn the Rose Bowl into a "cash cow" to pay for services citywide at the expense of those who live nearby.

"I think the council will approve as many events as they can without causing an absolute uproar or revolt," said Penny York, another activist who lives to the west of the Rose Bowl. "If they think they can get away with more, and they're offered more money, they would do it."

Some city leaders, on the other hand, accuse aggressive residents of selfishly wanting the Rose Bowl to be a "lawn ornament."

Because of World Cup revenue, city officials plan to plunge an additional $1 million into gang-prevention and other city programs in coming months, at a time when other cities face cutbacks because of state budget balancing.

"We're not in a financial position where we can let the Rose Bowl sit unused," Councilman William E. Thomson said in a recent interview. "We're going to have to put more concerts in there, or something of that sort that brings in money."

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The council is expected to decide soon whether to raise the cap permanently and if so, how many events of each type--sporting, concerts and so forth--to allow each year. The directors of the Rose Bowl Operating Co. established by the council, of which York is vice president, are developing a master plan for review later this year that would include those issues as well as making possible improvements to the bowl.

All told, the Rose Bowl will host about twice as many major events this year as it did in 1993: the Rose Bowl game, two Pink Floyd concerts, 10 World Cup events, six UCLA football games, as many as three Rolling Stones concerts and an Eagles concert.

The year is more than half over and there have been few problems so far, city officials and residents say. But the Stones and Eagles concerts are yet to come, and residents remember unpleasant times from similar events.

David Withers, a neighborhood association member who lives on Linda Vista Avenue, just south of the stadium, got an eyeful the day of the Guns 'n' Roses/Metallica concert in 1992.

"Before the concert they were arresting people," Withers said. "They had them face down and handcuffed in front of my house."

Chuck Fortlage, who lives on Richland Place just east of the stadium, said Pink Floyd fans urinated on the bank below his home during a concert in April. Residents also remember terrible traffic jams from one of the Pink Floyd concerts.

Currier, who lives on the hillside west of the stadium, endures a different kind of problem with concerts. Rose Bowl lights are left on into the early morning as workers alter or tear down stages after the events.

"You can read a newspaper in my bed at any hour of the night," Currier said.

Residents say the World Cup soccer tournament so far has been one of the most hassle-free of Rose Bowl events.

A small army of Pasadena police, California Highway Patrol officers, sheriff's deputies and security officers have kept traffic to a minimum in the neighborhoods. Extensive use of shuttles has also helped.

In addition, the soccer games have ended before nightfall, when noise and stadium lights become the most bothersome. Some neighbors of the bowl have even been able to cash in on the Cup, renting parking space in their driveways and selling cold sodas out of ice-filled garbage cans.

Nevertheless, residents must carefully plot out their personal times of departure and routes on game days to avoid being ensnared by traffic. And noise, even in the day, can annoy.

The blustery debate over use of the Rose Bowl kicked up relatively recently in the life of the stadium, which opened in 1923.

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