Bumped. GO BRUINS. -BN Eds.
First, let me say I'm a geezer in training. Before the football season started, I got email information on the new Horizon Club, a super-duper exclusive club at the Rose Bowl for people to enjoy gourmet cuisine and the only area in the stadium (outside of the Premium seating and Suites) to buy alcohol. Following some brief consideration, I bought two memberships as I have two season tickets. Per membership cost, $300 (working out to $50 per person per home game). After I bit the bullet, I saw some heckling of the Horizon Club on this site. So I felt like a bit of a sucker. Was I a sucker? Well, here are my perspectives on the Horizon Club after two games.
Let me start by stating the considerations for me in purchasing the memberships, and that way I can compare the Horizon Club with the alternatives before reaching conclusions.
My commute to the Rose Bowl is two hours from the desert. Usually, I'm with one of my boys (they are both 9 years old). Therefore, I am not a tailgating type of person. I always park off site at the Parsons lot and take the shuttle. Once we arrive, we have two objectives, restrooms and food (pre-geezer, need I say more?). Depending on kickoff time, sometimes we can go to Oldtown Pasadena, but usually this is saved for dinner after an early game. At the Rose Bowl the options are the Fan Zone and the stadium.
My kids have pretty much outgrown the Fun Zone area for children, and I have outgrown the porta-potties. There are a few choices for food, but these involve buying something called script. If you've never been there before, you have to anticipate what food/drinks you are going to buy at the booths, and purchase $1 tickets corresponding to your future purchase at a stand before you get in line. Then, the line for something like Carl's Jr. (my kids' first choice of course) can be up to a half hour, especially if there are visiting high school kids there. Once you have braved that, then you have to jockey for a table, chairs, and if its hot, shade. The Bruin fans are always nice, but finding a place to sit can be a challenge. Also, I have a bit of a disability, so walking on the turf with my 9 year old carrying burgers and drinks can be difficult for me.
Once in the stadium, the food choices are more varied, but you still have limited places to sit and eat. (People get pretty imaginative.) You can take your food back to your seat, but by that time it will be cold, and once again, navigating it is a challenge for me. Restrooms are better inside the stadium concourse, but these can get pretty crowded at half time. Forget about drying your hands after you wash.
So, with all this in mind, I became a charter member of the Horizon Club. You get a wrist band thingy to wear before you enter, corresponding to each home game. (The sticky tape from these things always sticks to my arm hair coming off, but I digress.) The entrance is by the base of the pressbox, not too far from my seats which are on 21-L. If my seats were on the UCLA side, I wouldn't have joined. For the Nevada game, I went with my cousin, who, like me is a UCLA Graduate School Alum.
We got there fairly early, around 6 pm, and were among the first to arrive. The staff upon entry was very nice, and one of them even put my sticky wristband on for me. There was a loud 3 piece band playing, a nice touch if you are into that, but I'm a geezer in training. We were immediately prompted to buy some alcohol. There was a table were they were selling canned Coronas and what looked liked strawberry Margaritas, also in cans. We got the Coronas. I then looked for food options. First big counter, all alcohol choices, no food. It was becoming apparent what this was, a place to get snockered before the game. Finally, a food counter. Typical pretzels, peanuts, nachos, "super" nachos (I haven't inquired) and something called "Pepper Bellies" (once again, I have no idea). There is a salad, and a hot dog option. Not looking too gourmet at this point. Then, I spotted the specials: a bacon wrapped dog and premium beer, or baby back ribs and a beer. I already had a beer, but if I wanted the ribs, I had to get another. This was a draft, but the poor guy could only get foam. It took awhile. Also, they were having a problem with their cooling units, and sodas and waters weren't cold, but they gave us cups with ice.
Around this time, the cheerleaders showed up, and my cousin and I got a pic with a few of them. They hung around for a bit and chatted with my fellow clubbers. There are places to sit (all of the high chair and table kind, not great for me), and big screen TV's showing the major college games going on. The sun was brutal, though, and there wasn't adequate shade from the awnings they had put up. That made eating somewhat uncomfortable. Also, as has been noted, this is an open-air facility, so it was pretty warm. Restrooms are nicer than on the concourse, but not very well maintained, despite an attendant outside the doors. I don't know what their function is, certainly not to keep the restrooms clean. But, there was no waiting.
For the NMSU game, I went with my son. "Specials" this time were a meatball sub or three "street" tacos with steak and guacamole, which looked like a "slider" version of a taco. Or, you could get the hot dog, nachos, etc. from the standard menu. Still, not looking too gourmet. One difference, they let us substitute the draft beer for a soda or water, which was cold this time. No sides came with (prev. week ribs had beans on the side), so we got fries and barbeque flavored pop chips to go with our subs. My son liked his sub, I thought it was just okay, and not as good as the ribs from the first game. Frankly, the pop chips were the best thing I had, and those came in a bag. The sun was not a issue this time, but no improvement with respect to restrooms or seating. Also, no band or cheerleaders for the second game. They do have some complimentary snack items, which were different each time, that can be brought into the stadium.
There was a very nice manager type, a pleasant young lady named "Bo" who came around to me and my son to ask how we were doing. I did offer suggestions as to how they could improve, especially with regard to food choices. My son even said they should offer at least a chicken option. She seemed interested in our feedback, so I hope things can improve. She acknowledged "issues" with the first game, and said they are making changes. It may be worth noting that the food is sponsored by Bristol Farms.
So at this point, I don't think I'm getting what I was looking for. If you want alcohol, this appears to be the place for you. For me, I'm looking for a comfortable place that I can sit and enjoy a pre-game meal with family or a guest without hassles. If they don't improve over the next four games, I likely won't be back next year.