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Rose Bowl Tickets Get New Rules : Pasadena Board Answers Criticism

October 29, 1987|ASHLEY DUNN | Times Staff Writer

PASADENA — In an effort to quell public complaints and bad publicity, the Board of Directors has agreed to tighten controls over the 1,200 Rose Bowl tickets city officials have been allowed to buy and resell each year.

Starting this season, the names and addresses of ticket buyers will be made public, and recipients must sign a form promising not to resell the tickets.

The board also agreed Monday to limit the sale of tickets to friends, relatives and those who live or work in Pasadena, a move that some directors criticized as meaningless.

The new controls will apply to the 100 tickets each director and the city manager are allowed to buy, as well as the 400 tickets that go to volunteers and city departments such as the Police and Fire departments.

City officials will still receive 2,100 free Rose Parade grandstand tickets, and directors will continue to receive a special VIP package with four free game tickets, four parade tickets and four invitations to a Rose Bowl luncheon. The names of those receiving grandstand tickets will also be released.

The proposal, made by Director William E. Thomson Jr., was approved on a 5-1 vote, with Mayor John C. Crowley in opposition. Director Loretta Thompson-Glickman, who has long supported maintaining the current ticket system, was absent.

Crowley said he had no desire to change a policy that, except for a few disparaging news articles, has worked well.

"What we're doing here is testing something that has been in place for 60 years," Crowley said. "I'm not tempted to tamper with tradition."

Crowley added: "I think we are being defensive. It is the press that has put us in the position of doubting our ethical practices. I'm perfectly content with the way it works."

The other board members, however, thought it was time to change a tradition that has been called unfair, elitist and potentially a conflict of interest because the board often votes on issues concerning the Tournament of Roses.

"We have a deeply ingrained egalitarian sense that says, 'The big shots probably get more than their share, and they shouldn't,' " said Director Rick Cole. "I just don't want people to criticize us for being big shots."

Sought Stricter Curbs

Directors Cole, William Paparian and Jess H. Hughston had pushed for even stricter limitations, such as reducing the number of tickets for each director from 100 to four.

But Thomson, Crowley and Director Kathryn Nack were unwilling to budge, forcing the three other directors to accept Thomson's compromise.

Thomson's proposal solved what he said was the basic problem with the city's system of distributing the tickets--the lack of public accountability.

Under the old system, board members were each allowed to buy 100 Rose Bowl tickets at face value and sell or give them to whomever they pleased. The tickets, which have a face value of $38 each, can go for as much as $300 on the open market.

In the past, directors have distributed their tickets in a variety of ways, including selling them on a first-come, first-served basis, distributing them by a random lottery or simply providing them to friends, business acquaintances, political supporters or volunteers who have worked for the city.

The ticket issue flared last January when directors each received 100 Super Bowl tickets, some of which were later resold without their knowledge for several times the face value. At the time, tickets were selling for as much as $1,500 on the open market.

"I don't think we're in the business of making money, and I don't think we're in the business of helping someone else make money," Thomson said.

By listing the names and addresses of ticket buyers, Thomson said, the city will avoid raising suspicions that the tickets have been used inappropriately.

Lukewarm Response

"I don't know of any of us who have misused or abused the system," he said, "but I do think it's time to make some modifications."

But Thomson's plan received a lukewarm response from Hughston, Cole and Paparian, who said it failed to address other important issues concerning the tickets.

Cole said the directors' allotment of 100 tickets each was an unfair privilege that should be eliminated.

"There is a raw nerve that nobody should get it wholesale if everybody can't," he said.

Thomson responded that he regarded the distribution of the tickets as a "special responsibility" of the board.

"Who better than a director to take the heat?" he asked. "We ought not to be ashamed about it."

Hughston also questioned whether Thomson's proposal would help increase the number of tickets available to Pasadena residents, since the new requirements will allow just about anyone to receive a ticket.

"Are the citizens of Pasadena going to have any increased benefit?" he asked. "In my view, we're right where we started."

The debate over the tickets also sparked a heated exchange between Paparian and Thomson over the distribution of all 100,932 Rose Bowl tickets.

Of the total, 53,718 go to the Pac-10 conference, 22,293 go to the Big 10, 21,421 go to the Tournament of Roses Assn., and 3,500 are sold to the public through a lottery, said Bill Flinn, spokesman for the Tournament of Roses Assn.

More for Public

Paparian said that since the Rose Bowl is a city-owned facility, more tickets should be made available to the public.

"In my view, the reverse of the present system is what we should have," he said. "Instead of 21,000 tickets going to the Tournament of Roses, they should have 3,500, and 21,000 should go to the public."

Paparian's comments elicited an angry response from Thomson, who is a member of the Tournament of Roses Assn.

"If the thought is we're going to take on the tournament as an adversary, I don't want any part of it," Thomson said.

Thomson added that the city receives nearly $500,000 each year to improve the area surrounding the Rose Bowl through its arrangement with the association.

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