Rose Bowl is an American outdoor athletic stadium, located in the Los Angeles suburb of Pasadena, California. Opened in October 1922, the stadium is recognized as a National Historic Landmark and a California Historic Civil Engineering landmark. At a modern capacity of an all-seated configuration at 92,542.
One of the most famous venues in sporting history, the Rose Bowl is best known as a college football venue, specifically as the host of the annual Rose Bowl Game for which it is named. Since 1982, it has also served as the home stadium of the UCLA Bruins football team. The stadium has also hosted five Super Bowl games, second most of any venue.
Rose Bowl Stadium History
The game now known as the Rose Bowl Game was played at Tournament Park though January 1922, about 3 miles southeast, adjacent to the campus of the California Institute of Technology. The Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association, the game’s organizer, realized the temporary stands were inadequate for a crowd of more than 40,000, and sought to build a better, permanent stadium.
The stadium was designed by architect Myron Hunt in 1921. His design was influenced by the Yale Bowl in New Haven, Connecticut, which opened in 1914. The Arroyo Seco was selected as the location for the stadium. The Rose Bowl was under construction from Feb. 27, 1922 to October 1922. The nearby Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum also was under construction during this time and would be completed in May 1923.
The stadium can be very difficult to access due to the traffic caused by single-lane residential street access. It has no dedicated parking lot for visitors and parking issues have routinely caused visitors to spend two to three hours completing the last mile to the stadium on game days. In 2016, Rose Bowl contracted ParkJockey to streamline parking in and around the stadium.
Dedication, October 1922
The first game was a regular season contest in 1922, when California defeated USC 12–0 on October 28. This was the only loss for USC and Cal finished the season undefeated. California declined the invitation to the 1923 Rose Bowl game and USC went instead. The stadium was dedicated officially on January 1, 1923, when USC defeated Penn State 14–3.
The stadium seating has been reconfigured several times since its construction in 1922. The South end was filled in to complete the bowl and more seats have been added. The original wooden benches were replaced by aluminum benches in 1969. All new grandstand and loge seats had been installed since 1971.
The 2006 Rose Bowl game, which was also the BCS championship game, had a crowd of 93,986. In the 2011 contest between TCU and Wisconsin, the listed attendance is 94,118. As of 2008, the Rose Bowl is the 11th largest football stadium, and is still the largest stadium that hosts post-season bowl games.
The press box was updated before the 1962 Rose Bowl with an elevator and two rows. The cost was $356,000. The Press Box was refurbished for UCLA’s move in 1982 and the 1984 Summer Olympics. In 2011 and 2012, the press box was undergoing renovation as part of the larger renovation originally budgeted at $152 million in 2010.
Court of Champions
The Court of Champions is at the stadium’s south end. Rose Bowl game records along with the names of the coaches and the MVP players, are shown on the plaques attached to the exterior wall. The Hall of Fame statue is also at the Court of Champions. The 2014 renovation allows more plaques to be placed on the wall and floor for future games. In 2019, Brandi Chastain’s statue was added, exposing her sports bra in the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup final.
Terry Donahue Pavilion
The seven-story Terry Donahue Pavilion is named for the former UCLA football head coach, who is the most successful coach in UCLA and Pac-12 history. It houses the press boxes, broadcast booths, premium seating, boxes and suites. The radio and TV booths were renamed The Keith Jackson Broadcast Center in December 2015. Jackson, the former ABC-TV sportscaster, coined the phrase The Granddaddy of Them All for the Rose Bowl game.
Rose Bowl Game
The Rose Bowl stadium is best known in the U.S. for its hosting of the Rose Bowl, a postseason college football game. The game is played after the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Day, or, if January 1 is a Sunday, on the following Monday January 2. The stadium’s name has given rise to the term bowl game for postseason football games, regardless of whether they are played in a bowl-shaped or Bowl-named stadium. The Rose Bowl Game is commonly referred to as The Granddaddy of Them All because of its stature as the oldest of all the bowl games.
BCS National Championship
Starting with the 1998 season, the Rose Bowl became part of the Bowl Championship Series. The 2002 and 2006 games also were the BCS Championship games, matching the and BCS teams in the nation. The 2010 BCS National Championship Game was played six days after the Rose Bowl game as a completely separate event from the Tournament of Roses, though it managed the event. The stadium hosted the 2014 BCS National Championship Game.
College Football Playoff semifinals
The Rose Bowl Game is one of the six primary bowls of the College Football Playoff, which replaced the BCS effective with the 2014 season. Every three years, the Rose Bowl will match two of the top four teams selected by the system’s selection committee to compete for a spot at the national championship game.
Soccer at the Rose Bowl
Though best known as an American football stadium, the Rose Bowl is also one of the most decorated soccer venues in the world. The stadium hosted the prestigious 1994 FIFA World Cup Final, the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final, and the 1984 Olympic Gold Medal Match, making it the only venue in the world to host all three of international soccer’s major championship matches.
The Rose Bowl has hosted the Pasadena Americafest Independence Day celebration annually since 1927. The annual fireworks show is considered one of the top fireworks shows in the nation. Another local event is the Rose Bowl Flea Market held the second Sunday of each month, on the stadium parking lots. Hosted by promoter R.G. Canning, it claims to be the largest Flea market on the West Coast.
The stadium was used for midget car racing in the 1940s. The stadium held its first country music festival in June 1981, named A Day in the Country The event was produced by Richard Flanzer of AtlanticPacific Music. The stadium hosted the 2007 Drum Corps International World Championships August 7 through August 11, 2007. The Rose Bowl was the final stadium to host the championship before DCI moved their corporate offices to Indianapolis with the championships being held at Lucas Oil Stadium until at least 2028.
After losing both its local teams in the Los Angeles market in 1995, the National Football League began looking to either start or relocate a franchise to the Los Angeles area. The closest the Rose Bowl came to being the home of an NFL team was in 1996 when the Seattle Seahawks announced a relocation to Los Angeles with the Rose Bowl as their planned stadium but the move was blocked by the NFL.
On November 19, 2012, Pasadena officials approved a proposal which could have allowed an NFL team to temporarily play in the Rose Bowl. The Rose Bowl, however, never ended up acting as a home field for an NFL team. When the Los Angeles Rams moved from St. Louis prior to the 2016 NFL season, the Rose Bowl was considered as a temporary home before the Rams ultimately settled on playing in USC’s Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the Rams’ home from 1946 to 1979.