The World Cup game was going full tilt and, at times, the Rose Bowl's public address system drowned out Cam Currier as he talked on the deck of his hillside home about half a mile west.
Three helicopters and two airplanes towing banners buzzed overhead.
"Anybody can tolerate almost anything as long as it's temporary and occasional," said Currier, a member of the influential Linda Vista/Annandale Assn., which represents the owners of the pricey homes west of the Rose Bowl. "But I can see it getting to the point where it gets intolerable."
Anchored by eight World Cup games, including the finals this weekend, the Rose Bowl this year is hosting more major events--23--than ever before. Indeed, the number is almost twice as many as a 6-year-old cap on bowl events allows.
More events bring more money to city coffers, more recognition for Pasadena, potentially more business to local stores and restaurants.
But they also bring more street-clogging cars, more unruly fans and noise, and more nights disturbed by the stadium's bright lights.
Some residents on both the more affluent west side of the Rose Bowl and the more modest east flank accuse the City Council of wanting to turn the Rose Bowl into a "cash cow" to pay for services citywide at the expense of those who live nearby.
"I think the council will approve as many events as they can without causing an absolute uproar or revolt," said Penny York, another activist who lives to the west of the Rose Bowl. "If they think they can get away with more, and they're offered more money, they would do it."
Some city leaders, on the other hand, accuse aggressive residents of selfishly wanting the Rose Bowl to be a "lawn ornament."
Because of World Cup revenue, city officials plan to plunge an additional $1 million into gang-prevention and other city programs in coming months, at a time when other cities face cutbacks because of state budget balancing.
"We're not in a financial position where we can let the Rose Bowl sit unused," Councilman William E. Thomson said in a recent interview. "We're going to have to put more concerts in there, or something of that sort that brings in money."
The council is expected to decide soon whether to raise the cap permanently and if so, how many events of each type--sporting, concerts and so forth--to allow each year. The directors of the Rose Bowl Operating Co. established by the council, of which York is vice president, are developing a master plan for review later this year that would include those issues as well as making possible improvements to the bowl.
All told, the Rose Bowl will host about twice as many major events this year as it did in 1993: the Rose Bowl game, two Pink Floyd concerts, 10 World Cup events, six UCLA football games, as many as three Rolling Stones concerts and an Eagles concert.
The year is more than half over and there have been few problems so far, city officials and residents say. But the Stones and Eagles concerts are yet to come, and residents remember unpleasant times from similar events.
David Withers, a neighborhood association member who lives on Linda Vista Avenue, just south of the stadium, got an eyeful the day of the Guns 'n' Roses/Metallica concert in 1992.
"Before the concert they were arresting people," Withers said. "They had them face down and handcuffed in front of my house."
Chuck Fortlage, who lives on Richland Place just east of the stadium, said Pink Floyd fans urinated on the bank below his home during a concert in April. Residents also remember terrible traffic jams from one of the Pink Floyd concerts.
Currier, who lives on the hillside west of the stadium, endures a different kind of problem with concerts. Rose Bowl lights are left on into the early morning as workers alter or tear down stages after the events.
"You can read a newspaper in my bed at any hour of the night," Currier said.
Residents say the World Cup soccer tournament so far has been one of the most hassle-free of Rose Bowl events.
A small army of Pasadena police, California Highway Patrol officers, sheriff's deputies and security officers have kept traffic to a minimum in the neighborhoods. Extensive use of shuttles has also helped.
In addition, the soccer games have ended before nightfall, when noise and stadium lights become the most bothersome. Some neighbors of the bowl have even been able to cash in on the Cup, renting parking space in their driveways and selling cold sodas out of ice-filled garbage cans.
Nevertheless, residents must carefully plot out their personal times of departure and routes on game days to avoid being ensnared by traffic. And noise, even in the day, can annoy.
The blustery debate over use of the Rose Bowl kicked up relatively recently in the life of the stadium, which opened in 1923.
For many years, the only major events held annually were the Rose Bowl game and a Fourth of July fireworks show. The "Turkey Tussle," a football showdown between intra-city rivals Muir and Pasadena high schools, is also an annual fixture, but it is not counted as a major event because attendance is only about 6,000.
Cycling events were held at the Rose Bowl during the 1932 Olympics, and the stadium hosted soccer games during the 1984 Olympics. Super Bowls, including the 1993 game, have been played in the stadium as well.
More bothersome was the invasion of rock bands in the 1970s. Residents of nearby Arroyo Seco began complaining after groups such as Crosby, Stills & Nash and Journey fired up their amplifiers.
