In thrilling USC-UCLA football game, much-needed sellout rocks Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena – Whittier Daily News
He was galloping – his bright old self, basking in the shade of San Gabriel.
As Pasadena Mayor Victor Gordo said Saturday, the place was “alive and vibrant and home to two of the greatest football programs in the country.”
“Great day for Pasadena,” he added.
The home Bruins lost 48-45 in a thrilling game to the Trojans, who kept their college playoff aspirations alive. But the more than 70,000 fans who packed into the 100-year-old arena for Saturday night’s classic cross-town clash sparked a moment of urgency for a gem of a stadium fighting for life at a time when the shadow of multibillion-dollar, high-tech behemoth SoFi is constantly expanding down the road in Inglewood.
yes. The team needed a win. But so is The Rose Bowl itself. For Gord, he got it after a rough three years for the stadium and the city’s ownership of it.
First, this is the first time the Bruins have played the Trojans in the Rose Bowl since 2020. Expected attendance this season was more than 70,000, a stark contrast to the crowdless games played at the stadium during the pandemic. shortened season.
No one saw that the global pandemic would paralyze California’s booming economy. Amidst the economic carnage was the badly damaged Rose Bowl, just a few years after completing expensive renovations. What was once a self-sustaining, city-owned business soon became the subject of heated debate at Pasadena City Council meetings over its debt and shrinking balance sheet.
Hello Rose Bowl Man 👋🏽🌹 pic.twitter.com/H7IYSz8aX1
— James H. Williams covers UCLA football (@JHWreporter) November 20, 2022
As of April 2021, the operating budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year reflected a net operating loss of $3.9 million, leaving a cash balance of nearly $4.3 million. The pandemic only made the problem worse, creating debt obligations that, according to a report by one consulting firm, became the “biggest weight” in the stadium’s financial projections. Eventually, the city would have to dip into its general fund to keep things afloat.
In fiscal year 2021, the city paid approximately $11.5 million in debt service payments additional payments is projected. And as debt service payments increase, so will the stadium’s revenue shortfall, which preliminary estimates range from $5.4 million to $7.7 million a year over the next several years.
That being said, not everyone was convinced that the cost of investing in a city-owned stadium was worth it, especially given the increased security costs and ongoing renovation needs of the aging stadium.
The Pasadena City Council has been mulling whether to sell the Rose Bowl or lease it to a private operator as the 100-year-old stadium faces more than $200 million in outstanding debt.
Local officials know big events like Saturday’s rivalry game at the Rose Bowl can eventually draw crowds. But UCLA doesn’t always top the polls, so officials are hoping concerts and new football exhibitions will fill gaps in attendance and stadium balance.
Stadium administrators, university leaders and Pasadena City Council members say UCLA’s surprise move to the Big Ten could also shake up life at the debt-ridden Rose Bowl Stadium, where thousands of passionate fans from states like Ohio, Nebraska and Michigan will find their way to the sunny shores of Southern California for game Saturdays.
This year has not always been pretty.
Saturday’s giant Rose Bowl crowd contrasted with empty stands earlier this season when a record-low 27,143 fans turned out for a game against Bowling Green in September.
The number was well short of the previous mark of 32,513 set in 1992, but the 29,344 fans who attended the South Alabama game a few weeks later set the record for attendance at a UCLA game in Rose Bowl history.
The problem isn’t limited to this season either, as 32,982 fans attended last year’s home game against Hawai’i.
“It’s an embarrassment, but we couldn’t fill the Rose Bowl in 1988 when we were the No. 1 team in the country,” UCLA standout Troy Aikman tweeted in September. “Does anyone else at UCLA think it’s time to build a 30,000-seat stadium on campus?”
Experts attribute the low turnout to the heat, students not back on campus for the start of the college football season and non-conference opponents that don’t bother the masses.
For Saturday’s game, the north end of the stadium above the student section was covered with a tarp, and crews added a second set of tarps at the south end, lowering the maximum capacity from about 69,747 to 53,390. Without either set of tarps, the maximum capacity would be more than 90,000, similar to attendance Soccer Champions Tour during the exhibition at the end of July.
But tarp or not, Gordo said Saturday that one of the reasons the stadium won the game is because it portends better days.
“We can expect to see more big games like this with the move to the Big Ten Conference,” he said. “We’re going to have teams like Michigan and Ohio State come with their fans and supporters who love good football and the Rose Bowl. I believe that it will be great for the stadium, for the city, and for the economy of the region. … I am delighted. I think we should all be delighted.”
The University of California Board of Regents is set to make a final decision on whether to join the Big Ten next month.
If you compare the season to a football game, it’s clear that UCLA came back in the fourth quarter after struggling early.
Was the rally enough to declare the season a financial victory for the 100-year-old arena?
Gordo, during Saturday’s game, said it looked “optimistic.” “The combination of large and small activities of the University of California, Los Angeles contributes to the successful economic position of the stadium. We are rolling it out. We’re turning it around.”
UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond echoed Gord in welcoming the fans.
“The Bruins stepped up everywhere,” he said Saturday. “The atmosphere is intense and I am very grateful to everyone who took their seats before kick-off. The energy was great and you could tell our players were feeding off that.”
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