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Neighbors cheer, jeer plans for Rose Bowl to host NFL games

Proponents say noise and traffic congestion around the stadium are secondary to the jobs and revenue that would be generated.

November 19, 2012|By Joe Piasecki, Los Angeles Times
  • Residents say NFL games at the Rose Bowl would unleash rowdy fans and cause traffic jams. Others tout the jobs and revenue that professional football would bring to the area.
Residents say NFL games at the Rose Bowl would unleash rowdy fans and cause… (Al Seib, Los Angeles Times )

About 120 people packed a Pasadena City Hall meeting Monday night to cheer or jeer city plans to allow the Rose Bowl to host professional football games for up to five years if an NFL team moves to Los Angeles.

Residents of the tony neighborhoods near the iconic 90-year-old stadium say NFL games would unleash rowdy fans and cause traffic jams at the expense of homeowners and recreational users.

More than 25,000 vehicles would come to the Rose Bowl on game days, according to a city study, shutting down Brookside Park, the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center, Kidspace Museum and Brookside Golf Course on game days. UCLA also plays its home football games at the Rose Bowl.

Proponents say NFL-related revenue would bail the city-owned stadium out from more than $30 million in cost overruns for ongoing renovation work. Once budgeted at $152 million, the project's cost has climbed to nearly $195 million.

To begin talks with the NFL, the City Council must pass an ordinance to increase the number of large events at the Rose Bowl from a limit of 12 a year to as many as 25. City leaders were expected to vote on the measure late Monday night.

Betsy Nathane, who lives in the Linda Vista neighborhood next to the stadium, said before the meeting started that people from around the region would be put out if a team comes in.

"I use the arroyo nearly every day," she said. "To have [park facilities] closed off for 25 days a year is going to change a lot of people's lifestyles."

Nanyamka Redmond, who lives west of the Rose Bowl, said the economic boost is worth the hassle.

"Traffic and noise are secondary issues compared to jobs," she said. "I understand people east of the Rose Bowl have spent a pretty penny on their houses and want a certain quality of life, but it's not often any city has the opportunity to generate jobs in this capacity."

Earlier this month, consulting firm Barrett Sports Group estimated that the Rose Bowl could raise $5 million to $10 million annually from an NFL deal. The figure does not include revenue from sales and other taxes generated by local businesses.

City voters in 2005 rejected a plan to allow an NFL team to take up permanent residence at the Rose Bowl. No team has committed to Southern California, and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is another possible venue for any team awaiting an NFL stadium to be built in the area.

Councilman Victor Gordo said the city will make accommodations to reduce impacts on residents, but that Pasadena must position itself to negotiate with a team. The Rose Bowl, he said, "was given to us generations ago. It's gone from a park to being America's stadium, and in my mind also a tremendous economic engine for the city and the region."

Brian McCarthy, the NFL's vice president of corporate communications, said in an interview that the league will "monitor all developments in the Los Angeles area" but "has not had any recent conversations with Pasadena or L.A. Coliseum officials."

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