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Rose Bowl Proposal Aims High

Weighted in Pasadena's favor, it will ask NFL to pay rent and promise eight Super Bowls.

May 17, 2003|Sam Farmer | Times Staff Writer

Proponents of rebuilding the Rose Bowl for a pro football team will ask the NFL to pay rent -- even though the league would put up the money for the $500-million project -- and will seek a commitment of eight Super Bowls in 30 years, according to documents made public Friday.

The 13-page "vision statement" is dated May 19 and was prepared by Pasadena City Manager Cynthia Kurtz for next week's NFL owners meetings in Philadelphia. The league has not received a copy of the proposal.

Investment banker John Moag, spearheading the Rose Bowl project, received permission Tuesday from the Pasadena City Council to pursue a nonbinding deal with the league that would bring a team to the city.

"The hardest part of this project has always been trying to get the community around something that made sense for them," Moag said Friday. "This proposal makes a lot of sense."

However, an expert source familiar with NFL stadium deals but with no stake in the Los Angeles stadium situation examined the documents at the request of The Times and said the proposal was so heavily weighted in Pasadena's favor that it probably wouldn't appeal to NFL owners but appeared to be a jumping-off point for negotiations.

Among the proposal's noteworthy points:

* The NFL would rehabilitate the venue according to an approved design maintaining the building's designation as a National Historic Landmark.

* The city would continue to own the stadium and the Rose Bowl Operating Co. would continue its oversight role.

* Besides paying an unspecified rent, the NFL would pay for all operations, maintenance, repairs and improvements for the term of the lease, which would be at least 30 years.

* There would be no more than 25 events annually with an attendance of more than 20,000. Thirteen of those would be set aside for the NFL, seven for UCLA football and one for the Rose Bowl game.

* The NFL would "provide the city adequate revenues" to pay off the existing Rose Bowl bonds without using revenue from neighboring Brookside Golf Course. Moag said that does not mean the league would pay the bonds, adding, "The city needs to be assured that it's not saddled with that debt with no way to repay it." So an arrangement between the league and the city would have to be made.

* Any adverse financial impacts incurred by UCLA or the Tournament of Roses -- a certainty, considering the capacity would be reduced by nearly one-third -- would be covered by the NFL.

* The league would consider building a practice facility in Pasadena and would provide public benefits to the city, including participation in local nonprofit and youth programs. Also, the league would provide local employment during construction and for stadium operations. The practice facility, Moag said, would be enormously popular with fans unable to buy tickets to games.

* The league would be offered the opportunity to name the field but not the stadium, i.e. XYZ Field at the Rose Bowl.

The expert contacted by The Times said the issue of rent wasn't nearly as significant as the distribution of stadium revenue. In other words, who gets to control the building?

Moag, who cleared the way for the Cleveland Browns to move to Baltimore, joined the Rose Bowl team in August at the behest of the league. He has worked closely with Pasadena officials and NFL executives on a workable proposal.

"The Commissioner [Paul Tagliabue] has bent over backwards to compromise on issues like design that may cost the league a little bit of money," Moag said.

"But he truly understands the history of this building and the importance that this building has to the community. You've got to give him credit for that."

Only recently did Moag learn that the league is simultaneously mulling an option on 157 acres in Carson with the thought of possibly developing a stadium on its own.

"I was totally blindsided," he said.

He declined to say whether he was angered by the Carson news but said, "The only way we can deal with that issue is to focus on our own proposal and the format that it takes and what it looks like."

Moag and his associates have taken pains to preserve the historic elements of the stadium, including keeping its bowl shape instead of transforming it into a more modern vertical structure that puts spectators closer to the field. The venue would feature more than twice the square footage, yet its seating capacity would be reduced from 92,000 to 68,000, expandable to about 75,000 for major events such as Rose Bowl games and Super Bowls.

"Eight Super Bowls is obviously ambitious," Moag said. "But we think the end product here is the home base, if you will, of the NFL's Super Bowl. We'll leave it up to the NFL to conclude whether or not that's the case."

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