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Rose Bowl Press Box Expansion Cut Back : Construction: City directors are concerned that the project may not be completed in time for the 1993 Super Bowl.

May 02, 1991|VICKI TORRES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The proposed $8.5-million Rose Bowl press box expansion--a key element in getting the 1993 Super Bowl to Pasadena--has been scaled down amid concerns that it may not be completed in time for the game.

"We've been talking about this thing for a year, the design continues to evolve, the financing remains up in the air and how it's going to get finished on time remains up in the air," City Director Rick Cole said. "It's frustrating that a project of this importance is not getting more attention and focus."

City Directors William Paparian and William Thomson suggested turning over the project to the Tournament of Roses Assn. City officials are often busy with several projects at the same time, but the association could provide a special team with a sole focus of completing the expansion, Thomson said.

"This could be an enormous embarrassment for us if we don't get the project completed," Thomson said.

"I think that we may be deluding ourselves here unless we come to terms with the reality of trying to build this ambitious of a project in this short period of time," Paparian added.

Jim Steeg, executive director of special events for the National Football League, said Wednesday that he is confident Pasadena will complete the expansion on time because the city is using San Francisco architect Jerry Anderson. Since 1985, Anderson has overseen construction work for the NFL at various Super Bowl sites around the country, Steeg said.

"We have a great deal of confidence in him," Steeg said. "He's been on deadlines before with us."

In addition, Steeg said NFL and Pasadena officials will meet in June to determine what still needs to be done for the Jan. 31, 1993, game. The NFL is not providing any money to help Pasadena expand the stadium, Steeg said.

City directors were told Tuesday that a Hall of Fame museum, a lounge and restaurant have been dropped from the stadium expansion plans because they are too expensive.

Also dropped was the idea of creating 1,000 exclusive, enclosed "club seats" below the press box. Instead, 400 club seats will be included within the three-story, 996-seat press box now proposed.

The changes should keep expansion costs to the $8.5-million estimate, City Manager Philip Hawkey said. Anderson's San Francisco architectural firm, Bull Stockwell & Allen, is working on a new cost estimate that will be given to the board later this month, Hawkey said.

Meanwhile, the city has not figured out how it will pay for the press box expansion. The Board of Directors Tuesday approved the idea of issuing bonds, but no specific plan.

Bond counsel Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, which will be paid $55,000, and Ochoa & Sillas, which will receive $22,000--will devise that plan by mid-May, according to a report by Rose Bowl General Manager Greg Asbury.

The city lost money operating the stadium the last two years: $7,281 in 1989 and $18,731 in 1990, Asbury said in the report.

According to city budget reports, operating the stadium costs the city about $1 million a year. The city receives about $1.7 million annually from Rose Bowl events, the New Year's Day game, swap meets and UCLA home games. But that money is also used to pay off past stadium improvements and meet other city maintenance costs in Brookside Park where the bowl is located.

Those losses, coupled with capital improvement expenses, have left the city with just $1.7 million in its Rose Bowl Fund. The city may have to bolster that to avoid high interest charges on money it borrows for the expansion, Asbury's report said.

The report said the city could earn an additional $1.5 million annually from leasing the new club seats and selling ads on the scoreboard and soft drink containers. Cole, however, doubted that estimate.

But Thomson and other board members said Cole's concerns are being raised too late. "We're on the line with the NFL and we couldn't possibly rethink the project," said Thomson, one of the city's representatives who helped lobby NFL team owners in March to secure the game.

The expansion is also crucial to enabling the city to attract other major sporting events, Thomson said, such as the 1994 World Cup soccer tournament. Pasadena has been lobbying for that for a year.

The current press box is an addition built in 1961 to replace the original open-air press box mirroring the Greco-Roman style of the 1922 Rose Bowl. But the modern addition is worn, outdated and inadequate. Half a dozen trailers sit on top of the press box, an attempt at expansion.

Under the time line presented Tuesday, construction crews would begin in July to strengthen the existing two-story press box frame in preparation for major renovation after the 1992 Rose Bowl. The schedule calls for substantial completion by the fall of 1992.

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