A view of the game between UCLA and USC at the Rose Bowl on Saturday. Pasadena… (Harry How / Getty Images )
Pasadena officials have cleared the way to begin negotiations with the NFL for bringing a professional football team to the Rose Bowl for up to five years while a new stadium is built in downtown Los Angeles.
More than 100 people packed a Pasadena City Hall meeting that stretched into early Tuesday morning, many of them residents of wealthy neighborhoods surrounding the iconic 90-year-old stadium.
They complained that traffic jams, trash and rowdy fan behavior would disrupt enjoyment of the Arroyo Seco by homeowners and recreational users.
More than 25,000 vehicles would use the stadium grounds on game days, according to a city study, shutting down the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center, Kidspace Museum and Brookside Golf Course.
But allowing a football team to use the Rose Bowl up to 13 Sundays a year while an NFL stadium is built in Los Angeles could also be a financial boon for the city-owned stadium.
The price tag for ongoing renovations to the Rose Bowl, once budgeted at $152 million, has grown to nearly $195 million. Barrett Sports Group, a Manhattan Beach consulting firm hired by the city, projects that an NFL lease could raise $5 million to $10 million for the venue each year.
City Council members ultimately voted to increase the number of events at the Rose Bowl from 12 to 25 a year if a deal is struck with an NFL team. UCLA plays its home football games at the stadium, which also hosts the annual Rose Bowl game.
"I'm not excited about the NFL, and clearly [the Rose Bowl's neighbors] are not excited, but it's the responsible thing to do," Councilwoman Margaret McAustin said.
Councilman Terry Tornek cast the lone vote against the increase, saying that he's not convinced the city should burden neighborhoods near the stadium with shoring up finances for the renovation.
"I think this city has a moral contract with the residents of these neighborhoods," Tornek said.
Leaders of neighborhood groups opposed to professional football at the Rose Bowl threatened to take legal action to reverse the council's decision. Others said they supported the move as a way to boost the local economy, as well as city coffers.
"You're just trying to shove this down people's throats," Paula Shatsky, a resident of the Linda Vista neighborhood, said.
Another Linda Vista resident, Anita Fromholz, broke from her neighbors' views.
"The Rose Bowl is part of Pasadena's heritage. Keeping the NFL option open until we know what comes up is one way to preserve it," Fromholz said.