"Probably the most unpleasant was the invasion of the neighborhoods by people who were attendees of the concerts," said John Crowley, a former councilman and member of the Linda Vista/Annandale Assn. "People left trash, and urinated and defecated on private property, causing a serious disruption on both sides of the Arroyo."
Committees formed in response to the early concerts. And, in 1988, the City Council passed the "Arroyo Seco" ordinance, setting an annual limit of 12 major events a year. The ordinance defines a major event as one attracting at least 20,000 people.
The residents were happy. They still had to put up with bothersome rock concerts, but figured a few times a year was no big deal.
In 1992, for example, there were two rock concerts out of 10 major events at the Rose Bowl, a bowl official said.
But the cap led to a new set of concerns, this time about the stadium's bottom line. Especially after a consulting firm, McGlandrey & Pullen, reviewed stadium operations and found that from fiscal 1986 through 1991, the Rose Bowl lost money every year but one. The largest loss was in fiscal 1990, when the Rose Bowl had 10 events and recorded a $570,413 deficit.
City financial reports indicate the Rose Bowl operated at a deficit in the 1992 and 1993 fiscal years as well. Final financial figures were not available for the 1994 fiscal year, which ended June 30.
One recommendation from McGlandrey & Pullen was to increase the use of the stadium, a suggestion that has been embraced by the council.
The number of major events reached the limit last year. And this year, the City Council shattered the limit like an Olympic sprinter going for a world record.
The council waived the limit on major events to enable the city to host World Cup. Residents grumbled but accepted the decision. After all, it was the world's most popular sports tournament, and it would pump millions of dollars into the local economy.
Then last December, the council approved the Pink Floyd and Rolling Stones concerts. Arroyo residents protested but gained some comfort by extracting a promise from the council that no other events would be added this year.
That assurance held until April, when Avalon Attractions came along and offered the city $250,000 to add an Eagles concert to the bulging Rose Bowl itinerary. Again, the council decided 4 to 2, with one abstention, to go for the cash and infuriate some residents.
At that April meeting, York circulated copies of City Council minutes showing the majority promised no more events would be added after the Pink Floyd and Stones concerts. Relations were definitely strained.
"They made a commitment there would be no more events, but when a proposal came along with money, they still overrode it," York said.
Councilmen William M. Paparian and Bill Crowfoot voted to allow the concert, saying they are still unsure, despite the minutes, whether they voted for the cap last December. And anyway, the Eagles deal was too attractive to reject, they said.
Councilman Isaac Richard, who also voted to add the Eagles concert, could not be reached for comment, but Thomson acknowledged the council had broken a promise.
"It would certainly be better if we would have abided by the commitment that was made, but there are times when opportunities come along and you have to look at those opportunities," he said.
Councilman Rick Cole and Mayor Kathryn Nack voted against the Eagles concert, while Councilman Chris Holden abstained.
"I think the Eagles concert is a great concert, but we made the commitment," Cole said. "If you keep your word you have much better success in the long run."
So some area residents will be understandably skeptical as the City Council sorts out relevant issues in coming months.
What kind of events should be held at the Rose Bowl? Some city officials and residents would like to see a professional football team make its home there, while others are haunted by images of hard-drinking, brawling football fans. Some don't mind rock concerts, while others do. And there are always motorcycle races.
What if the council permanently lifts the lid on major events at the Rose Bowl?
More events and hassles won't necessarily follow, all parties say. World Cups don't dribble into town every year, and the demand for large concert stadiums is erratic.
But city officials are likely to be aggressive in their attempts to secure events. They say they also will be aggressive in protecting the neighborhoods, using some of the tricks learned from World Cup, such as extensive use of shuttles.
"One thing we've realized this year . . . we can accommodate this large number of events in a year without major consequences for the neighborhoods," said City Manager Philip A. Hawkey, who lives on one of the streets closest to the stadium. "The Rose Bowl can make money and provide funds to support city services."
Neighborhood activists indicated at a recent council meeting that they are willing to take strong measures to protect their neighborhood.
The council had met to discuss the possibility of the Los Angeles Raiders playing at the Rose Bowl while the quake-ravaged Los Angeles Coliseum underwent repairs.
As it turned out, the Raiders decided to stay put in the Coliseum, which is to be ready for the start of the National Football League season. But first, Nina Chomsky, vice president of the Linda Vista/Annandale Assn., gave the council a piece of her mind.
"There's a group of us who are willing to go to court if necessary," she warned.