PASADENA — Working on the premise that the Rose Bowl is an aging beauty who needs some cosmetic work to keep her beautiful, city officials are considering a wish list of more than $11 million worth of improvements for the 66-year-old stadium, including a new electronic scoreboard and luxury sky boxes.
"If we want to see the stadium continue on the path of being a classical yet serviceable modern facility to attract quality events, we think we're going to have to spend some money on it," Deputy City Manager Ed Aghayan said Tuesday.
Among the proposals suggested by city staff are a $1-million parking lot resurfacing job, a $350,000 press box elevator, $2 million in seismic improvements to the Rose Bowl's north end, a $1-million matrix scoreboard and more than $5 million in luxury suites.
But discussions at Tuesday's meeting of the Board of Directors kicked up some opposition to the plan.
Director Rick Cole worried openly that continued city capital outlays could increase pressure for more commercial uses of the Rose Bowl, because profits have been so small. "Whether intentionally or unintentionally," Cole said Wednesday, "we may be forcing ourselves into an arena where we have to attract professional football to break even."
Cole said that he agreed with the aim of "maintaining and upgrading the Rose Bowl as a state-of-the-art stadium." But he suggested that money for new capital improvements come from raising seat taxes, raising the rent charged to the UCLA football team and the Tournament of Roses, or imposing a fee for parking. "Because the Bowl makes money, we keep shoveling money in," he said. "As a result, not much money is coming out."
Aghayan said it is unclear exactly how much revenue the Rose Bowl generates because it is part of a larger fiscal entity, including the Brookside Golf Course. He said his staff is analyzing the stadium's fiscal structure, "to see how much of a capital improvement project it could justify on its own."
But Aghayan said that some of the items on the wish list are necessities and others could be financed by non-city sources. Structural reinforcement at the stadium's north end, for which city staff is proposing a $2-million bond issue, became necessary after recent earthquakes, he said.
The sky boxes, he said, would be largely paid for with private funds. "They'll have to be built on the basis of revenues they generate," Aghayan said. "We won't build the sky boxes unless there are tenants to pay the costs."
The Tournament of Roses has already expressed its willingness to pay for most of the $350,000 needed for the new elevator to the press box, said Aghayan, who is scheduled to report back to the board on fiscal implications of the proposals on May 11.