“LA is the most competitive stadium and arena market in the world, and while we’re not going to go and compete with brand new buildings that have huge video boards hung from a roof that we don’t have, that’s not our point,” Weiden said.
“We cherish our setting; it’s what sets us apart,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean we can’t invest in different video board products and other fan amenities when it comes to legroom, aisles and seats. Those are the really exciting ones that I think you’ll see in the next year or two that are going to come out and our foundation is going to raise money toward. It will make the experience match the expectation for folks that travel across the country to come to the Rose Bowl.”
Stadium operators are already thinking about how to accommodate more fans and experimented with grab-and-go concession stands that served as mini markets with self-checkout kiosks during this year’s Rose Bowl game. Weiden told council members that sales of those stands doubled as a result of speedier purchases. Food and beverage at the stadium are run by Levy Restaurants, which also works with Big Ten teams Ohio State and Northwestern.
“People in LA have a lot of options with their entertainment dollar, where they can spend that, and especially UCLA fans that come out to maybe six games a year,” Weiden told the Council. “To make sure we reduce the friction is very important. That is something we’re very much focused on, on our limited concourse, because there’s no real room to move out, so we’ve tried to get better with what we have.”
Having a century-old structure has its limitations and challenges with costly maintenance and outdated amenities that can make it difficult to keep up with the competition, specifically SoFi Stadium, but the RBOC still manages to draw big names from the music industry to its unique site that includes the surrounding Brookside Golf Course, distributed over 200 acres.
Rose Bowl Stadium has averaged 25 large-scale events over the past two years, and Weiden was “happy to report that our event bookings are at the highest level they’ve ever been.” RBOC has a partnership with AEG Goldenvoice to produce outdoor festivals on the golf course, which is also where football and soccer fans gather to tailgate prior to games.
“We are the best festival site in Los Angeles,” Weiden said. “[Our partnership with Goldenvoice has] become one of the most exciting parts of our business, because it leans on what makes us special, and that’s our setting. People walk on the site, look around and can’t believe they can go sit on beautiful grass or underneath an oak tree or get food and sit next to the lake between stages.”
Weiden wants to continue building on that vision, one that Coldplay frontman Chris Martin shares. The band, which canceled shows at SoFi Stadium last year due to production issues, announced in January they will perform two nights this fall at Rose Bowl Stadium, a place Martin recently called “special” during an interview with an LA radio station.
“We were supposed to play another place last year and then we had to postpone it because of various reasons,” Martin said during the broadcast. “The Rose Bowl is our favorite place to play now, because it’s open and old and beautiful and simple.”
Coldplay won’t be the only big name at the stadium this year. Karol G, one of the most successful female Latin solo acts in the live industry, will perform two nights in August.
“Getting busy with events helps us in all areas to do business — leverage sponsorship sales, season ticket sales because customers get additional content, revenues to invest in the building and return more money for promoters,” Weiden said.
While there are plenty of concerts and music festivals to go around for venues in southern California, the Rose Bowl must be aggressive to generate revenue that would allow the RBOC to invest in the site’s aging infrastructure and meet the demanding expectations of fans. Most important, they need to prove that budget projections are legitimately real and not wishful thinking.
“The focus for us is to stay relevant,” Weiden says. “We need to make sure that our events are successful, work with our partners on the music festival side, work with UCLA and the Tournament of Roses. It’s what is going to build the top of the funnel. If you work well with events, more events come into that. We need to prove our financial performance. Over the next two years, we need to step up and make sure we deliver, and we will.”