It’s not the oldest stadium in the nation. That would be Franklin Field at the University of Pennsylvania. But it could be the most famous. The Rose Bowl was built in 1922 and is recognized as a U.S. National Historic Landmark and a California Historic Civil Engineering landmark. The stadium famous for its bowl game, has hosted Super Bowls, Olympic events, World Cup soccer matches, sold-out concerts and even a flea market.

Planting the seeds

The first Tournament of Roses Parade was in 1890 and the first football game was held in 1902 (between the University of Michigan and Stanford University) in Tournament Park, but chariot races and other events were substituted, until football became an annual contest in 1916. The stands in Tournament Park were temporary and the city of Pasadena decided it should have a permanent stadium.

The stadium was designed by architect Myron Hunt. Hunt’s influence as an architect can be found all around Southern California, including the summer ranch home for cereal magnate Will Keith Kellogg at the present-day campus of Cal Poly Pomona. In 1913, Hunt designed a new wing for the Mission Inn in Riverside. He also designed a number of California libraries, including those in Redlands, Palos Verdes Estates, Santa Barbara and the Pasadena Central Library.

The Rose Bowl looked like a horseshoe shape in 1923 before the full bowl was completed in 1928. The first game played at the Rose Bowl was on Oct. 28, 1922, when Cal beat USC. The Rose Bowl originally had a seating capacity of 57,000 in a horseshoe configuration. On Jan. 1, 1923, the first Rose Bowl Game was played with USC defeating Penn State.

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. A new grandstand and loge seats have been installed since 1971. New red seat backs were added on 22,000 seats prior to the 1980 Rose Bowl. An improvement project was conducted because of UCLA’s 1982 move into the stadium and because of the 1984 Summer Olympics. This resulted in new seatbacks for 50,000 seats. For many years, the Rose Bowl, which currently seats more than 90,000 for games. had the largest football stadium capacity in the U.S. before eventually being surpassed by Michigan Stadium (107,601).

Over the years

Because of restrictions on crowds on the West Coast during World War II, the 1942 Rose Bowl was relocated to Durham, North Carolina.

The 1952 Rose Bowl game was the first nationally televised bowl game.

The 1962 Rose Bowl was the first college football game broadcast on TV in color.

In 2021, the game scheduled to be played at the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1 was moved to Texas’ Arlington Stadium due to state restrictions because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Most success

The Rose Bowl has been the home field for UCLA since 1982, However, USC has the most Rose Bowl Game appearances with 34 and the most Rose Bowl victories with 25. UCLA has appeared 12 times and won five times.

Super Bowls and stars

The stadium has hosted the Super Bowl five times: Super Bowl XI in 1977, Super Bowl XIV in 1980, Super Bowl XVII in 1983, Super Bowl XXI in 1987 and Super Bowl XXVII in 1993. The 1993 Super Bowl halftime show featured Michael Jackson.

The last two years, the stadium has been quiet, but in 2019 the Rolling Stones and BTS performed there. The stadium has been a venue for the biggest bands in the world, but the most concerts it has hosted since 1981 in a single year is five, in 2017. That year the venue had Coldplay, Green Day, Metallica and two record-setting shows for attendance by U2.

Olympics

The Rose Bowl has hosted two Summer Olympics gold medal matches: cycling in 1932 and soccer in 1984. It also will be a venue for the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Soccer

The stadium hosted the 1994 FIFA World Cup final, the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup final and the 1984 Olympic gold medal match. It is the only venue in the world to host all three of international soccer’s major championship matches.

Other notable events

The stadium hosted the Junior Rose Bowl from 1946 to 1971 and in 1976 and 1977. It was considered a Junior College football national championship.

Army-Navy game

The Rose Bow is the only site west of the Mississippi River to host an Army-Navy game in 1983. The city of Pasadena paid for the traveling expenses of all the students and supporters of both the U.S. Naval Academy and U.S. Military Academy.

Americafest

Every July Fourth, the Rose Bowl hosts Americafest, an Independence Day celebration with a large fireworks display.

Rose Bowl flea market

The flea market is held on the second Sunday of the month. Check visitpasadena.com for more information.

Sources: Rosebowlstadium.com, The Huntington Library, The Associated Press, roadtocfb.com, NCAA

California

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