Pasadena group fighting Rose Bowl NFL effort

6/23/2006 - NHL

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

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

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.