For only the second time since 1902, the traditional Rose Bowl football contest will not be played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The only exception was in 1942 after the attacks on Pearl Harbor. The game was played in Durham, North Carolina because the West Coast was deemed unsafe. The game that year was between Oregon State and Duke.
Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic and the strict statewide shutdown orders from the Governor of California, the College Football Playoff (CFP) game will not be played in Pasadena. It will be played in Arlington, Texas at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys. Welcome to Texas, y’all. The State of California may not want your money but Texas will be happy to take it.
The decision reached Saturday by the Tournament of Roses and the CFP management committee was all about playing the game in a venue that will allow family and friends into the stadium to watch the game. Two appeals were made to state health officials to allow 400-500 spectators into the 95,000-seat stadium. The stadium includes more than 50 suites. Nope. The state bureaucrats were unwilling to bend. The response to the last appeal came from the state on Thursday night. A two-page letter denied the appeal.
The CFP Semifinal at the Rose Bowl Stadium will be relocated to AT&T Stadium in Dallas on January 1, 2021.
— CFP Semifinal presented by Capital One (@rosebowlgame) December 20, 2020
The top priority is the needs of the college players. CFP executive director Bill Hancock thanked Rose Bowl officials and the City of Pasadena for listening to their concerns. The game will be played on January 1, 2021. The teams are No. 1 Alabama (11-0) against No. 4 Notre Dame (10-1). The winner of that game will play the winner of the Sugar Bowl on January 11 for the national title. The acting state health officer says it’s about science, you know.
“We understand the honor and tradition that takes place in Pasadena in participating in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day,” wrote Erica Pan, acting state health officer at the California Department of Health. “However, there are no boundaries to this virus.”
Pan called it a “dynamic virus and situation,” and wrote, “This is why we have chosen a slow and stringent science-based approach to determining when activities should open.”
The deliberation process took about 13 1/2 hours. Coaches and school officials spoke up for their teams saying the players wanted their family and loved ones sitting in the stadium. Notre Dame even suggested it would boycott the game if accommodations couldn’t be made. Everyone is trying to keep the conversation amiable now.
“We know that the decision was not an easy one to make,” said David Eads, Tournament of Roses CEO and Executive Director. “While we remain confident that a game could have been played at the Rose Bowl Stadium, as evident in the other collegiate and professional games taking place in the region, the projection of COVID-19 cases in the region has continued on an upward trend.”
The Sugar Bowl will be played in New Orleans, as is tradition, after the Rose Bowl game on January 1. Current plans are to allow 3,000 fans at the Superdome. The championship game is scheduled for Jan. 11 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. A decision hasn’t been formally made as to if the game will keep the Rose Bowl name. There’s a licensing agreement and it is co-owned by the Pasadena Tournament of Roses and the City of Pasadena. I imagine the game will have to be re-named. The coronavirus already claimed the Tournament of Roses parade as a victim. It is being ” reimagined ” as a two-hour entertainment special.
AT&T Stadium has hosted nearly 170,000 fans for six Cowboys home games this season. There were 30,000 fans on Thanksgiving Day. The Cotton Bowl Classic will be played at the stadium on Dec. 30, so it’s a tight turnaround for the Rose Bowl game.