Roughly 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.
More than 25,000 vehicles would come to the Rose Bowl on game days, according to a city study, shutting down the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center, Kidspace Museum and Brookside Golf Course.
Backers of the plan say a team would generate millions of dollars in tax revenue to help bail the city-owned stadium out from cost overruns for ongoing renovation work. Once budgeted at $152 million, the price tag for the Rose Bowl upgrade -- including luxury seating, a new press box, new electronic signs and wider entrance ways -- has climbed to nearly $195 million.
To begin talks with the NFL, Pasadena City Council members must pass an ordinance to increase the number of large events at the Rose Bowl from 12 to as many as 25 per year. City leaders were expected to vote on the measure late Monday night. Nearly 50 people asked to address the council during a comment period that began around 8:30 p.m.
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," Nathane 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.
The current proposal to host an NFL team at the Rose Bowl is speculative. No team has committed to Southern California, and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is another possible venue for any team awaiting a new NFL stadium to be built in the area.
Pasadena City Councilman Victor Gordo said the city will make accommodations to reduce impacts on nearby residents, but that it 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."
Dean Baim, a Pepperdine University economics professor who specializes in arena financing, said in an interview that the Rose Bowl has a competitive advantage over the Coliseum.
“Given its current state, I can see where the NFL might be reluctant to locate at the Coliseum,” said Baim. “There’s historical marquee value, but as far as seating I think you’d have to upgrade that significantly.”
"The Rose Bowl is in a better state of repair," he said. "To some degree, the Rose Bowl is already at a professional level."
John Sandbrook, interim general manager at the Coliseum, declined comment.
-- Joe Piasecki, Times Community News