The announcement at a press conference today that the Pasadena City Council has approved a $152 million renovation of the Rose Bowl that will start in January and be finished sometime before the 2013 football season — in time for the 100th Rose Bowl game — bodes well for an 88-year-old facility that’s been a historic landmark property in Southern California.
And, they’re still keeping those awesome metal bench seats that burn your legs on a sunny day, right? And keeping the cellphone reception to less than a half-bar, if we’re lucky, correct?
But we do know they’re adding a hedge on the field, like at the University of Georgia. And cutting the seating capacity down to about 89,000. And a lot more stuff.
The promises made in a press release issued just prior to today’s press conference insist the Bruins will remain as tennants through 2042, with the New Year’s Day Rose Bowl staying put through 2043.
That’s forward thinking.
The Rose Bowl folks say that even without all the new, cool stuff, the stadium would still have needed $60 million in repairs just for safety reasons. So why not go more and really make USC feel less superior with its “renovated” Coliseum.
Primary funding for the renovations would come from bonds to be issued by the city of Pasadena — no additional donations or a spike in ticket prices are supposed to be required of UCLA fans to fund any of this. A private philanthropic group, Legacy Connections, Inc., will do the fundraising campaign to raise funds for additional project elements to complete the renovation. There will also be an internet program established soon that allows small donations to be made toward the project.
The work is supposed to be done before and after UCLA’s season and the Rose Bowl game. Groundbreaking should come in the middle of next month.
“We have been working diligently on this exciting project with the city of Pasadena and the Rose Bowl,” said UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero in the press release. “UCLA and the Rose Bowl have enjoyed a wonderful partnership since 1982 and we look forward to expanding on that relationship for at least the next 30 years.”
In a Q-and-A section of the Rose Bowl’s official website, it is asked: Does this mean Pasadena is trying to lure an NFL team, or a Super Bowl, to the site someday? The answer given: The residents of Pasadena defeated a ballot initative to negotiate for an NFL team in Pasadena. Improvements will preserve and reflect the traditions of the Rose Bowl as college football’s premiere venue while enhancing the stadium to attract high-profile events, such as international soccer, and concerts, such as the 2009 U2 event.
Another question asked: Why do this now in such tough economic times? The answer: It is taking advantage of “a window of opportunity” with current low interest rates, lower construction costs and the project is eligible for stimulus funding through Dec., 2010 with Build America Bonds.
And about that seat issue: Will they be changed?
That answer: “Fan comfort is a major consideration and seating is an important part of that.” And here comes the “but” for your butt: “However, due to the seating foundation in the historic landmark, the ability to alter seat spacing and size is limited. The Rose Bowl Organizing Committee and its stakeholders continually seek options to improve seating.”
In other words, bring a blanket. And be glad if you have a back to your bench. And hope that hedge doesn’t grow too high for your sightlevel.
So, what are they about to do? Here’s the list:
== Widening the tunnels from the concourse to the seating area, adding aisles and seat access from the field.
== Widening the concourse for easier access to restrooms, seats and concession stands.
== Upgrading restrooms.
== A 50 percent increase in concession areas.
== A new video board — 2 1/2 times larger than the current one.
== Fixing up the south scoreboard to keep its 1940s vintage look.
== A hedge around the field. “This will become an integral element of the field-level stadium access, acting as the barrier between fans and the playing field and improving ingress/egress to the lower levels of the stadium,” the release says. Don’t hedge your bets that this will go over well with anyone.
== The press box will be “substantially reconstructed” to include a “limited inventory” of luxury suites, loge boxes, club seats and lounge areas. It sounds as if the press who actually sit in the box won’t be all that upgraded, but we’ll be fine. Really.
After this season, the first phase will include upgrading the electrical serice, start on the south tunnels, fix the scoreboard, remodel some restroms and set the foundation for the new press box. In 2012, they’ll work on the north press box wing and center section, north tunnels 7A and 15A, field-level entrances and exits, and new restrooms on the south end. In 2013, the south win of the press box goes, the hedge goes in, more concourse improvements and the north tunnels get revamped,
More info: www.rosebowlstadium.com