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Going Both Ways


Amended ordinance would allow for a music festival and the NFL to play in the Rose Bowl




<b>April 7, 2016</b> - An Arroyo Music and Art Festival plus the National Football? Is that the deal? Pasadena Council changes Arroyo Seco Public Lands Ordinance.


Andre Coleman


Pasadena Weekly


An amendment to an ordinance regulating the number of events that can be staged in the Rose Bowl will allow the city to put on a three-day music and arts festival and host an NFL team on a temporary basis — the latter something the stadium’s neighbors strongly oppose and city officials said they would not do.

In fact, neither are some of the neighbors thrilled about the Arroyo Seco Music and Arts Festival, which will be held in June 2017.

“We will literally be held hostages in our homes for three consecutive days,” Charles Vorsanger, who lives near the stadium, wrote in response to an environmental impact report (EIR) prepared on the proposed arts and music event.

“No matter that the event organizers pledge to restrict access to all roads leading to the venue. This is an entirely unworkable and unrealistic solution. The congestion in all the neighborhoods will be intolerable,” Vorsanger wrote.

The amendment to the Arroyo Seco Public Lands Ordinance, as well as the EIR related to the festival, were approved by the council at its meeting Monday. The amendment increases the number of displacement or major events attracting 40,000 people or more that can be held in the Rose Bowl from 12 to 15. In addition, it allows concert organizers to use amplified sound at Brooksidc Golf Course, which is located next to the stadium and would be used for the music and arts program.

The festival could draw as many as 90,000 people annually while generating more than $100 million over the next 20 years, stadium officials have said.

The amendment also contains language that keeps open the possibility of an NFL team playing in the Rose Bowl. Residents near the iconic stadium said they wanted the NFL option completely eliminated from consideration.

“[The amendment] would establish that the festival would not occur in the same calendar year as any NFL regular season game at the Rose Bowl,” according to a city staff report.

“Theoretically, yes it means it [the NFL] is still on the table,” said Interim City Manager Steve Mermell. “The language in the amendment means you can do one or the other, but the city is not in talks with the NFL.”

Residents living around the Rose Bowl told the Pasadena Weekly earlier this year that they wanted the NFL removed from consideration.

“This music festival is supposed to be the alternative to a temporary NFL team in the Rose Bowl,” said Nina Chomsky, president of the Linda Vista-Annandale and East Arroyo Neighborhood Preservation Committee.

The council amended the same ordinance in 2013 to allow for additional events had an NFL team been allowed to play in the Rose Bowl at that time. City staff was forced to further amend the ordinance this year to allow for the music and arts festival, but language regarding the NFL was not removed

“It does not look like the city truly abandoned the NFL team option. It looks like they are saying no, but they are holding in place the legal infrastructure and that could allow a team to play here in the future. That is issue No. 1,” Chomsky said.

Rose Bowl officials have repeatedly said that any chance of an NFL team playing in the iconic stadium was taken “off the table” when the Rose Bowl Operating Co. (RBOC), the board that oversees operations at the stadium, voted not to hold negotiations with the league.

“Our intent is the music festival,” said Rose Bowl General Manager Darryl Dunn, “and that will become the third anchor tenant for the Rose Bowl, and that’s our focus.”

Currently, the Rose Bowl’s two major tenants are UCLA and the Tournament of Roses Association, both of which expressed support for the music festival in correspondence to the City Council.

Dunn said there have been no talks with the NFL since the RBOC voted to not negotiate with the league last summer.

Now that they’ve decided to return to Los Angeles, the former St. Louis Rams will play in the LA Memorial Coliseum while a new luxury stadium is built for the team in Inglewood. The San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders are also hoping to return to LA. If they do, stadiums would be needed for them to play in temporarily.

The new Inglewood stadium will include office space, retail shops, a hotel, a manmade lake and a park. It will be easy to reach by public transportation, making it more viable for superstar acts like Beyoncé and Coldplay, both of which are scheduled to play the Rose Bowl in May and August, respectively.

In January, stadium officials said the Arroyo Music and Arts Festival has to be successful because the NFL’s new state-of-the-art stadium could attract soccer games, concerts and other one-off events that have helped the Rose Bowl make money over the past several years.

The Rose Bowl could also be facing a new financial challenge from Dodger Stadium. Officials with that facility recently announced they struck a deal with entertainment executive Tim Leiweke of Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) and music industry veteran Irving Azoff to bring in major bands. No acts have been named.

The Rose Bowl music festival would include up to four music stages, a theater performance stage, art displays, carnival rides, and concession stands. The four stages, some of which would be in tents, would be erected inside the Rose Bowl and on nearby Brookside Golf Course, with amplified sound occurring on each stage.

The RBOC has signed a letter of intent with AEG over the music and arts festival that spans 10 years with two five-year options.

The event was actually set for this June, but Dunn said that the slow-moving EIR process and the desire to put on a great show caused the delay.

Music festivals have become financial booms in numerous communities, places as different as San Francisco and Indio, where the Coachella Music Festival is staged each year. In 2014, Coachella grossed $78.3 million and was attended by 600,000 people. The Outland Festival in San Francisco in 2014 drew over 200,000 attendees and grossed more than $19 million.

The RBOC is depending on the festival to keep the stadium in the black. Last year, the RBOC voted not to hold negotiations with the NFL that could have allowed a team to play in the stadium while a new facility is being built.

Even prior to that vote, the RBOC had been taking on musical events as a viable third long-term tenant in the stadium.

But once the NFL was eliminated, pressure to put together a successful music festival increased.

“In this two- to three-day mix of approximately 85,000 dispirited, frenzied hepped up concert going fans in an enclosed space, whatever could go wrong?” wrote Gordon J. Pashgian. “This is literally a boots on the ground operation and we have no idea what the risk vs. the rewards outcome will be.”




Arroyo Seco Foundation, PO Box 91622, Pasadena, CA 91109-1622 (323) 405-7326