Jan 25, 2011

$152 million Rose Bowl renovation marked in ceremonial ground-breaking

Project team still looking to plug $12 million financing gap

Brenda Gazzar, Staff Writer ~ Pasadena Star News ~ Posted: 01/25/2011 06:25:38 PM PST


Darryl Dunn, general manager of Rose Bowl Operating Company, speaks to officials at the groundbreaking
on Tuesday to commemorate the $152 million renovation of the Rose Bowl.
(Walt Mancini Staff Photographer)
 

Related story: Columnist Larry Wilson says the Rose Bowl is one for the ages


PASADENA - All eyes were on the Rose Bowl on Tuesday as stadium officials and their partners heralded the recent start of a $152 million stadium renovation project aimed at improving and preserving the historic venue for generations to come.

Officials converged on the field to mark a ceremonial ground-breaking for the 3-year renovation project - the largest investment in the Rose Bowl's history. Construction on the first phase began Jan. 10.

The project is slated for completion before the 100th Rose Bowl Game and the next BCS National Championship Game in January 2014.


Construction crews work before groundbreaking ceremonies at the Rose Bowl on Tuesday. (SGVN/Staff Photo by Walt Mancini)
 

“This is a day of historic importance for the city of Pasadena and for the great American college football tradition that it serves and has identified (with) over the last 88 years,” Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard said at a speaker's podium flanked with dozens of red roses.

“All of us are gathered on a space that is known as sacred land because of the rich tradition and history and the many wonderful athletic stories that emanate from Pasadena's Rose Bowl.”

Officials from the Tournament of Roses and UCLA - which are stadium tenants and partners in the renovation project - also praised the stadium and the makeover now underway.

As part of the financing plan, UCLA has agreed to play its home games at the Rose Bowl through 2042, while the Tournament of Roses has agreed to stage the Rose Bowl Game there through at least 2043.

“We're here to provide our support to make sure this bowl maintains the position as the most elite post-season collegiate football game in the world,” said Richard Jackson, president of the Tournament of Roses Association.

Not only did Texas Christian University become the first non-automatic qualifying team to play in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, ESPN and cable ratings from this year's game were “the highest of all time,” he said.

UCLA is one of the few universities across the country that does not have an on-campus football stadium, but the alternative “is certainly a wonderful thing,” said UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero.

“We don't have an on-campus stadium to call our home but we certainly do have a home,” he said of the stadium.

The project is facing a $12 million financing gap but that deficit did not take center stage amid Tuesday's pomp and circumstance.

However, a shortfall was mentioned when Andrea Van de Kamp, campaign director of the Rose Bowl Legacy Campaign, announced the names of donors who have so far contributed to the project.

Chuck and Carolyn Miller of Pasadena donated $500,000 to start up the campaign, while 16-year-old Brendan Doney of San Marino and friends raised and donated $10,000 to express their appreciation for playing a flag football game there earlier this month.

“We wanted to ensure that this stadium (renovation) is done right,” said Van de Kamp, who has said the campaign aims to raise up to $25 million in private donations to plug any gaps in financing and for additional stadium enhancements.

Before Tuesday's ceremony, Bogaard said the renovation project is needed to ensure the stadium's future.

He said he was confident the financing gap would be addressed as the project team works to analyze the shortfall and as Legacy Connections, which is sponsoring the Rose Bowl Legacy Campaign, ramps up its fund-raising efforts.

Funding for the renovation is primarily coming from proceeds from bonds issued by the city, in addition to cash from the city, the TofR and UCLA.

Despite the shortfall, city officials have said they do not intend to burden the city's General Fund to pay for the renovation.

The three-phase project will include tripling the number of premium seats in the press box, which officials say should help pay for the improvements, doubling the number of concession areas, increasing the number of restrooms and reducing the stadium's exit time from about 30 minutes to 17.

Since work started Jan. 10, the video board on the north side is in the process of being demolished and will be replaced by a "state-of-the-art" video board more than double its size.

Before the next UCLA football season, patrons will also notice a new south historic score board, four newly widened tunnels behind the south end Court of Champions and additional aisles at the south end.

The renovation will “preserve one of the most historic and important facilities in college football - actually in America,” while enhancing the experience for fans, Bill Hancock, executive director of the Bowl Championship Series, said Tuesday in a phone interview.

“We can't wait to be sidewalk superintendents and watch the progress,” said Hancock.


ROSE BOWL RENOVATION PLAN GETS RAVE REVIEWS

“I'm very proud of the fact...that Pasadena, UCLA and the Tournament of Roses have made a commitment to the future of an 88-year-old stadium. This doesn't happen very often if you look across the country.”
- Victor Gordo, Rose Bowl Operating Company president and Pasadena councilman

“This renovation really has to occur for the Rose Bowl to continue in the role that it's played, a very prominent role on Jan. 1 of each year.”
- Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard

“It's a way to preserve one of the most historic and important facilities in college football - actually in America - and yet enhance the experience for everyone that goes there.”
- Bill Hancock, executive director of the Bowl Championship Series.

“When we had the opportunity to partner with the city of Pasadena, with the (Rose Bowl Operating Company), and the Tournament of Roses to embark on this historic renovation, we knew the timing was right and we knew we had to move and of course we certainly did.”
- UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero

“We are looking to revitalize the iconic Rose Bowl stadium, something that will last for generations to come.”
- Richard Jackson, president of the Tournament of Roses Association


RENOVATION HIGHLIGHTS

  • Project's estimated cost: $152 million
  • Project timeline: Three phases, three years
  • Major upgrades: Widening up to 12 tunnels at the end zones, adding exit aisles, increasing concourse capacity, expanding restrooms, doubling concession areas, new video board, reconstruction of the south scoreboard to recall the 1940s vintage scoreboard, a rebuilt press box that will increase premium seats from nearly 600 to roughly 2500 seats, upgrading infrastructure and electrical service.
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