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The State

Mayor benches NFL bid in favor of Trojans

Villaraigosa's reversal increases pressure on the Coliseum to negotiate with USC.

November 29, 2007|David Wharton and Sam Farmer | Times Staff Writers

That's when Villaraigosa's thinking began to shift, with the mayor concluding that bringing the NFL to the Coliseum was "economically unfeasible," Deputy Mayor Sean Clegg said.

However, Clegg added: "When one door closes, another opens. The mayor believes it's time to look at other options in terms of making the NFL a reality in the Los Angeles market."

Dodger Stadium might come back in play. NFL officials recently visited a proposed site in the City of Industry, but Dodgers Senior Vice President Howard Sunkin said the league did not tour Chavez Ravine and said talks with the NFL have not resumed.

"Nothing has happened," Sunkin said. "Nobody has come by to visit."

Reached late Wednesday, Ed Roski, owner of the City of Industry site, didn't seem surprised by the mayor's comments about the NFL and the Coliseum.

"I think the NFL has made that clear," Roski said. "That's why I got back active in this, and we're progressing."

And that is why Villaraigosa is now backing an effort to keep USC from leaving the Coliseum.

"The mayor believes that it's time to contemplate the future of the Coliseum in terms of its relationship with its most loyal and long-standing tenant -- the USC Trojans," Clegg said, adding that Villaraigosa spoke to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Wednesday and called for a joint effort to ensure USC stays put. Both leaders have appointees on the Coliseum Commission.

There are complications with the Trojans' proposed move to Pasadena, which would require approval from not only the 13-member Rose Bowl Operating Co., but also the Pasadena City Council and UCLA, which has played its home games there since 1982.

At this point, USC is asking only for one year and an option on a second.

In an e-mail Wednesday, UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero assured Bruin football supporters that the university would oppose any long-term arrangement between USC and the Rose Bowl.

Coliseum Commissioner Bill Chadwick predicted that USC students and Orange County-based alumni might grow tired of driving the extra miles.

"I think it would be great if they played at the Rose Bowl for two years," the commissioner said. "At the end of that two years, the leverage we would have in negotiations would be spectacular."


Times staff writers Duke Helfand, T.J. Simers and Bill Shaikin contributed to this report.

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