Rose Bowl - UCLA Bruins
Photos by Andrei Ojeda, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57
Rose Bowl 1001 Rose Bowl Dr Pasadena, CA 91103
Year Opened: 1922 Capacity: 88,565
From the Hills of Westwood to The Arroyo Seco
One of the most storied stadiums in all of college football, the Rose Bowl is an iconic structure to any college football fan. The Rose Bowl has been the site of many classic college football moments as well as the host to five Super Bowls. The Rose Bowl itself opened its doors on October 8, 1922, originally in a horseshoe design. By 1928 the south end was closed in to complete the iconic bowl design that it is known for today. The one event the Grand Lady is known for hosting of course is the annual Rose Bowl game, played every year on January 1 traditionally between the Big Ten champion and the Pac 12 champion.
After previously calling the Los Angeles Coliseum home, the UCLA Bruins would move to The Rose Bowl in 1982. They would kick off their inaugural season at The Arroyo Seco with a Pac-10 crown and a triumphant Rose Bowl win over Michigan.
Food & Beverage 4
Even before you enter the venue, Lot H has a pregame Fan Zone set up south of the Rose Bowl’s signature entrance. Inside the Fan Zone, fans can choose from various food options, including Fat Sal’s. This popular sandwich spot serves up huge sandwiches from $10-$14. A Fat Texas BBQ comes in a 12-inch toasted garlic hero with BBQ pastrami brisket, chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, bacon, grilled onions, melted cheddar & mozzarella fries, mayo, and honey bbq.
The concourse is ringed by concessions, making it easy to navigate through the wide variety of food to whatever menu item catches your eye. Concessions are marked by signs displaying whatever is available at that particular stand. Beyond the usual burgers and dogs are chicken bowls and skewers, Mexican fare, BBQ chicken or pork sandwiches, stuffed crepes, chicken wings, and personal-sized pizza. The usual game-day snacks, peanuts, regular popcorn, kettle corn, and flavored popcorn are also available. Flavored shaved ices and chocolate chip cookies are some of the sweet treats available.
Coke product beverages and bottled water are available throughout all concession stand with the best value being the commemorative souvenir cup. At $9, the souvenir cup provides free refills not only for the game you’re attending but all UCLA home games that you attend for that season.
With the weather in Southern California being warm throughout much of the year, chances are whatever heavy clothing you bring will stay in your car. Evening games can get a bit chilly so bring at least a light sweater would be ideal.
If you choose to arrive early and partake in the pregame tailgate scene, you will be surrounded by fall foliage with the picturesque San Gabriel Mountains as your backdrop. As you make your way inside the stadium, if it is your first time visiting The Rose Bowl, you will want to enter through its grand entrance on the south end. There you will see its classic neon sign that has welcomed visitors from all over the world for almost a century.
Around the stadium, the stone fixtures and roses make you feel like you’ve gone back to an era in college football history while still enjoying all of the modern amenities of today’s stadiums. As you walk down the tunnels and glimpse the field, linger for a moment and soak in the view of one of the most classic venues in football.
The Rose Bowl is at the bottom of a valley at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains, whose peaks rise above the stadium and are visible from anywhere inside or outside. Beautiful sunsets over the mountains looking north are common sights here and are more than impressive. The neighborhood immediately around the stadium is unique in its relation to the Rose Bowl. You won’t see the iconic stadium as you’re winding through traffic. Instead, you’ll be in quaint neighborhoods with streets lined with palm trees and beautiful homes. Suddenly the expanse of the Rose Bowl parking lot opens up in front of you on the valley floor with the celebrated Rose Bowl sign visible on the front of the bowl. It almost seems a hidden gem that is a part of the beautiful surrounding landscape.
In terms of finding some good food options, Old Town Pasadena has plenty and is only a quick jump across the highway to the south. Buca di Beppo is one of the popular food options to try, although there will be no shortage around that Pasadena area. Slater’s 50/50 is a restaurant with a huge selection of local beers, but the specialty here is the bacon-themed burgers. Almost everything has bacon in it, and the 50% bacon burgers are a must.
