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Friday, June 23, 2006
Pasadena group fighting Rose Bowl NFL effort

Associated Press

PASADENA, Calif. -- Revival of the city's bid for a National Football League team faces a challenge from residents who have filed suit to keep the city's Rose Bowl initiative off the November ballot.

Pasadena First, a group of residents and preservationists organized to keep professional football out of the city, argued in a Superior Court motion Thursday that the ballot measure is "blatantly unconstitutional."

The motion seeks a preliminary injunction. A tentative July 28 court hearing was scheduled.

The November initiative, if passed, would give the NFL rights to play at the Rose Bowl for up to 55 years in exchange for a $500 million-plus renovation of the stadium and $500,000 annual rent.

Pasadena First said it was illegal to negotiate a lease deal through the ballot box. Additionally, the group said the California Constitution explicitly prohibits the use of an initiative to impose terms on a private corporation.

"Why go through a useless election when the thing is unenforceable?" Pasadena First chair Carolyn Naber asked.

Councilman Chris Holden, chief sponsor of the ballot measure, said the legal move by Pasadena First is an attempt to thwart the will of the people.

Pasadena First filed suit last year but let the matter sit idle until Holden qualified his measure for the ballot.

"They should not be afraid to let the rest of the people in this community have a vote," Holden said. "I really like it if they would be able to see beyond their own special interests on this."

Holden also disputed the view that Pasadena is no longer a serious contender for a professional football team because of NFL interest in Anaheim and the Los Angeles Coliseum.

"Those are not slam-dunk deals. We have just as good a chance at prevailing in this," Holden said.