Mar 8, 2012

Pasadena to weigh step toward temporary NFL use of Rose Bowl

Brenda Gazzar, SGVN - March 8, 2012

PASADENA - The City Council will consider Monday whether to conduct a $400,000 environmental study that would pave the way for the Rose Bowl to host an NFL team for up to five years, officials said Thursday.

Rose Bowl General Manager Darryl Dunn said while there are no guarantees, city and stadium officials believe that the two proposals to build an NFL stadium in the Los Angeles area have a good chance of success.

Because neither developer Ed Roski Jr., of Majestic Realty, proposing a stadium in Industry, nor Anschutz Entertainment Group, proposing Farmer's Field near LA Live downtown have a team in hand, neither has begun construction.

Either could need to use the Rose Bowl as an interim facility, Dunn said.

The $400,000 cost to conduct the EIR would be split upfront between the Rose Bowl Operating Co. and the city, Dunn said.

“We think the only way we can be a potential option for an interim site is if we do an (Environmental Impact Report),” Dunn said. “From a timing perspective, we need to get to work on it.”

Dunn said it's apparent that the earliest an NFL team would play at the Rose Bowl would be in the fall of 2013, when the $160 million renovation will be substantially complete. The full-scale EIR process would take up to eight months, Dunn said.

City Council members will be voting on the issue despite a statement last month by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell that there hasn't been any discussion about adding to the league's 32 teams and that the league would prefer to keep teams where they are.

Goodell, however, also said the NFL would like to be back in Los Angeles "if we can do it correctly."

Dunn said he believes “there's a significant chance a team will move to the Los Angeles area in the near future” and would like the iconic Rose Bowl to be considered as an option for an interim host.

While there is a chance that a developer may be able to pay the RBOC and the city back for the costs of the environmental review, they are not expecting that to happen at this point, he said.

City Manager Michael Beck said that temporarily hosting the NFL would be the “most significant thing we can do to stimulate the local economy for a short period of time.” He has also said that it could also help fill a $20 million financing gap in the stadium renovation.

Each UCLA season generates about $2 million in net proceeds to the stadium, and an NFL season is expected to exceed that amount.

The City Council would need to certify the EIR, if conducted, and amend the city ordinance to increase the number of events of 20,000 people or more from up to 12 to up to 25 a year.

“There are two stadiums that can serve as the temporary site - the (Los Angeles Memorial) Coliseum and the Rose Bowl” Councilman Victor Gordo, RBOC president, said. “The Coliseum is saying we are ready and we can have you now. We want to make sure we are on a level playing field.”

Officials would only enter into an agreement with an NFL team if it made financial sense for the city, the stadium and as long as impacts could be offset in some way, Beck said.

City Councilman Terry Tornek said he's “leery” of the proposal but will consider it with an open mind.

“Knowing Michael Beck as I do, certainly, he's as deeply concerned with the city's budget and the RBOC's budget as I am,” Tornek said. “My suspicion is that if he is suggesting that we spend $400,000, it's not on a whim. It must be on the basis that this is a front-end investment on a much bigger payday.”

Both Industry's Grand Crossing project, proposed by Roski Jr., and AEG's proposed Farmer's Field in downtown Los Angeles are vying to bring the NFL back to the area after a nearly 18-year absence.

Residents have had mixed views on the subject. Lee Zanteson, president of the Linda Vista/Annandale Association, said he wants the EIR “to consider every single thing that will have effects” on the Arroyo Seco area.

Zanteson said he had concerns that some impacts, such as traffic or damage to the golf course, could not be mitigated.

“You can control it but you're going to double or triple the amount of traffic you are going to see in a period of four or five months,” Zanteson said.

Last year, the Linda Vista/Annandale Association's 18-member board voted unanimously to oppose any occupancy of the Rose Bowl stadium by the NFL. They cited concerns about impacts to recreational use, traffic, parking, degradation of grassy Area H south of the stadium and the Brookside golf course as well as pollution.

However, the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce board voted to support the idea of considering hosting the NFL on a short-term basis should the opportunity arise, arguing “it would be a huge lost opportunity to dismiss the interim NFL team before even hearing what any deal terms may be and without understanding what impacts may result.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Close