Jul 1, 2012

Rose Bowl stadium nears next phase

 

Delays, low bond revenue have left $35M budget gap for Rose Bowl work, official says.

Adolfo Flores - Los Angeles Times - July 1, 2012

Crews raise the final piece of structural steel in the Rose Bowl renovation during official Topping Out ceremony at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The piece of steel was raised to its location after workers and officials signed it. (Raul Roa / Staff Photographer / June 20, 2012)
Crews raise the final piece of structural steel in the Rose Bowl renovation during official
Topping Out ceremony at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The piece of steel was raised to its
location after workers and officials signed it. (Raul Roa / Staff Photographer / June 20, 2012)
 

Standing in a room that will one day serve as the Rose Bowl's nerve center, Darryl Dunn, general manager and chief executive of the stadium's operating company, reflected on the construction that's been completed, the ongoing budget challenges and the work ahead.

The $175-million Rose Bowl renovation is expected to bring the 90-year-old stadium up to today's standards and ensure it stands the test of time. It will boast an elaborate press box, now called the pavilion, eight widened tunnels and a new video scoreboard, all predicted to enhance the “fan experience.”

Still, the project has been beleaguered by unexpected costs that have given rise to a budget gap of $35 million. As work continues on the pavilion, stadium officials are now looking to the final phase of the project and considering some cost-saving measures.

“We've taken some huge steps to try to ensure the future of the project,” Dunn said, standing Thursday in the pavilion room earmarked for bowl operations. “It has been challenging, but we shouldn't be surprised. Right now we're weighing our fiscal responsibilities while still achieving our objectives.”

It is expected the pavilion will bring in $8 million to $9 million per year in revenue to cover much of the costs of the renovation work.

“That building is the primary way that all of these other things will be paid for,” Dunn had said minutes before, then standing on the field's 20-yard line and looking toward the towering pavilion. “It's one of the main reasons the building is so important.”

The whirring sounds of saws and clanging metal emanating from the structure can be heard from the parking lot as a crew of about 270 works to finish it. From the ground, the seven-level pavilion looks half done, with its slabs of gray concrete and 2,000 tons of steel beams.

By the entire renovation's current deadline, Jan. 1, 2014, it will host up to 2,500 people in its luxury boxes and premium seats, with air conditioning, bars and plush seats. The pavilion will ultimately include about 54 suites, 48 loge boxes and 1,180 club seats.

The pavilion is seven days behind schedule, as of the last Rose Bowl Operating Co. meeting, but last week crews signed and placed the last piece of steel onto the structure.

Premium seat holders will be able to watch the UCLA season from their seats in the fall of 2013, and up to 26 suites and 262 club seats will be completed for the first 2012 UCLA home game in September, according to Cory Shakarian, vice president of Legend Sales and Marketing.

It's been reported that the Legends campaign has raised almost $2 million in premium seat sales, with a goal of $9.2 million in sales. Shakarian declined to confirm those figures.

Dunn said unforeseen costs and lower-than-expected revenue from bonds sold in November 2010 are responsible for the $35-million funding gap. Some $13.5 million of the additional costs are related to work on the pavilion.

Sean Hollister, project manager for Bernards-Barton Mallow, the firm overseeing the renovation, said unexpected conditions have been a challenge for crews. It was discovered that unreliable records of previous work had been kept in areas where new steel was supposed to connect with existing steel. They also uncovered lead and deteriorating steel.

“As you hit certain areas, you hit different years of renovations... you think you're in the clear, but we weren't,” Hollister said. “Fortunately all the steel work is done... once you finish the infrastructure, the rest should go easy.”

With the bulk of the work for the pavilion completed in the second phase of the project, Rose Bowl officials are looking to the final phase, which will be put out to bid in the fall. They have until July 16 to determine which cost-saving cuts will be made to the plans for the third phase of the renovation, which was budgeted for $33.5 million.

The final phase includes the expansion of the concourse, the installation of 11 concession stands, widening four tunnels and $7.7 million in electrical work. Dunn said nothing has been decided yet; negotiations are also taking place with the Tournament of Roses and UCLA to see if work can be scaled down or pushed back in order to meet contractual obligations.

“The whole purpose of this is to make the Rose Bowl younger so it has a great life going forward,” Dunn said. “Doing that with a 90-year-old facility is difficult, but it's still worth it at the end of the day.”

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