Rose Bowl neighbors supportive of renovation

PASADENA – Lee Zanteson and Gordon Treweek can breathe a sigh of
relief.

After opposing a failed NFL initiative first launched in 2003,
the Arroyo Seco neighborhood leaders say they can live with a $152
million stadium renovation plan approved Monday.

While opposition to the NFL proposal culminated in the defeat of
a 2006 ballot initiative, Monday’s approval by council members of
the more modest renovation has been met with little argument from
nearby residents.

“There really is no (other) choice for the city,” said Zanteson,
president of the Linda Vista/Annandale Association. “If you didn’t
do it, the Rose Bowl would deteriorate and we would have a real
white elephant on our hands.”

In fact, Zanteson believes the current renovation plan is
“pretty reasonable.”

Project architects, he said, are making whatever improvements
they can while still preserving the stadium’s historic character,
something that could not have been guaranteed by the NFL.

And although the
football league had offered to
invest some $500 million in stadium improvements, some residents
feared the NFL would have had to increase the number of events
there to pay for them.

“As you can see now, we’re scaled back to $150 million in
improvements, which I think will make the Rose Bowl very relevant
to
college
football in the 21st century,” said
Treweek, president of the East Arroyo Residents Association. “It
will really upgrade the facility very nicely.”

Meanwhile, the city gets to maintain control of the iconic
stadium to better protect residents, Mayor Bill Bogaard said.

In fact, that was largely the reason that the City Council voted
in June 2005 to forego submitting a proposal to the NFL for stadium
improvements, favoring the development of a non-NFL alternative
instead, he said.

“In the end, the NFL doesn’t occupy a stadium that it doesn’t
control,” Bogaard said. “And in the end, Pasadena doesn’t give up
control over the world-famous Rose Bowl.”

Zanteson said that he is generally pleased with measures in
place meant to reduce construction impacts and protect nearby
residents.

A memorandum of understanding was also signed last month between
the Rose Bowl Operating Company and the three neighborhood
associations most affected by the project: the West Pasadena
Residents’ Association, the Linda Vista-Annandale Association and
the East Arroyo Residents Association.

The MOU provides several points of contact for residents who
face problems during construction.

However, “it’s never going to be as good as you think it is,”
Zanteson conceded. “We just have to wait and see. We think we have
a mechanism in place to deal with problems. That’s the best you can
hope for.”

At two recent council meetings where the Rose Bowl renovation
plan was discussed, not one concern about potential impacts to
surrounding neighborhoods was raised.

This is largely the result of monthly meetings between stadium
officials and leaders of the three neighborhood associations that
began about two and a half years ago, said Darryl Dunn, Rose Bowl
CEO and general manager.

“They want the Rose Bowl to be successful,” he said. “They just
don’t want their lives to be disrupted too adversely. We respect
their position and they respect ours.”

Councilman Steve Madison has argued that as funds become
available they should be spent on relieving impacts to the area
that a massive construction project is certain to cause there.

Residents in the Arroyo Seco will have to play an active role in
communicating concerns with their council representatives, said
Councilman Victor Gordo, president of the Rose Bowl Operating
Company board.

While the Rose Bowl is an asset to the city, it can’t be used to
the detriment of one or two neighborhoods, he said.

“That’s the fine balance we are attempting to strike,” he
said.

Construction of the project is expected to start in January and
be completed by the 100th Rose Bowl game in 2014.

brenda.gazzar@sgvn.com

626-578-6300, ext. 4496