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Region divided as city of Industry prepares to vote on NFL stadium bond

January 19, 2009 | 12:09 pm

Nfl_2 When Mayor David Perez of the city of Industry looks out over a rolling, 600-acre site on his city’s eastern edge, he sees the future home of an NFL stadium and an economic engine that would bring jobs and tax revenue for the entire region.

When Joachin Lim, the mayor of nearby Walnut, imagines a stadium there, he sees a potential disaster: Traffic, noise and “passionate, emotional” football fans.

The eastern San Gabriel Valley has become the latest battleground in the decades-long -– and some say quixotic -– campaign to bring pro football back to the Los Angeles region.

The city of Industry, a city of more than 1,800 businesses and fewer than 800 residents, believe it has what Irwindale, Pasadena, Los Angeles and Carson lacked. Skeptics abound. But the city is taking a first step Tuesday, when its 84 registered voters will consider a $500-million bond that would pay for stadium-related infrastructure projects. And two days later, the City Council is scheduled to certify the project’s environmental impact report.

The plan, which includes the construction of four practice fields, restaurants, banquet facilities, offices and an NFL attraction -- has divided the valley.

Some neighboring cities, including West Covina and La Puente, passed resolutions in favor of the stadium, citing the economic boost that such a project could bring to the area.  But two of the stadium’s closest civic neighbors, Diamond Bar and Walnut, have mounted opposition to the plans.

They cite concerns about traffic and the effect that thousands of visitors to a stadium could have on their streets and their quality of life.

When billionaire Ed Roski announced plans last year to build an $800-million NFL stadium in Industry, part of a shopping and entertainment center he had been developing for the 600 acres of land near the intersections of the 57 and 60 freeways, he was doing so, he said, because he thought that having a professional football team was important for Los Angeles.

Roski, who is chief executive of Majestic Realty -- headquartered in Industry -- and was one of the key forces behind the construction of the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, was not alone in that desire. Since both the Raiders and the Rams left the region after the 1994 season, communities around the Southland have tried to rally support for NFL stadiums within their boundaries, to little avail.

Anaheim and Carson considered but ultimately abandoned the idea of building new stadiums. Pasadena’s Rose Bowl and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum were ultimately rejected as potential sites, either because they were civically unpopular (Pasadena) or structurally unsuitable (the Coliseum). Even if Roski is successful at obtaining the necessary civic support within Industry, there are still significant obstacles to his bid.

It remains to be seen whether the NFL would sanction moving a team to Industry. The city of Los Angeles continues to actively lobby for bringing a team to a stadium within its own boundaries. And the project may face legal opposition from Walnut or Diamond Bar or both.

-- Cara Mia DiMassa

Image credit: city of Industry

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