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Coming Up Roses?

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LAist Scott Garner posted some thoughts about the proposed Rose Bowl changes that were announced this week.

While Pasadena residents may be fearing the NFL stampede is coming to trample on its historic landmark, they actually should be pleased with this plan.

The new proposal is a dramatic improvement from the old plan, which would have required considerable excavation in terms of digging a hole in the Arroyo Seco to redo the Rose Bowl and building an underground parking garage. It would have closed the facility for two years, and would have moved the Rose Bowl Game to Dodger Stadium for at least one year, with UCLA either sharing the Coliseum with USC or also moving to Dodger Stadium for at least two seasons.

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With all of the proposed digging, it's no wonder that the Rose Bowl was nowhere close to finishing its Environmental Impact Report.

Instead, this new plan is more similar to the renovated Lambeau Field in Green Bay, which is hardly "blighting a timeless landmark" like Scott fears. Sure, there will be luxury boxes, but that's a necessity these days if you want to have a viable stadium. Reducing the capacity to 65,000 (really 75,000 for most UCLA and other major football games) is long overdue for a stadium with seats so thin you need to be Kate Moss to feel comfortable in them.

The stadium will still feel like the Rose Bowl. It will still look like the Rose Bowl. Darryl Dunn and John Moag are very sensitive to that. It's not going look be like Soldier Field, where you'll think a spaceship landed in the middle of Pasadena. But as a building that's becoming more and more useless each day, the Rose Bowl needs a facelift before it loses its relevance.

Actually, in the past 10 years the Rose Bowl has already added luxury suites and reduced its capacity by 10,000, so it's almost puzzling that people are suddenly against this next logical step towards keeping the landmark viable.

Scott does bring up a good question in his post about who is going to pay for all this, but as it says in the LA Times article he linked, Rose Bowl officials say the NFL will pay for all renovations. Anyone who has a sports management position in LA sports is smart enough to know that you absolutely can never ever use taxpayer dollars in Southern California for a sports facility and live to see another day.

So with the Rose Bowl still in bloom, not about to become obsolete, and paid for by someone else, is the NFL still worthwhile for the city of Pasadena? Of course it is. As the STAPLES Center has proven, sports venues can be an extremely effective means of spurring economic development. A renovated Rose Bowl would create jobs and bring more business to Pasadena. Even more valuable would be the inevitability of the Super Bowl coming to Pasadena every few years which has, on average, a $300-$500 million economic impact on the host city.

Still, admittedly there are some concerns with the Rose Bowl plan. The new plan calls for a reduction in parking spaces in an area where there are already few parking spaces to begin with. For the Rose Bowl Game on Jan. 1, Brooks Golf Course gets trampled on by thousands of cars, and we don't see any other solution yet. Additionally, any Rose Bowl proposal would have to include a widening of the 134 and possibly the 110 around Pasadena which can get bottled up easily for sellouts. But perhaps the reduced capacity of the stadium is enough to solve these problems. We're not sure yet.

The real question is what does this all mean for the NFL in the city of Los Angeles? The answer is that while the Rose Bowl is once again a legitimate contender, the Coliseum plan is still the favorite. The Coliseum is actually in the city of Los Angeles, and while Pasadena will benefit, LA would benefit more from the presence of a team near downtown.

The equally historic Coliseum also has a completed EIR, and a renovation plan that seems amenable to the NFL. If the NFL can get over its irrational fear of Exposition Park which was caused by unruly Raider fans, then LAist can almost imagine the Los Angeles Colts taking the field in 2008.

The Carson plan is still a dark horse, but it's hard to get away with building a stadium on a toxic landfill.

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LAist supports the return of the NFL to Los Angeles, and we'll get behind whichever proposal has the most realistic chance of bringing a team here as soon as possible. Right now that looks like the Coliseum, but the Rose Bowl proposal is not so bad.

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