Officials considering moving Rose Bowl game

BY Sam Farmer and J. Brady McCollough
Los Angeles Times/TNS

LOS ANGELES - For the first time since World War II forced the Rose Bowl eastward to Durham, North Carolina, in 1942, serious consideration is being given to the game not being played at its rightful home in Pasadena.

The Rose Bowl this year is one of the College Football Playoff’s national semifinals, still scheduled for its traditional New Year’s Day afternoon kickoff time. But Los Angeles County pandemic regulations, as currently written, would not allow for the game to be played with family members in attendance, a key detail that has put the game in question with the CFP management committee.

As of now, the matchup probably would emerge from a pool of Alabama, Notre Dame, Clemson and Ohio State. None of the schools is located west of the Mississippi River and would be asked to travel across the country during the worst wave of the pandemic to play in front of no fans.

The Tournament of Roses has been in discussions with Los Angeles County, according to an individual familiar with the negotiations but not authorized to speak on them publicly. The argument for allowing families to attend is that the Rose Bowl has 95,000 seats with more than 50 suites, which should allow for proper social distancing. Thus far, the county does not seem to be budging.

The possibility of the Rose Bowl not being played this year was first reported by Yahoo Sports last weekend.

The CFP selection committee is scheduled to announce the playoff bracket on Sunday. The CFP is expected to meet later this week with the Rose Bowl scenario on the table.

Because this is a CFP year and not a normal Rose Bowl year with the champions of the Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences slotted to match up, the CFP has the final say.

If the game were to be moved, it would not be called the Rose Bowl, as that branding now stays in Pasadena. In that case, 2021 would be the first year without a Rose Bowl since 1915. Over the last century, the game became known as the “Granddaddy of them all” as the country’s oldest and most treasured bowl game.

No matter what the CFP decides, the Rose Bowl is going to lose tens of millions of dollars by not having fans. Still in question is whether the Tournament of Roses would be compensated from the TV revenue if the game is played elsewhere not by the Rose Bowl’s choosing.

Alternative sites that have been under consideration include the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, for old time’s sake.

The 1942 game moved to Durham because of fears - just weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor - of an another attack on the West Coast. The federal government prohibited large gatherings out west for the rest of the war.

Oregon State beat Duke 20-16 in front of 56,000 fans.

AT&T Stadium has hosted nearly 170,000 fans for six Cowboys home games this season - including 30,000 on Thanksgiving Day.

The Rose Bowl was last played outside of Pasadena in 1942 because of World War II.