[Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story reported that the result of the Council’s vote will be an agreement between the RBOC and producer AEG which “has still to be drafted and agreed upon by the full Council.” In fact, according to a City spokesman, the Council vote Monday night authorizes the RBOC to negotiate the agreement directly with AEG without further City Council approvals.]
Following more than five hours of public comment and Council discussion, the Pasadena City Council Monday night officially authorized a days-long Rose Bowl music and arts festival to be produced by a company made famous for its Coachella Music Festival in Indio.
The Council’s vote adopted a resolution to certify the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) for a new summer concert series to be called the Arroyo Seco Music and Arts Festival.
Premiering in the summer of 2017, the event would be produced through an agreement between the Rose Bowl Operating Company (RBOC) and Anschutz Entertainment Group, producers of the historic New Orleans Jazz Festival and the wildly successful Coachella Music Festival in Indio.
The two entities are now authorized to enter into a Licensing Agreement, which will be monitored after the first three years and then every five years after that, for up to 20 years. The agreement, once finalized, would increase the number of “displacement” events in the Rose Bowl from 12 to 15 per year without requiring further approval of the City Council.
The Council’s vote means that the RBOC is now authorized to negotiate with AEG to produce the Festival. The resulting agreement may be executed without further Council approvals.
“The RBOC will draft an agreement with AEG and return it to us,” said Councilmember John Kennedy, “but I believe it will be very similar to everything we have seen tonight.”
As described by city Senior Planner David Sanchez, the annual Festival would include up to four music stages, as well as a theatre performance stage, art displays, carnival rides, an onsite bookstore, as well as cultural programming “representative of Pasadena and the local environs.”
The four stages, some of which would be in tents, would be erected inside the Rose Bowl Stadium and on the Brookside Golf Course. The annual Music and Arts Festival would eventually have a capacity of up to 90,000 attendees daily, but would be limited to 75,000 daily attendees in its first year. The multiple-day events would begin at noon and run through 11 p.m. each day and evening.
Addie Farrell, EIR consultant from the ESA company, told the Council, the events would build upon each year’s success as the event grows, and would utilize modern state of the art technology for everything from communications to parking to neighborhood sound monitoring.
Eight public meetings were held throughout the community, prior to the final EIR, with five public scoping meetings and three more public meetings to preview the draft version of the EIR. During that time, according to Sanchez, many opinions on both sides of the issue were heard, although at Monday’s meeting, which included a number of Rose Bowl employees, local residents, and leaders of local resident associations — including the West Pasadena Residents Association and the Linda Vista Allendale Association — only one dissenting opinion was heard out of 25 speakers who had asked to be heard.
“We are unanimously in support of this event,” said Steve Mulheim, of the Old Pasadena Merchants Association, a feeling echoed by the vast majority of attendees at the meeting.
“This is a wonderful idea,” said resident Kevin Wheeler, who added that he was impressed by AEG’s presentation of the specifics of the concert series, saying, “They come off as trustworthy.”
Former LA Dodgers General Manager Fred Claire, now a member of the Rose Bowl Operating Company, said, “I’m here because I care about the Rose Bowl, and the RBOC has never been more prepared to take on an event like this.”
The support for the concert series was wide-ranging, as exemplified by Chris Otero, who spoke on behalf of Ability First, who explained that the concert series, could be the first many of them ever attend and praised AEG, for making such a possibility feasible.
“We are fully supportive of the festival,” added Fred Schenklen of KidsSpace childrens’ museum.
“This is very promising, and we couldn’t ask for a better partner,” said Jeffrey Baum, president of the West Pasadena Residents Association.
As detailed by AEG producer Nic Adler, the concert will utilize the latest in technology to ensure that the events run smoothly with minimum impact on the neighboring community.
“There will be no one down in the Arroyo Seco who doesn’t have a ticket,” he explained. “Tickets will be obtained off site, and designated parking will also be provided with ticket packages, eliminating searching for parking spaces, as well as ticket scalpers at the Bowl.”
In addition, microphones will be posted throughout the local neighborhoods which will monitor the sound in real-time and be able to reposition speakers in the Stadium, based on factors like weather and wind direction.
Adler added, “Safety is our top concern, and we want to make sure we get everyone seated quickly, and then making sure they can leave safely and quickly as well.”
The concert would also feature its own smartphone app for concertgoers informing them by text of traffic, rideshare and transportation options, as well as the most direct routes to their seats. No dates have as yet been set for the series, which will begin next year.