Rose Bowl sticking with Arroyo music festival, not the NFL: Larry Wilson
|<b>January 20, 2016</b> - With the Rams coming back to LA and the Chargers and Raiders both also interested, concerns about the possible role of the Rose Bowl are inevitable. Larry Wilson has the scoop.<b></b> -|
|The Rose Bowl in Pasadena's Arroyo Seco during its latest remodel in 2011. (Staff photo by Walt Mancini)|
Just after the Rams announced last week that the football team was coming back to Southern California, I huddled over lunch with Rose Bowl General Manager Darryl Dunn and Rose Bowl Operating Co. President Victor Gordo.
The meeting was at their request, and I figured I knew why.
No — not that despite City Council and RBOC votes that have long recognized the distinct lack of enthusiasm with which stadium neighbors would greet the idea of an NFL team playing in the Arroyo Seco, they were going after becoming the Rams’ temporary home while a colossal, fancy stadium is built in Inglewood. The Rams are already set to play in the Los Angeles Coliseum until the high-rollers’ palace at the former Hollywood Park site is erected.
Instead, I figured that they were going to tell me that the San Diego Chargers had approached, and that the deal was too good not to look at.
After all, the Rose Bowl has more potential financial issues than you can throw a Hail Mary pass at. I say “potential” because it’s not as if the old girl is falling down or has cash-flow issues in the near term. But the citizens of Pasadena, who own the stadium, have invested over $165 million into it since 2011, using bond money to pay for construction that along with a general shoring-up includes 54 new luxury suites, 48 loge boxes, 1,200 club seats up above the hoi polloi and new press boxes and a broadcast center. That work cost more than originally estimated because of change orders, especially when rusted I-beams were discovered in the old building.
Ever since the new NFL realities have hit home, a number of practical Pasadena types — none of whom lives in the East Arroyo or Linda Vista, of course — have said to me, in essence: “Look, we could use the bucks. The Chargers ain’t the Raiders. What’s wrong with hosting them for a couple of years?” Gordo and Dunn are a) football guys and b) practical to their cores. But here’s the takeaway from lunch: They are having none of it. They will not be talking to the NFL, or going to the City Council to say they’ve changed their minds. “I think I might be the only elected official in the country,” said Gordo, who is on the council himself, “who has said no to the NFL — twice.”
But they realize that the new stadium in Inglewood will be a game-changer in so many ways. Promoters of big soccer matches will want to play there or at the Coliseum — including the potential Olympics. Concert promoters will seek it out — it will have luxury boxes up the wazoo. When the NCAA wants to bring the college football championship to Southern California, that new stadium is going to look mighty appealing. (But those knuckleheads who think the TofR would move the Rose Bowl Game itself to Inglewood? Sorry, guys: The contract goes to 2042.)
It would appeal to the Bruins, being much closer to Westwood. But RBOC members are rightly proud that the contract they signed with prime tenant UCLA is for 30 years, the life of the construction bond, and that it includes ancillary revenues such as concessions if the Bruins were trying to get out of the deal.
But the stadium still needs more money. The big Jay Z, Beyonce and One Direction concerts in 2014 were not popular in the neighborhood — having a lot of different one-off music shows “didn’t work,” Dunn says.
What the pair is still very much dedicated to having the Rose Bowl and the surrounding Brookside Golf Course host is the Arroyo Seco Music & Arts Festival, a three-day annual event along the lines of the highly successful Coachella event. Promoter AEG knows how to do this safely, cleanly, with great line-ups. It’s not a rave crowd. The event will inject a life-saving buffer of cash-flow into the stadium and city’s coffers. I salute the RBOC for protecting our investment, and I look forward to seeing you in the Arroyo for great music every summer of our lives.
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