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City Won't Oversee Project at Rose Bowl : Improvements: The Tournament of Roses Assn. will direct construction of a new press box promised in time for the 1993 Super Bowl.

May 16, 1991|VICKI TORRES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Tournament of Roses Assn. will oversee construction of the promised improvements to the Rose Bowl press box that lured the 1993 Super Bowl to Pasadena.

Concern that the city was incapable of completing the project by game time Jan. 31, 1993, prompted the City Council on Tuesday to hand over the project to the 1,400-member nonprofit group that coordinates the annual New Year's Day Rose Parade.

But although Councilman William Paparian praised City Manager Philip Hawkey for admitting that the city couldn't do the project, Councilmen Isaac Richard and Chris Holden criticized the city for not trying.

"This is not a major, major deal," Richard said. "We should be able to do it in a couple of years."

Holden said the city was "abdicating and passing the buck." Holden and Richard were also concerned that the association will not comply with city requirements for using minority contractors. But City Atty. Victor Kaleta said the association will follow all city procedures to avoid violating the City Charter.

Richard finally agreed, but Holden cast the lone vote against turning the project over to the association. Mayor Jess Hughston abstained because he had accepted free tickets to last year's Rose Bowl game. Councilman Rick Cole was absent.

Improvements to the press box, a 1961 addition to the 69-year-old stadium, were one of the main reasons the NFL in March selected Pasadena for Super Bowl XXVII. NFL team owners had withdrawn the game from Phoenix because Arizona does not recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Councilmen William Thomson and Paparian suggested that the association oversee the latest addition to the stadium, which the association built in 1921 before turning it over to the city.

That concerned Pasadena Citizens for Representative Government, which questioned whether the city should give the project to a nonprofit group whose finances cannot be controlled and monitored by the city.

But Jack French, association executive director, said the city's contracts with the association are open to public scrutiny. In addition, he said the city has received $6.2 million from the association in the last eight years from Rose Parade proceeds.

The press box construction, as are other projects, will be managed free, French said. "It's being done in the best interests of this city," he said after the council meeting.

Meanwhile, Paparian asked for an audit of Rose Bowl operations. The stadium has lost money the last two years and Paparian suggested increasing the number of major events to earn more money. Currently, the city allows no more than 12 events with attendance of more than 20,000 each year. The council asked for staff reports on Rose Bowl operations.

The planned improvements to the press box--originally planned as a $23-million luxury sky box concept--have been scaled back twice to save money. The improvements now planned include revamping the two-level press box into three stories with the top and bottom floors set aside for more expensive booth seating, building three elevators to replace the current single elevator and improving the field lighting system.

Cost estimates range from $10.9 million to $12.5 million, but city staff members believe that the project can be completed for a maximum of $11.5 million.

Preliminary construction will begin in November, but the major portion of the work will be done after the Jan. 1, 1992, Rose Bowl game, French said.

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