Pay to play
Make the NFL help Pasadena take care of business
By Robin Salzer 12/12/2012
I am going to assume that the vote taken by the Pasadena City Council three weeks ago to approve the draft environmental impact report on an NFL team playing in the Rose Bowl will ultimately lead to the NFL’s entering into a contract with the city.
Despite the unanimous objections of the four neighborhood associations whose members will be most adversely impacted by this decision, the council voted for a quick financial fix.
The city now has a moral obligation and the fiduciary responsibility to extract the best deal possible. It is imperative that the following three items be added to the inevitable contract with the NFL:
1. The Pasadena Living Wage Ordinance
This ordinance currently excludes the Rose Bowl Operating Co. (RBOC) and the Pasadena Center Operating Co. (PCOC) from observing provisions of this law. Adding these provisions to a contract with the NFL will assure the residents of Pasadena that well-paying jobs with benefits will be available for all pro games. This includes security and all jobs currently being performed at the stadium.
The RBOC may not be able to afford a living wage agreement at this time, but the NFL can.
2. A Community Benefits Agreement with the NFL
A Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) is a contract signed by community groups and a developer or entity to provide specific amenities and/or mitigations to the local community or neighborhood.
In exchange, the groups would agree to publicly support the project, or at least not oppose it. The most important element of this contract is its CBA committee, which should consist of stakeholders, such as resident associations and nonprofit organizations. A CBA is also a legally binding contract that can be enforced only by the parties that signed it.
The city and the RBOC should enter into a CBA with the NFL that will benefit the Linda Vista-Annandale Association, the San Rafael Neighborhoods Association, the West Pasadena Residents Association and the East Arroyo Residents’ Association.
Other groups would include the Linda Vista Park, Linda Vista School, a job training program at the Flintridge Foundation and the Pasadena Unified School District.
An alternative idea to consider is designating Districts 1 and 6 as a Community Benefit District (CBD). San Francisco did this in 2004 with great success. It generally takes about 25 percent of motivated homeowners within the district(s) to initiate the process with the City Manager’s Office.
This is the more complicated of the options, but no contract with the NFL should even be considered without a CBA.
3. NFL investment in traffic control and neighborhood parking
The NFL should invest whatever funds are necessary to offset the costs of additional patrols and traffic control to ensure public safety for residents and game attendees. For each game, the free flow of alcohol and the larger number of tailgating parties will no doubt require increased patrols on the level of a New Year’s Day Rose Bowl game.
The Pasadena Police Department and the RBOC shouldn’t bear the financial brunt of what may require doubling the patrols and manpower necessary to maintain public safety.
A uniformed police officer should also be stationed at every street closure to assist the Pasadena Explorers in keeping out of our neighborhoods non-residents looking for free parking. The Explorers do a great job but can often be intimidated by loud and forceful non-residents without passes.
Before shaking your heads and saying no, let me remind you of a few things. The Rose Bowl is in the middle of a residential neighborhood. This isn’t Irwindale or City of Industry. The usual 12 major events at the stadium will now morph into 25 major events per year.
This is about business, and to do business in Pasadena, as anywhere else, will come at a cost. If the NFL says the city of Pasadena is going to make $5 million to $10 million dollars per year, make no mistake about it — the NFL will make a lot more than that. A hell of a lot more than that!
The NFL wants to play here, and to do that, the league should have to pay.
You can’t assess the cost of the adverse impacts on our quality of life, traffic access issues to our own neighborhoods, as well as the recreational activities at and around the Rose Bowl. All these will be disturbed, if not lost, for another 13 days of each year, all of which are priceless.
The mayor and the City Council hold all the cards. This is a poker game. Don’t blink on this one.
If the NFL wants to use our incredible city as a temporary place to play, it would behoove our elected leaders to remember that this is our home too. Furthermore, they swore an oath to represent us in a fair manner and to protect our neighborhoods, which are Pasadena’s greatest assets. Let the attorneys dot the i’s and cross the t’s on a temporary contract with the NFL that will prove to residents the city wasn’t blinded by the bright lights of NFL “star power.” In so doing, at the end of the day, the concerns of the residents will finally become their own.
Robin Salzer, owner of Robin’s Woodfire Grill & BBQ, is a resident of District 6.