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PASADENA'S PUBLIC VOCAL ON NFL ISSUE ROSE BOWL REDESIGN SCRUTINIZED.

Byline: Billy Witz Staff Writer

They came in bicycle-racing outfits, golf shirts, equestrian boots and business suits to see and hear the latest plans to lure an NFL franchise to the Rose Bowl.

When it came time to ask questions and voice concerns, the opinions of many among the approximately 75 people who turned up Saturday morning for a Rose Bowl Operating Company meeting were as wide ranging as the clothes they wore.

The RBOC billed the meeting as a restart of the environmental review process that had been halted early this year when the NFL demanded design changes in the proposed $500 million renovation.

Yet what it did more than anything was demonstrate how involved the Pasadena community will be in determining how far this project goes forward - and, perhaps more importantly, how fast.

The two-hour meeting at the Rose Bowl began with a slide presentation on the changes by architect Dennis Wellner of the firm HOK Sport.

Yet, as dozens took turns addressing the RBOC board, their concerns went well beyond aesthetics. They spoke on the need for jobs, the consequences of additional traffic, the cost of inaction, the perils of playing ball with the NFL, the importance of accurate economic analysis, etc.

``Pasadena is a very thoughtful community,'' said RBOC board member Bill Thomson, a former mayor of Pasadena. ``The public expects to participate. It means we come out with a better project, even if everybody may not agree 125 percent.''

Still, the public good has often been of little concern to the NFL, whose owners often equate any form of community dissent less with democracy than a lack of a desire.

This hasn't been a problem for the Coliseum, which breezed through its environmental review process with little public interest, let alone opposition. Nor has it been thus far in Carson, where the city's discussions with the NFL have drawn scant public comment. The question that remains in Pasadena is how much public discourse can the community afford?

Having spun its wheels for much of the last year with issues related to the redesign, the Rose Bowl now finds itself on a tight schedule. It must complete its environmental impact report (EIR), often a nine-month process, by late May to meet the NFL's deadline.

``We know what we're dealing with,'' Thomson said. ``We know the timeline and the marks we have to meet.''

If there was one point of consensus it appeared to be a lack of trust toward the NFL. While the NFL has worked on its relationship with Rose Bowl and city officials - the league has stepped in to cover many of the EIR and redesign costs - it has some work to do in the neighborhoods.

``I'm concerned whether we're going to get the NFL or the NFL is going to get us,'' said David Romney, a resident of west Pasadena.

Al Moses, a former RBOC member, said the NFL has one choice in Los Angeles.

``The NFL likes to have competition, but (the other two sites) are not real,'' Moses said. ``Carson is going to be a shopping center and the Coliseum is all dressed up with nowhere to go. I think it's ours to lose.''

The latest plans call for several changes made to suit the NFL. The club suites, which were at field level, were moved higher. An additional concourse (with accompanying tunnels) will be put in between the current one and the top of the stadium. The number of luxury suites were increased from 140 to 200.

What also drove these changes was the NFL's desire to cut $60-80 million off the cost of the project, Wellner said.

Billy Witz, (818) 713-3621

billy.witz(at)dailynews.com

CAPTION(S):

photo

Photo:

This is an architectural rendition of proposed Rose Bowl renovations aimed at luring an NFL franchise to the facility.

Courtesy of HOK Sport
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 22, 2004
Words:644
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