By Mary O’KEEFE
Since 1902, when the first Tournament of Roses football game was held at Tournament Park on Jan. 1, college football teams have squared off at the Rose Bowl. With such a long history it’s not surprising that the Rose Bowl game has achieved many milestones.
“This collegiate classic has been the occasion of many firsts. The Rose Bowl game was the occasion of the first local radio broadcast of an east-west bowl game in 1926, the first transcontinental radio broadcast of a sporting event in 1927, the first local telecast of a college football game in 1948, the first national telecast of a college football game in 1952 and the first coast-to-coast color telecast of a collegiate football game in 1962,” according to the Tournament of Roses website.
Today, Jan. 1, millions will be watching Florida State vs. Oregon State at the 101st Rose Bowl college football playoff semifinal game. The fans, the television cameras, not to mention social media, all have eyes on Pasadena’s Rose Bowl, so no pressure … right?
“We are pretty busy,” said George Cunningham, Rose Bowl stadium chief operating officer.
The stadium is also the home field for UCLA. Their games end in November and that is when preparation begins for the Rose Bowl game.
“Our meetings start [with the Tournament of Roses] in October/ November,” Cunningham said.
Workers begin with a massive clean down and complete maintenance check of the entire stadium.
“And we replace the entire field with brand new sod,” he added.
The field was replaced the Friday after Thanksgiving, and this year the rains helped jumpstart the grass growing.
To those seated in the stadium on game day, everything looks like it effortlessly came together; however, each year those in charge know that’s not the case. Each year they face new challenges and changes, which have included social media.
“Social media helps us in how we communicate with fans,” said Cunningham. “In the past we would get a complaint about [something in the stadium] but it would be too late [to respond]. Now you get an instant feed.”
Cunningham has members of his staff monitoring social media for any issues people may have while at the stadium.
Being the 101st game is an especially exciting milestone for the Rose Bowl. Cunningham said he is excited about this year’s Rose Bowl because it moves past the century mark.
“It is the first playoff system of this era and we are part of it,” he said.
Cunningham does have a suggestion for those driving to the stadium on game day.
“We highly recommend people use public transportation,” he said. “If you are out of town you can take the [Metro] Gold Line that drops you at Union Station, get on at Union Station and come into Pasadena [where they will drop you off] a couple blocks away and [riders can get] a free shuttle to [the Rose Bowl].”
Traffic, parking and all information on the Rose Bowl game can be found at
www.rosebowlstadium.com and www.tournamentofroses.com.