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Pasadena considers whether to host NFL team at Rose Bowl

The City Council plans a hearing to discuss whether the infusion of revenue would be worth the traffic and noise that games would produce.

November 18, 2012|By Joe Piasecki, Los Angeles Times
  • On Monday, the Pasadena City Council will hold a public hearing to decide what course the city may pursue if the NFL comes back to the L.A. area.
On Monday, the Pasadena City Council will hold a public hearing to decide… (Ricardo DeAratanha, Los…)

Many Pasadena residents who live near the Rose Bowl complain that the city's proposal to host an NFL team for up to five years would invite massive traffic jams, unleash rowdy fan behavior and displace recreational users from the Arroyo Seco.

The Pasadena Chamber of Commerce and others say the prospect of millions of dollars in public revenue and game-related local spending is a windfall well worth the inconveniences.

On Monday, the City Council will hold a public hearing to decide what course the city may pursue.

Both the disaster and money-making scenarios are speculative. No NFL team has committed to Southern California despite years of talk, and the Los Angeles Coliseum is another option as a temporary home while a permanent new NFL stadium is built.

But if talks with the NFL are to begin, Pasadena leaders must pass an ordinance to increase the number of large events allowed at the Rose Bowl from 12 to 25 each year, approve an associated environmental study and adopt a "statement of overriding considerations" that pro football's potential benefits outweigh its downsides.

A Nov. 5 report by Barrett Sports Group, a Manhattan Beach consulting firm hired by the city, estimates that NFL games would raise $5 million to $10 million a year for the city-owned stadium, where costs for an ongoing renovation have spiraled to nearly $195 million. The gap between the funds Rose Bowl officials have and what they estimate they need has reached $30 million.

City Council members declined to say how they would vote on Monday, but several said the renovation cost was a factor.

Councilwoman Margaret McAustin said the city would seek to reduce impacts on Rose Bowl neighbors if it decided to go ahead with the plan.

"It's not that we'll do this at all costs … [but] we have to keep in mind that the Rose Bowl is a football stadium," she said. "We're not spending $200 million to preserve it as a museum."

Mayor Bill Bogaard, who opposed a 2005 plan to bring pro football to the Rose Bowl permanently and give the NFL control over stadium renovations, said he was giving this plan serious thought. "That funding gap would be relieved if we were to strike the right deal with the NFL," he said.

But the right deal remains elusive, said Linda Vista-Annandale Assn. President Nina Chomsky, an opponent of the plan.

"They are trying to more than double the amount of events at the Rose Bowl without any contract or deal that tells us what the full impacts will be, so any attempt to mitigate those impacts is speculative," Chomsky said.

The city's 688-page environmental study found that NFL games would result in "significant and unavoidable" traffic congestion, emissions, noise and disruptions in the central Arroyo Seco.

The arrival of more than 25,000 vehicles during eight home games, two preseason games and possible playoff matches would disrupt joggers and prompt the Kidspace Museum, Rose Bowl Aquatic Center and Brookside Golf Course to go dark on those Sundays.

Chomsky added that back-to-back college and pro games would clog the area for entire weekends.

Sixty-four letters and two petitions were submitted as public comment on the environmental study, most against the proposal.

Several writers expressed fears that NFL games would attract alcohol-fueled and criminal mischief, with one Arroyo resident imagining "ever-expanding cultural crassness" on game days.

Contemporary Services Corp., which handles security at the Rose Bowl and stadiums throughout the country, countered in a Nov. 5 report to the city that "our experience has indicated that NFL fans are generally more orderly than college football fans."

joe.piasecki@latimes.com

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