By Charly SHELTON
As the year draws to a close and the new one arrives, the world’s attention turns to Colorado Boulevard and the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Day. And for football fans, the Rose Parade is just a precursor to the main event – the Rose Bowl game later that afternoon. When shown on TV, the big game appears to go smoothly, coming together flawlessly. But the reason it seems to run so seamlessly is because of the months of planning that go into the execution of the perfect game. This annual event is a special time for everyone involved, from the players to the bands to the spectators to the organizers of the event … organizers who include Kevin Ash, chief administrative officer of the Rose Bowl game.
“We kind of work with the stadium and the city [of Pasadena] as a team and meet in the middle,” said Ash. “What we do on our end, and this is our entire department as well as the Tournament [of Roses] as a whole, is basically organize all the game activities. We have all the team hotels, we have all the band hotels, we have the conference and VIP hotel, which is The Langham, and we have the media hotel.”
Every entity that’s coming to Pasadena, whether from a university environment or a conference environment, and game officials, needs housing. Ash also oversees the planning and scheduling that takes place a week before the game as teams and officials come into Southern California to prepare, practice and meet with members of the media. By the time game day rolls around, everything is running like a Swiss watch.
“We, this department, are the operational side of the game,” Ash explained. “So the teams will come in a week out – we call it Bowl Week – and what we do, for the most part, is take care of 300 student athletes, a myriad of coaches, university administrators and VIPs and alumni. Then from their conferences, like the PAC 12, we will bring down a whole group of VIPs and sponsors and university individuals, such as presidents or athletic directors or senior women’s administrators.”
He added that he has committees that handle some of the hospitality for the teams at night, for dining and comedy clubs and those types of events.
“There’s a lot of integration to what we do and with what volunteers do to assist on the game side,” said Ash. “It works quite well.”
In preparation for the Rose Bowl game, the teams are given access to a practice facility to get those last few days of practice in to iron out the kinks in their game. For this, Ash said, they go down to the StubHub Center. There the teams can run their plays and get their heads in the game for the days leading up to when they will take the field for real.
“It’s truly one of the best amateur practice facilities and work out facilities in the country,” said Ash. “Both teams can actually be in the facility at the same time and they can be secured and by themselves and never even see each other. It’s amazing.”
He explained that the practice facility used today replaces those used in the past, such as the Coliseum and Loyola Marymount.
“So there are options if somebody was to opt out of the StubHub Center,” Ash said, “but it’s beautiful. It’s probably one of the most beautiful practice facilities in college football.”
When it all comes together and works well, it plays out on television and at the stadium perfectly, without reflecting all the work that was done behind the scenes before the game.
“We’ve done this routine for a long time. I’ve done this routine since 1984,” said Ash. “It’s evolved, it’s changed a little bit with the BCS and now with the college football playoffs, but our template is still pretty much the same. And we tried to perfect that every year.”