Athena and I are currently on a Super Bowl heritage road trip from San Diego to San Francisco as we discover the history and culture of the Super Bowl in California. Rose Bowl Stadium is the most historic stadium in the United States. It’s a National Historic Landmark in the beautiful city of Pasadena, California. There have been five Super Bowls, two Summer Olympic Games, the 1994 FIFA World Cup Final, the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final, over 30 years of UCLA Bruins Football, BCS National Champions, 15 Heisman Trophy winners, and 99 Rose Bowl Games that have been played at Rose Bowl. I couldn’t do a Super Bowl heritage road trip without a stop at Rose Bowl Stadium. Today, I was lucky enough to have a private tour. Athena and I walked around the stadium while learning about its history, walking the halls of many of the greatest football players, and having our own game on the field. We could feel the energy that filled the stadium even though we were the only ones there. It has a life of its own.
As we walked through the concourse, I marveled at the beautiful mountains that are the backdrop to the stadium. I envisioned the concourse filled to capacity with lines for restrooms and concession stands crossing over one another. With a capacity for 88,500 people, the stadium must come alive during games, especially during the Rose Bowl game itself.
Many of the stands don’t have individual seating. They are benches, which force people to get close and cheer in unison. I think I like the idea of sitting close to my comrades and sharing the ups and downs on such a personal level. I’d never been to a Rose Bowl game but it’s now on my list.
Our guide told us about the care that goes into the grass. As she explained the extensive process, I started to understand the pride that goes into maintaining such an honored stadium. It’s not just a field; it’s a home to so many.
I rubbed my feet in the grass thinking about how smooth it is as we walked along the field. One dip or imperfection could cause a player to roll his ankle or get injured. That’s not even thinking about the defensive players trying to take them down.
Athena and I picked up a foam football from a dollar store before heading to the stadium. How many thousands of people dream about playing on that field? We wanted our shot. I ran to the 10 yard line and she ran up the field. I tossed her the ball and chased her around as she tried to get into the end zone. It was a surreal moment; we were playing around on one of the greatest fields in history.
Again, we practiced our touchdown dance but for the first time in my life I might be too embarrassed to share the video. I’ll think about it.
As for Super Bowl history, it’s surprising that it has any considering it has never been home to any NFL team. The Super Bowl has been held at the Rose Bowl Stadium five times. It is only one of two stadiums in the country to host without being home to an NFL team.
Rose Bowl Stadium hosted the Super Bowl on the following:
- Super Bowl XI – January 9th, 1977 between the Raiders and the Vikings
- Super Bowl XIV – January 20th, 1980 between the Steelers and the Rams
- Super Bowl XVII – January 10th, 1983 between the Redskins and the Dolphins
- Super Bowl XXI – January 25th, 1987 between the Giants and the Broncos
- Super Bowl XXVII – January 31th, 1993 between the Cowboys and the Bills
I was told that the conditions were ideal for every game; it was sunny and between 61 and 74 degrees on all five winter days. It’s California amazing? I’m so proud to call this state my home.
Today, it hit me how grateful I am to have these experiences and share them with Athena. Playing around on the field and hearing about its history from a tour guide gave me so much more than I could have gained from a book and even more than watching a game on tv. It deepened my passion for the game and left me excited for more. Now, when I watch the players step onto the field, I will remember what that grass felt like under my feet and feel like I’m there with them. Bring on Super Bowl City!