The Rose Bowl Stadium, one of the most iconic and well-known stadiums in the world, continues to thrive as it heads toward its centennial in 2022. Even with all the success, the Rose Bowl Stadium does have some significant challenges looming in the near future.
The Rose Bowl Operating Co., which oversees the Rose Bowl Stadium, is well-positioned after completing a $180 million renovation, with reliable anchor tenants in UCLA and the Tournament of Roses. Currently, operating expenses and the bond debt service comprise most of the $55 million annual budget. The ever-present need to operate with fiscal responsibility while maintaining the historic stadium is a daily challenge for the staff. And in the coming years, that balance will become even more delicate.
A $4 billion stadium in Inglewood is slated to open in 2020 and the United Airlines Memorial Coliseum is currently undergoing a $300 million renovation. In comparison, the Rose Bowl cost $270,000 to build in 1922 and the operators of the Coliseum are spending 60% more on its renovation than the RBOC did on the Rose Bowl renovation. These two entities will bring strong competition for events and the Rose Bowl’s legacy, location and reputation will have to withstand the challenge.
The RBOC has been proactive, with the Arroyo Seco Weekend, a summer music festival first brought to the Arroyo in 2017. Arroyo Seco Weekend has been met with enthusiasm in its first two years and the RBOC continues to partner with AEG to boost attendance in the coming years to ensure its long-term viability. The RBOC staff is also aggressive in attracting and retaining “ancillary events” (all major events other than UCLA football, the Rose Bowl Game and Arroyo Seco Weekend), which currently net approximately $3 million annually for the RBOC. However, with the increased competition for events in the coming years, this revenue stream may be at risk.
The creation of the Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation has been an unmitigated success. Legacy has raised more than $30 million in its six years of existence, supporting the renovation project in addition to funding supplementary capital improvements and community enrichment programs. It is currently in the midst of a $40 million campaign that we hope will be completed in time for the centennial.
The challenges from new competition, rapidly increasing operating costs, high expectations of the public and a declining golf industry hurting Brookside Golf Course, necessitate that the RBOC continues to be proactive and aggressive to ensure the future of the Rose Bowl Stadium for generations to come.
We invite the public to learn more about our historic venue and to visit as we work toward our next one hundred years.
Darryl Dunn is general manager of Rose Bowl Stadium.