Aug 9, 2012

Rose Bowl Premium Seating Promises Suite New Experience

Charles Peters - The Outlook - August 9, 2012

A look at one of the Rose Bowl's newly constructed suites, which are on sale now.
A look at one of the Rose Bowl's newly constructed suites, which are on sale now.

For the first time in the Rose Bowl Stadium's 90-year history, patrons looking for the best view in the house will have the opportunity to be seated in the lap of luxury.

The Rose Bowl is currently in the midst of a $175 million construction project that entails many cosmetic and logistical improvements to the stadium, but perhaps the most impressive of the changes are the implementation of modern luxury suites, premium seating and lounges that aim to reinvent the idea of premium seating.

“This building is going to be phenomenal in terms of amenities provided for the customers,” said Rose Bowl General Manager Darryl Dunn. “People will be really impressed and love what they see when they come to the first UCLA game.”

Roughly one-third of all the premium seats will be available by the time UCLA kicks off its 2012 football season against visiting Nebraska on Sept. 8, though all of those tickets have been sold. All of the luxury boxes, loge boxes and club seats will be ready for the following 2013 season and the director of special projects, Sergio del Prado, said that tickets remain available for that season.

The renovation and addition of premium seats located on Levels D, E and F of the press box structure on the west side of the iconic stadium is currently underway. The seats are broken down into 54 suites (accommodating between 16-24 guests per suite), 48 loge boxes of four seats apiece, and 1,200 club seats.

“We've never had a football experience like this in California,” said del Prado during a recent tour of the construction site. “There have been no premier seats, no club seats, no private clubs or private lounges. It's going to be a new experience.”

Each luxury suite will offer between 16 and 24 tickets to UCLA home games and the New Year's Day Rose Bowl Game, giving fans the opportunity to watch college football in a style unmatched by any other stadium in California. The interior of the suite – 40% larger than its predecessor – will feature upscale furnishings, an under-the-counter refrigerator, drink rail with bar stools, storage cabinets, a buffet counter, a wet bar and a flat-screen television with inhouse feed and cable.

Between four and six guest passes will be granted to the suite for other event ticketholders. Suites are also outfitted with concierge service and a suite attendant, and are located just steps away from new clubs and lounges. Furthermore, suite holders and their guests will have access to private restrooms on the premium level.

Club level seats will be available soon at the Rose Bowl.
Club level seats will be available soon at the Rose Bowl.

“Each suite is three times the size of old one,” said Dunn. “It's a far superior experience than anything else we've had at the Rose Bowl.”

If a smaller number of fans desire luxury at a UCLA football game, four-seat loge boxes on Level D will be available. The loge boxes come with 12-inch personal flat-screen televisions, cushioned seats, a parking pass, food and non-alcoholic beverages.

Loge box ticket-holders are also granted access to the 4,000-square-foot loge box lounge and have up-scale dining options, along with a concierge service.

“It's all about the location because all of them are between the 40 [yard-lines],” said Dunn. “There's not a product similar to them in southern California. If anything's close, it would be the boxes at the Hollywood Bowl, but with modern VIP amenities added.”

A loge lounge will offer spectators a unique enviornment to relax before,
after and during games.
A loge lounge will offer spectators a unique enviornment to relax before, after and during games.

Club seats on Level D and Level E are also a new addition to the Rose Bowl's premiere seating options. The outdoor seats offer more than three feet of legroom, 50% more than the standard seats inside the bowl and tickets include food and non-alcoholic beverages. Club seat holders are also granted access to an exclusive 15,000-square-foot club lounge and a complimentary parking space for every four tickets purchased.

“It's an upgraded experience from [sitting inside the stadium],” Dunn said. “They'll have all the amenities, access to lounges and if you want to have a glass of wine or a beer, you have that ability.”

Suite holders, loge box holders and club seat ticket owners will feel the VIP experience before they arrive in the climate-controlled interior suite or sit in the extra-wide, cushioned exterior seats. Suite holders and guests can park in a preferred VIP lot close to the stadium and all premium seat owners enter the Rose Bowl through a private entrance and ascend to their boxes on private elevators and escalators. The Rose Bowl also offers an optional feature of company identification at the concourse entrance to the suite for corporations.

Additionally, suite holders, loge box seat holders and club seat holders receive the first right to purchase suites for other Rose Bowl events, including concerts, international soccer matches and the BCS National Championship game.

Dunn said that the planning for the luxury seats drew inspiration from classic baseball stadiums such as Fenway Park, Wrigley Field and Camden Yards. Boston's Fenway Park (opened in 1912) and Chicago's Wrigley Field (opened in 1916) were of particular interest to Dunn because planners were able to add luxury suites and seat options without undergoing construction that compromised the stadium's historic feel.

“A lot of the challenges that they have, we have,” Dunn explained. “It's an old, historic stadium and they turned it around.”

Dunn said he began to envision a more modern Rose Bowl in 2002 and the plan was approved in 2010. Construction started in January of 2011 and nearly 600 workers are making improvements to the stadium six days a week from early in the morning to late at night in an effort to finish entire project in time for the 100th Rose Bowl game on New Year's Day, 2014.

A current view of the press box building, home of the premium seating. (Photo by Nick Ostiller/Outlook
A current view of the press box building, home of the premium seating.

“Frankly, building a new stadium costs $1 billion. We'll end up spending a little over $160 million,” Dunn said. “There's a balance between trying to make the facility better and also fiscally understanding how much money you have.”

Just how much money is available has been an area of concern for Rose Bowl officials. But despite widespread speculation that the project is going over budget, Dunn said Monday that if the total price tag changed, it would be shifting downward.

The project is being primarily funded through bonds, but a helpful group of local residents is also contributing a large sum of money to help get the project completed.

“A huge benefit to us is the Legacy Campaign, a nonprofit group established by private citizens who are primarily Pasadenans,” Dunn said. “The Rose Bowl is a college football stadium, but we don't have [college] donors. So our civic philanthropic organization has pledged to raise $20 million. They've already raised $8 million of the $20 million and they'll get there.”

Among the other projects going on inside the Rose Bowl are a few cosmetic changes – workers up-dated a historic clock and added LED scoreboards – and also logistical changes, such as widening eight tunnels that allow guests to enter and exit more rapidly. According to del Prado, the tunnel widening will take the Rose Bowl's capacity from 93,000 to 86,000 but will cut egress time in half.

“We wanted to modernize without changing the feel or look of the place,” del Prado said. “We wanted to impact as much as we could to the overall positive game experience for people without tearing down and rebuilding.”

A depiction of a club lounge bar, accessible to patrons with premium seat tickets.
A depiction of a club lounge bar, accessible to patrons with premium seat tickets.