Dec 10, 2011

Rose Bowl's premium seating sales exceed expectations

by Brenda Gazzar Staff Writer - December 10, 2011

Jason Gonella, left, Vice President of Sales for Legends, gives tour of sales office for Rose Bowl
America's Stadium for Brad DiPane and his father Jeff DiPane as they look at Rose Bowl model to determine
what premium seats they would be interested in. Jeff DiPane, a current suite holder, wants to learn about
the premium seating next year and in future years Tuesday, November 22, 2011. Gonella says the premium
seating sales team says its on track with its sales and has even been able to raise the price of some
of their products. (SGVN/Staff Photo by Walt Mancini)


PASADENA - Despite some recent setbacks in the Rose Bowl's $156 million renovation project, there is an apparent bright spot in the progress of the stadium's three-year upgrade.

Officials say premium seating sales for the new press box - which are key to funding the renovation - are on track and doing better than anticipated.

“We're feeling great about where we are,” said Jason Gonella, vice president of sales for Legends Sales and Marketing at the Rose Bowl. “We're getting more than we expected for suites and loge boxes ... We're getting more than we expected for most of the suites we are selling as well.”

As a result of its success with loge box sales, the premium seating sales team increased the price of the loge boxes from $24,000 to $30,000 annually for UCLA and the Rose Bowl Game, which is a 25 percent increase, Gonella said.

They are now selling most suites in the $90,000 range for both the UCLA and Rose Bowl Game, up from the average expected price of about $78,000.

Gonella attributed the increase to the value of the product and the UCLA name brand.

“I think for the initial people we met with, mostly existing suite holders, the differential between what they had and what they will get was so dramatic,” Gonella said.

The sales team has already sold 31 suites out of 54 so far and has commitments from seven more, he said. In addition, 14 out of 48 loge boxes have been sold and the team has commitments for two more.

However, Gonella acknowledges that club seat sales are the most important part of the equation since they will generate close to half of the revenue needed to pay the bond debt for the renovation.

“If we succeed or fail that will be based solely on the club seats,” Gonella said.

Club seats are being sold at $4,000 each per year with increases dependent on length of time committed, he said.

All in all, premium seating is expected to generate nearly $10 million a year for the Rose Bowl, he said.

Councilman Chris Holden said it's very important for the sales team to meet its revenue goals for premium seating.

“It was presented to us in a very detailed analysis that the market would bear a certain return of investment on those luxury boxes so we have to get it,” he said.

“People that made those presentations have to go out there, bring the clients in to write the checks and pay the bill. That's how we went forward, with the expectation that revenue was going to be achieved at a certain level.”

Rose Bowl CEO and General Manager Darryl Dunn said premium seating is the Rose Bowl's “long-term key for success” since it will pay for many improvements that will not generate revenue, such as tunnels, bathrooms, and utility upgrades.

“I feel great about our decision to bring in Legends and bring in outside experts given the importance of this entity,” Dunn said.

Legends is a joint venture between the Dallas Cowboys, the New York Yankees, Goldman Sachs and CIC Partners that was formed to service the concession and catering needs of the Yankees and Cowboys Stadium. Its premium seating sales and marketing division sells and consults for premium seating and ticket space.

Next year will be a particularly pivotal year, however, in terms of premium seating as well as private fundraising efforts through Legacy Connections, Dunn said.

“We're only months away from being complete; our premium seating sales need to continue to increase,” he said. “Our goal is to sell out by the fall of 2013.”

The Rose Bowl Legacy campaign has so far raised $3 million for the $156 million renovation project and is gearing up for a busy 2012 work plan, Dunn said.

The Rose Bowl renovation project is now facing a $16 million financing gap, up from $14 million in July.

The sales team recently launched its Website for the new premium seating products at