When things are going well for the gridiron from Westwood, fan support can reach a fevered pitch as was proven in 2014 when the Sons of Westwood were in a battle for the Pac-12 South. However, with UCLA’s struggles the last few seasons, the decline in attendance has been very noticeable, to say the least.
Though fan support has improved steadily this season (2021), seat availability remains plentiful even after kickoff. To create a more intimate atmosphere, the upper reaches in the north end zone have been tarped off.
Even through good seasons, UCLA football rarely sells out. The distance to Pasadena from its Westwood campus, a good 25 miles away, is a huge factor keeping students away from the Grand Old Lady.
Getting into the area of the 134 or 210 is fairly easy (as easy as it can be in general Los Angeles traffic), but the fact that the stadium lies in the heart of a residential area with no major roads cutting through means going can be slow. Expect to be confronted with the option of parking far away and hiking to the stadium or waiting in endless traffic to reach the tailgate area. Arrive early, and choose wisely, because the narrow roads and direction of traffic make it impossible to change your mind. I’d strongly recommend the hike if you can’t arrive early enough to beat the masses out.
If you have no desire to drive to the bowl, parking in nearby Old Town Pasadena is also available, with prices ranging from $6 and up based on hours and length of stay. Parking in Old Town is a great alternative, especially if you plan on taking in some pre/post-game entertainment and dining options. Free game-day shuttle busses from the Parson’s parking lot on Fair Oaks Avenue are available for those of you parking in Old Town.
Once inside the stadium moving around is easy. The concourse is easily walkable and there are more than enough restrooms and concessions to make it easy to get to and from your seat quickly.
As classic and charming as The Rose Bowl is, once, inside the seating bowl, you will notice that this is no modern-day venue.
The rows are relatively narrow, so you won’t have much legroom between you and the row in front of you. The incline is so gradual that should you find yourself sitting behind someone tall, you will be viewing the back of their head.
Return on Investment 3
Even with the reconfigured seating capacity tickets are more than plentiful. Though prices can start from $35, tickets for most games can be purchased for below face value on various 3rd party sites. If you’re in the area and decide to catch a game on a whim, tickets are generally available even after kickoff.
Before entering The Rose Bowl, there are a couple of recently added statues outside the Rose Bowl’s grand entrance that you should visit. One is of Brandi Chastain’s celebration of the 1999 Women’s World Cup. The statue depicts Chastain’s famous celebration from Team USA’s historic win over China.
Another statue that is a must especially for first-time visitors is the statue of Jackie Robinson. Unveiled in 2017, this statue feature’s Jackie in gridiron form. Though Jackie will forever be associated with the number 42, it’s the number 55 that he wore when he played at nearby Pasadena Junior College, now Pasadena City College. This is one of four statues in the L.A. area paying tribute to the man who broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier, the others being across the street from Pasadena City Hall, Dodger Stadium, and Jackie Robinson Stadium. It was at UCLA where Jackie was a 4-sport star. Like MLB, the number 42 has been retired at UCLA and is never to be worn by any of its student-athletes ever again.
By now you know that The Rose Bowl is home to more than just UCLA football. As you stroll the concourses you will see murals of the venue’s many memorable moments. At the Court of Champions under the famous Rose Bowl sign you will see a large plaque of old-time football players with the QB handing the ball off to the running back. This piece of art is simply known as The Hand Off.
Along with The Hand Off, you will also see plaques depicting the score of each Rose Bowl game along with the names of Rose Bowl Hall of Famers.
All this along with the famous Rose Bowl sign is itself rich in history and a must-stop before or after an event, especially for a great photo opportunity.
Because UCLA’s campus is located 25 miles from the Arroyo Seco, Bruins football games at The Rose Bowl will never have a true on-campus college game-day feel. Though the Bruins call The Rose Bowl their home for 6-7 Saturdays each Fall, it’s been 22 years since the Sons of Westwood have played a New Year’s Day game at The Arroyo Seco.
The Rose Bowl, with all its history and grandeur, maintains a natural charm, lined with roses and other natural beauty. The Rose Bowl does not have some of the most up-to-date technological advances and amenities like many venues today.
Despite its age, the Rose Bowl continues to be one of the legendary sports venues in any sport. Steeped with so much history, for that reason alone, you should plan a visit.