Nov 14, 2012

Pasadena and Rose Bowl move forward with NFL plans

By Brian Charles - SGVN - 11/14/2012

Rose Bowl construction continues on the exterior of the stadium Tuesday, November 29, 2011. (Walt Mancini Staff Photographer)


EIR on NFL at the Rose Bowl

PASADENA - Residents opposed to temporary use of the Rose Bowl by the NFL expressed worries about traffic, booze and rowdy fans, according to a final Environmental Impact Report released by the city.

The City Council is expected to consider the report at its meeting on Nov. 19.

In letters written in response to the EIR, critics critics questioned how the Rose Bowl Operating Co. and Pasadena could measure the impact of an NFL team given the differences between the respective fan bases of professional and college football teams.

On Tuesday, Pasadena City Manager Michael Beck defended the environmental report and said before a franchise finds its way to the Rose Bowl, the city and the team would have a long discussion about "fan behavior expectations."

Furthermore the city can easily set a tone for fan behavior much like officials in a sporting event, he said.

“It's no different than a soccer game when you have an aggressive referee that allows pushing during the game then you have problems,” Beck said. “But if you create strict parameters from the get-go, people will behave within those parameters.”

Pasadena residents have long resisted placing an NFL team in the Rose Bowl. In 2006, voters rejected permanently placing an NFL team in the city-owned stadium. But now the city and the RBOC find themselves in a financial morass. The stadium renovation project, begun in 2011, is facing a funding gap approaching $50 million. Financing and cost overruns are primarily responsible.

The NFL, which has hinted at a return to Los Angeles, either at Farmer's Field or the stadium proposed in Industry, would need to place a team in a temporary home until a permanent facility is complete.

According to the city's environmental report, an NFL team could generate between $5 million and $10 million of annual net revenues for the city.

The EIR consideration coincides with an RBOC proposal to allow twice as many large events (events which draw more than 20,000 spectators) annually at the Rose Bowl.

The RBOC planned to make a recommendation Tuesday night to allow 25 large events instead of the 12 allowed under the current city ordinance. The City Council will consider changing the ordinance Nov. 19. If approved, the ordinance would go into affect in 2013. However, Beck doesn't anticipate an NFL team would play in the Rose Bowl next year.

Currently, the city and the RBOC are not in negotiations with any team, officials said.

Some worried that the stadium officials were leading city officials down a slippery slope.

“I would have little confidence that the number of events is held sacrosanct, especially if the city gets into a financial bind again,” District 7 City Councilman Terry Tornek said.

The Rose Bowl stadium has new turf and has been outfitted
with BCS logos inside and outside of the stadium Tuesday January 5, 2009.
(Walt Mancini Staff Photographer)


But chief among the concerns for residents like Lee Zanteson, who lives a stone's throw from the stadium in the Linda Vista neighborhood, is traffic.

Zanteson called the EIR “inadequate” and said the Arroyo Seco was ill-equipped to absorb the crush of fans, media and the general circus that comes with every NFL home game.

“The Tournament of Roses takes over the Arroyo in the first of December maybe earlier to set up for the Rose Bowl, and they take over the parking lots,” Zanteson said. “Can you imagine having an NFL game with all those tents and people, where are you going to park everyone?” The EIR released Friday does show several choke points where NFL game day traffic would snarl. The traffic study surveyed vehicle flow on Thursdays and Sundays, when the NFL typically holds games, and plugged in data from the 2011 UCLA-California game at the Rose Bowl and traffic information from other NFL venues to simulate game day conditions, according to Fred Dock, Pasadena's transportation department director.

The data “is a combination of their experience at the Rose Bowl and the experience at other NFL stadiums,” Dock said. “They looked at traffic generation on the ground. They looked at a composite and a variety of travel modes” which included cars and mass transit as options for attending games.

The map is littered with red dots where traffic would come to a virtual standstill, according to the report.

And if the NFL comes to the Arroyo, alcohol sales at the Rose Bowl would follow.

“There's no dry version of an NFL stadium. That's a source of the big part of the criticism by those in the neighborhoods,” Tornek said. “Pro football fans are not like the UCLA fans. Of course UCLA fans get juiced before the game, but pro football fans are drinking during the game.”

Beck insists that Pasadena can negotiate the terms of alcohol sales if and when an NFL team comes to the city. But in the end, Pasadena won't allow a franchise or its fans to run roughshod over its prized stadium.

“We are not going to dirty up our name and our brand,” Beck said.