Jun 5, 2011

Private group raises more than $3 million for Rose Bowl renovation

Brenda Gazzar, Staff Writer ~ Pasadena Star News ~ Posted: 06/05/2011 07:03:06 AM PDT

PASADENA - A private fundraising group created to close a $12 million gap in the Rose Bowl's $152-million renovation project has raised more $3 million in gifts and pledges since January.

Among the donations to Legacy Connections, which is spearheading the private Rose Bowl Legacy campaign, is a $500,000 gift from Pasadena residents Carolyn and Charles Miller.

In exchange, the couple will have their names placed above one of the historic stadium's tunnels, Tunnel 19, officials said.

“It's a good start,” Rose Bowl CEO and General Manager Darryl Dunn said. “We're grateful, and we want to do everything we can to raise more.”

In all, Legacy Connections aims to raise $25 million for the 89-year-old stadium's renovation, which began in January and is expected to take three years to complete.

The project will include tripling the number of premium seats in the press box - with sales of premium seating helping to 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 by widening the tunnels and making other improvements.

Funding is coming primarily from proceeds from bonds issued by the city, in addition to cash from the city, the Tournament of Roses and UCLA. City officials have promised not to dip into the city's general fund to pay for the project.

To close the projected funding gap, Rose Bowl officials and civic leaders formed the Legacy Connection and a donations incentive program that allows top-level donors to have parts of the Rose Bowl named after them.

The group will soon announce the name of the new press box in honor of one such donor. On Thursday, the Rose Bowl Operating Company board agreed to a minimum donation of $3 million in exchange for the press box dedication.

“The goal is to get over $5 million or closer to $10 million,” Dunn said. But “we wanted to put it at a level that we are confident we can attain.”

The naming of the press box “will recognize one of the great contributors to the legacy of the Rose Bowl,” according to an RBOC report, but Dunn declined to disclose the name of the person selected.

That person has not yet been notified of the honor, Dunn added.