Design and construction
Construction in 1921; note the original horseshoe shape
The game now known as the Rose Bowl Game was played at Tournament Park though January 1922, about three miles (5 km) southeast, adjacent to the campus of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). The Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association, the game's organizer, realized the temporary stands were inadequate for a crowd of more than 40,000, and sought to build a better, permanent stadium.
The stadium was designed by architect Myron Hunt in 1921. His design was influenced by the Yale Bowl in New Haven, Connecticut, which opened in 1914. The Arroyo Seco was selected as the location for the stadium. The Rose Bowl was under construction from Feb. 27, 1922 to October 1922. The nearby Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum also was under construction during this time and would be completed in May 1923, shortly after the Rose Bowl was completed. Originally built as a horseshoe, the stadium was expanded several times. The southern stands were completed in 1928, enclosing the stadium into a complete bowl.
The field's alignment is nearly north-south, offset slightly northwest, and the elevation at street level is approximately 830 feet (255 m) above sea level.
The stadium's name was alternatively "Tournament of Roses Stadium" or "Tournament of Roses Bowl", until being settled as "Rose Bowl" before the 1923 Rose Bowl game, in reference to the unusually named (at the time) Yale Bowl.
The stadium is extremely difficult to access due to the traffic caused by single-lane residential street access. It has no dedicated parking lot for visitors and parking issues have routinely caused visitors to spend two to three hours completing the last mile to the stadium on game days. In 2016, Rose Bowl contracted ParkJockey to streamline parking in and around the stadium.
There are also shuttles to help visitors get to the stadium and mobile lights powered by generators to provide visibility for people walking on the golf course at night.
Dedication, October 1922
The first game was a regular season contest in 1922, when defeated 12–0 on October 28. This was the only loss for USC and Cal finished the season undefeated. California declined the invitation to the 1923 Rose Bowl game and USC went instead. The stadium was dedicated officially on January 1, 1923, when USC defeated 14–3.
The stadium seating has been reconfigured several times since its construction in 1922. 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. All new grandstand and loge seats had been installed since 1971. New red seat backs had been added on 22,000 seats prior to the 1980 Rose Bowl. A Rose Bowl improvement was conducted because of UCLA's 1982 move and the 1984 Summer Olympics. This resulted in new seat backs for 50,000 seats.
For many years, the Rose Bowl had the largest football stadium capacity in the United States, eventually being surpassed by Michigan Stadium (107,601). The Rose Bowl's maximum stated seating capacity was 104,091 from 1972 to 1997. Some of the seats closest to the field were never used during this time for UCLA regular season games, and were covered by tarps. Official capacity was lowered following the 1998 Rose Bowl. Slightly different figures are given for the current capacity, for the lower level seats behind the team benches are not used for some events since the spectators can not see through the standing players or others on the field. UCLA reports the capacity at 91,136. The Tournament of Roses reports the capacity at 92,542. The 2006 Rose Bowl game, which was also the BCS championship game, had a crowd of 93,986. In the 2011 contest between TCU and Wisconsin, the listed attendance is 94,118. As of 2008, the Rose Bowl is the 11th , and is still the largest stadium that hosts post-season bowl games. For concerts held there, the Rose Bowl holds almost 60,000 people. The stadium's 2014 remodeling removed the lower "lettered row" seats on each side behind the players' benches and provide access in and out of the stadium for the lower sections of the Rose Bowl, restoring its original design.
UCLA-USC football game at the Rose Bowl; the 2008 edition marked a return to the tradition of both teams wearing home jerseys
The press box was updated before the 1962 Rose Bowl with an elevator and two rows. The cost was $356,000. The Press Box was refurbished for UCLA's move in 1982 and the 1984 Summer Olympics. In 2011 and 2012, the press box was undergoing renovation as part of the larger renovation originally budgeted at $152 million in 2010. Costs had increased to $170 million during construction. Work proceeded during the 2011 football season, and was expected to be completed before the UCLA Bruins' first home game in 2012. Some unforeseen problems had been encountered due to the stadium's age and some renovations done in the early 1990s. Most of the planned renovations were completed in 2013. Because of the increased construction cost, items deferred for the future are additional new restrooms, the historic field hedge, new entry gate structures, and additional new concession stands. The stadium has started "The Brick Campaign" to help pay for some of the cost of the renovations. The Brick Campaign, completed in 2014, features a large logo of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses and the donor bricks arranged by universities in front of the south main entrance to the stadium. A large 30 feet tall by 77 feet wide LED video display board was added to the north end of the stadium as a part of the renovation.
Court of Champions
The Court of Champions is at the stadium's south end. Rose Bowl game records along with the names of the coaches and the MVP players, are shown on the plaques attached to the exterior wall. The Hall of Fame statue is also at the Court of Champions. The 2014 renovation allows more plaques to be placed on the wall and floor for future games.
Terry Donahue Pavilion
The seven-story Terry Donahue Pavilion is named for the former UCLA football head coach, who is the most successful coach in UCLA and Pac-12 history. It houses the press boxes, broadcast booths, premium seating, boxes and suites. The radio and TV booths will be renamed "The Keith Jackson Broadcast Center" in December 2015. Jackson, the former ABC-TV sportscaster, coined the phrase "The Granddaddy of Them All" for the Rose Bowl game."
Sports Illustrated venue rankings
In 1999, Sports Illustrated listed the Rose Bowl at number 20 in the Top 20 Venues of the 20th Century. In 2007, Sports Illustrated named the Rose Bowl the number one venue in college sports.