Sep 7, 2012

Rose Bowl's premium seating pavilion to debut Saturday at UCLA's first home game

Brenda Gazzar - SGVN - September 07, 2012

Darryl Dunn, General Manager of the Rose Bowl is looking forward to Saturday's UCLA-Nebraska football game.(SGVN/Photo by Walt Mancini)
Darryl Dunn, General Manager of the Rose Bowl is looking forward to Saturday's
UCLA-Nebraska football game. Workers Thursday, September 6, 2012, were putting
the finishing touches on the Rose Bowl ahead of Saturday's UCLA Bruins' first
home game of the season against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. (SGVN/Photo by Walt Mancini)
 

PASADENA - A few hundred workers Thursday put the finishing touches on the historic Rose Bowl ahead of the UCLA Bruins' first home game of the season.

The nearly 90-year-old stadium - which is about three-quarters of the way through its three-year renovation - will debut its new premium seating pavilion, formerly known as the press box, at Saturday's home opener.

Despite construction challenges in recent months, stadium officials said they have met their commitment to UCLA to have at least 1,000 high-end seats - including new suites and club seats - in the pavilion by Aug. 31.

“It was a very, very busy summer here,” Rose Bowl CEO and General Manager Darryl Dunn said. “A lot of people worked really hard to get to today and we're looking forward to showcasing this building to the UCLA fan base.”

In August, for example, crews had to work every Saturday until 2:30 p.m. and on weekdays until 10 p.m. to meet their deadline, Dunn said. Project team officials said Thursday they could not provide overtime costs.

The cost of the renovation has swelled from $152 million to nearly $179 million since its inception but stadium officials are currently in talks with tenants UCLA and the Tournament of Roses in an effort to put off about $14.3 million in planned work.

About $100 million has been spent on the project so far, Dunn said.

On Thursday, workers continued with last-minute preparations, including washing down the concourse, painting the football field and setting up concession stands.

The shell of the pavilion, which is nearly four times the size of the former press box and will offer almost triple the number of premium seats, is now complete. Pavilion ticket holders will now get to experience outdoor seats, hearing the roar of the crowd in the open air for the first time, Dunn said.

UCLA is “very, very excited” since “fans are going to have a chance to have a premium product that so many stadiums across America have,”" said Mark Harlan, UCLA's senior associate athletic director for external relations.

“On Saturday, we'll get to experience a great chunk of what (the pavilion) will be with the suites,” he said.

The renovation's progress is significant considering the stadium's old press box was demolished just 222 days ago and the structural steel of the new pavilion was completed less than 80 days ago, said Michael Cawlina, principal of the Bernards/Barton Malow joint venture, the renovation's project manager.

Twenty-six furnished suites containing 528 seats and 272 club suites are now ready for use. Another 260 people can be accommodated in the pavilion's media area and on a level dedicated to game day operations, stadium officials said.

To meet its strict completion schedule, the new pavilion had to be built around the former press box before the 2012 Rose Bowl Game and construction had to be stopped for UCLA games and the monthly flea market. The renovation is now “100 percent on schedule” to meet its January, 2014 deadline, Cawlina said.

Since the last UCLA season, fans will notice additional new improvements on the stadium's north end. As had already been done on the south end, four exit and entry tunnels have been widened and new aisle ways have been added, allowing spectators to find and leave their seats more quickly.

This is the second UCLA season fans sitting in the stadium's west end will have to use portable restrooms because of the ongoing construction work, Dunn said.

The renovation has also replaced the stadium's north video board and reconstructed a 1940s era scoreboard. Planned improvements still on the menu include field-level exiting for the first time, expanding the space on the concourse, widening another four tunnels, additional restrooms and concession stands.

Dunn said residents should be aware the game, which starts at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, will cause significant traffic around the area. Recreational users will not be allowed to park at the stadium starting 8:30 a.m. UCLA is organizing a fireworks show after the game in honor of new Bruins' coach Jim Mora.

About 60,000 people are estimated to attend Saturday's game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers, Harlan said.

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