- Arash Markazi, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Rose Bowl and Pasadena officials are moving forward with plans to conduct a traffic study to measure the impact of an NFL team playing at the stadium on a temporary basis.
The study, which is expected to be completed in December, would measure traffic in and around the Rose Bowl over four days, including UCLA’s Oct. 29 game against Cal, said David Dunn, general manager of the Rose Bowl.
The preliminary study is being conducted due to the possibility of an NFL team moving to Los Angeles as early as next year but it would be up to the NFL and the team’s owner where the team played. The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum would also be in the running to serve as a temporary home.
“This is really more done by the city because its part of the process they go through to understand the impact of additional events. They need to understand the traffic implications,” Dunn said on Friday. “They did traffic studies in 2005 when we were negotiating with the NFL for a long-term scenario. Since we’re in the middle of football season they want to double check the traffic counts from different areas and different intersections. It’s really data collecting. That’s all this is.”
It might be difficult measuring the impact of an NFL team playing at the Rose Bowl by comparing it to UCLA football games this season. The 3-4 Bruins are only averaging an announced crowd of 53,828 per game in the 94,000-seat stadium with the actual attendance figures being lower since those attendance figures only measure tickets accounted for and not the actual number of fans attending the game. Dunn said the Rose Bowl has also collected data in the past for Rose Bowl games and a U2 concert which drew capacity crowds.
Coliseum officials said a similar study would not be needed for the stadium because the city of Los Angeles is unified behind the city-owned Coliseum serving as the temporary home of an NFL team and the impact of an NFL game would be similar to a USC football game, which regularly sold out the 93,000-seat stadium prior to last season.
In Pasadena, however, the board of the Linda Vista/Annandale Association, a prominent neighborhood organization for the area around the stadium, voted unanimously last month to oppose an NFL team using the Rose Bowl as a temporary home. More than two-thirds of voters in Pasadena rejected a plan in 2006 to offer the NFL a long-term lease to play at the Rose Bowl.
“The Coliseum doesn’t need to go through all the political gymnastics because we’re all unified in support of the NFL playing temporarily in the Coliseum should a team move to Los Angeles,” said Coliseum Commission president David Israel on Friday. “The community, the political leaders, USC and the Coliseum Commission will work together to make it happen for the benefit of everybody.”
Last month the Coliseum Commission, the nine-member governing body of the Coliseum, unanimously voted to engage in negotiations with USC on a master lease for the 88-year-old stadium. An agreement is expected to be reached by the end of the year and would give the university the exclusive right to use, manage and operate the stadium. The Coliseum Commission already gave the school first right of refusal on an NFL team playing the building.
Four years ago USC offered to pay $100 million to renovate the Coliseum in exchange for the master lease, but the commission rejected it. USC officials are expected to double that amount after gaining the master lease in December and begin plans to return the Coliseum to the condition that made it the home of two Olympic Games and two Super Bowls.
"Our goal is to ensure that the facility continues to be a long-term asset for the community and for the university," said Thomas Sayles, USC's senior vice president for university relations. "As a loyal and dedicated tenant of over 90 years, we want to return the Coliseum to its former glory and be the caretaker it deserves for future generations.”
The Rose Bowl is currently undergoing a $152 million, three-phase renovation that will be completed by August 2013 and will not interrupt the football season during the process. Rose Bowl officials believe an NFL team playing there temporarily would make up a $16-million shortfall in renovation costs. UCLA also has first right of refusal on an NFL team playing the building.
“We’ve been down this road before,” Dunn said. “There’s been talk about this for a long time whether it’s the Rose Bowl or the Coliseum serving as the interim site. This is nothing new. We’ve had these discussions with UCLA before and we’ll talk to them again in the event the opportunity presents itself and we’ll see where it goes.”