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Unfinished big-ticket Rose Bowl seating selling fast

The premium seating pavilion, with amenities designed for long-term revenue, has yet to open. Total stadium renovations are priced at $181 million.

April 29, 2013|By Joe Piasecki, Los Angeles Times
  • George Cunningham, Rose Bowl Operating Co. chief operating officer, sees the progress of some of the loge boxes at the Rose Bowl. A television will be installed in each table soon.
George Cunningham, Rose Bowl Operating Co. chief operating officer, sees… (Raul Roa / Glendale News-Press )

The Rose Bowl's new premium seating pavilion has yet to open, but stadium officials say seats are already selling fast.

Construction of pavilion and press box levels on the stadium's west side has been the most significant — and expensive — aspect of ongoing stadium renovations now priced at $181 million.

The renovation was originally billed as a $152-million effort in 2010, but projected costs climbed to nearly $195 million before city officials down-scaled some planned improvements earlier this year.

The pavilion, expected to cost about $84 million, was the source of about $31 million in unanticipated costs, according to stadium documents.

Officials blamed overruns on faulty architectural records that hid costly construction challenges and an accelerated work schedule to accommodate the UCLA football season. Now that installation of escalators and scattered design elements are all that remain, city leaders are breathing a sigh of relief.

"I think we're definitely over the hump," Pasadena City Councilwoman Margaret McAustin said. "This is a very important milestone for the Rose Bowl and the city."

The 185,000-square-foot, tri-level pavilion replaces roughly 50,000 square feet of press box and archaic luxury suites with two glass-walled press areas and various patron amenities designed to boost long-term revenue and keep the 1922 stadium competitive with newer venues, Rose Bowl Chief Operations Officer George Cunningham said.

The expanded layout features 48 midfield loge boxes with access to a shared indoor loge lounge below 54 indoor/outdoor luxury suites on two upper levels. Flanking loges and suites are 1,199 club seats on two levels with access to a pair of club lounges.

Extending stadium walls also made room for a new upper concourse with concession sales for ticket holders directly below the pavilion.

Revenue generated by suites, loges and club seats is expected to exceed $7 million per year, said Cory Shakarian, vice president of Legends, a company hired by the Rose Bowl to market pavilion seating.

"We've come a long way," Shakarian said. "I think we're certainly going to hit $7 million. At this point we're approaching $5 million in sales, with 4 1/2 months leading into the UCLA season."

The stadium has already sold three-, seven- or 10-year leases for about 75% of the 16- to 30-person suites, with pricing at about $20,000 per year for the UCLA season or $47,500 to add in the Rose Bowl game, Shakarian said. Suites can also be rented during other events and on off days for business meetings and private parties.

Four-seat loges sell for $16,000 or more per season, and annual club seat access goes for upward of $2,000 per seat, with food and parking included in both options, Shakarian said.

The pavilion's completion — and the revenue it brings — "is a significant step toward ensuring the Rose Bowl contributes greatly to Pasadena's future," said Pasadena City Councilman Victor Gordo, president of the city-appointed Rose Bowl Operating Co.

"This construction project, like any other, has been difficult," he said. But "Pasadena will be proud of this stadium for generations to come."

The Rose Bowl will begin hosting private group tours in May and start public tours in June after pavilion escalators are completed and ground-level restrooms that were demolished last year are rebuilt, Cunningham said.

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