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Many Rose Bowl neighbors oppose hosting an NFL team

Robert Woods #2 of the USC Trojans leaves the field after losing to the UCLA Bruins 38-28 at Rose Bowl on November 17, 2012 in Pasadena, California.
Robert Woods #2 of the USC Trojans leaves the field after losing to the UCLA Bruins 38-28 at Rose Bowl on November 17, 2012 in Pasadena, California.
Harry How/Getty Images

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Visitors from the across the country and the world have converged on Pasadena for the Rose Bowl and Parade. People who live near the stadium love the marching bands and intricate parade floats and at least tolerate the traffic tie-ups and tailgaters.

But not everyone is as warm and fuzzy about a National Football League team adding more big games to the Rose Bowl's schedule.  

That became a real possibility last month when the Pasadena City Council  passed an ordinance that doubles the number of large events allowed each year at the Rose Bowl in order to possibly accomodate an NFL team.  

The ordinance passed by a vote of 7 -1 at a meeting attended by more than a hundred people, most of whom were there in opposition to an NFL team renting the Rose Bowl while a permanent home is built elsewhere in the L.A. region. 

The councilman who represents neighborhoods near the stadium, Steve Madison, voted along with the majority, acknowledging that he too endures the game-day  hassles of living near the Rose Bowl. Six years ago,  Madison cast the swing vote against a plan to bring an NFL team to the Rose Bowl permanently. But that was before the great recession, and before major renovations at the 90-year-old Rose Bowl faced a funding gap of $30 million.

“This is different," Madison explained before the vote.  "This is a temporary matter where we have dire financial needs and an opportunity to address those."  

Madison and his colleagues who supported the ordinance insisted the vote was not for a deal with an NFL team, but to give Pasadena a chance to negotiate one if a team comes to L.A. 

"I know this won’t be popular unanimously in my district," Madison said.  He was right:  a number of his constituents have launched a campaign to recall Madison.  The campaign's web site features a harrowing video of a fistfight breaking out in the stands at an Oakland Raiders game against the San Diego Chargers.

“When you Google 'NFL fights or drunkenness,' you will see an infinite amount of fights and videotape on what happens both in and outside the stadium,” says Mike Vogler, the leader of the recall effort and a major opponent of the NFL at the Rose Bowl.  

Vogler, an attorney and accountant by training,  lives about a mile from the stadium.  He lives with his three young daughters in a beautiful old home on what he likes to call "the loveliest street in America." 

 The Rose Bowl is already home to UCLA football games. Vogler, a UCLA grad, is OK with those games. But he says NFL games would be too much.

“The NFL brings an element with it that is not particularly conducive nearly every week of large transitory and regional traffic," Vogler says.  "It’s no secret that there are often drunken tailgaters at NFL games.”

Vogler dismisses suggestions that he and his affluent West Pasadena neighbors are crying "not-in-my-backyard."

“The NFL is an oligarchy of billionaires. We are the 99 percenters here who live in this community. The NFL isn’t," Vogler insists.  "People from all walks of life come down to the Arroyo Seco and utilize it. They hike around it, they bike around it. Kids play soccer and fly kites.”

Indeed, near the stadium in the Arroyo Seco is the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center, Kidspace Museum, and the Brookside Golf Course. On UCLA game days, and during the Rose Bowl, those facilities are closed. The golf course serves as a parking lot. Two days after this year's UCLA-USC game on a rainy Saturday, tire tracks marked the fairways. 

“It’s all muddy, everything’s messed up," said George Andre, who'd taken off early from his marketing job to play a round.  "Kinda sucks being out here.”  

But Andre said he'd be willing to sacrifice the golf course, or at least its appearance, for an NFL team.  He sees pro football as an opportunity to bring more jobs  and money to the area. 

Andre doesn't live near the Rose Bowl.  He lives miles away in Hacienda Heights — not a neighborhood that could be affected should the NFL temporarily use the Rose Bowl. A future NFL team would be based permanently in downtown L.A. or the City of Industry. When reminded of that, Andre changed his tune.

“Keep it here. I don’t want it in Industry," he said, laughing. "That’s too close to me. I have enough traffic on the 60 freeway already. I don’t want anymore.”

If the NFL does come to L.A, it will be in someone’s backyard. But some people living in Pasadena don’t want the NFL to use the Rose Bowl — even temporarily.