There will be no Rose Bowl Game in Pasadena on New Year’s Day.

Under mounting pressure over the last several days, the Rose Bowl game will not take part in the 2021 College Football Playoff on Jan. 1, it was announced late Saturday night by the Tournament of Roses and College Football Playoff executive director, Bill Hancock.

The Rose Bowl game has been relocated to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX, on Jan. 1 due to the coronavirus pandemic and fans and families not given clearance to attend the game in Pasadena.

The Rose Bowl game, which was part of the College Football Playoff semifinal games on New Year’s Day along with the the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, faced heavy criticism across the country and from those that might participate in the game after announcing that there would be no fans or families members allowed at the game, even in a limited capacity.

The Associated Press reported on Saturday that the Tournament of Roses was denied a special exemption from the state of California to allow a few hundred fans to attend the game at the Rose Bowl, and then the decision came late Saturday to move it.

Hancock explained the reasons for the decision in a press release, and thanked the Tournament of Roses for its cooperation.

“The College Football Playoff Management Committee and Tournament of Roses have mutually agreed that, given the growing number of COVID-19 cases in Southern California, the CFP semifinal game previously scheduled to be played at the Rose Bowl Stadium will now be played at AT&T Stadium in Dallas,” Hancock wrote. “The game in Dallas will still be played in the mid-afternoon window on New Year’s Day. We are pleased that parents and loved ones will now be able to see their students play in the game.

“We are very grateful to Rose Bowl officials and the City of Pasadena. They have worked hard to listen to the concerns of the CFP, the teams that might have played there, and their state and government officials. The Tournament of Roses has acted in the best interest of the people who live in Southern California. And we’re grateful to Cotton Bowl and AT&T Stadium officials for their ability to make this late switch possible.

“Add this to the list of ways 2020 has demanded flexibility and last-minute accommodation from everyone in college football. Given all the complexities and difficulties involved, this is the best outcome for everyone concerned.”

California’s COVID-19 restrictions have been tightened in recent weeks as the state and Los Angeles County face an unprecedented rise in cases that has put a strain on hospitals and healthcare workers.

Los Angeles County is under a stay-home order that took effect earlier this month. Pasadena has its own public health department and can set its own rules, but has mostly followed the county’s lead during the coronavirus pandemic.

In its release explaining the decision the Pasadena Tournament of Roses stated: “It is extremely disappointed that this year’s game will not take place at the iconic Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, the decision to move the game is based on the growing number of COVID-19 cases in Southern California along with the inability to host player and coach guests at any game in California.”

“We know that the decision was not an easy one to make,” said David Eads, Tournament of Roses CEO and Executive Director. “While we remain confident that a game could have been played at the Rose Bowl Stadium, as evident in the other collegiate and professional games taking place in the region, the projection of COVID-19 cases in the region has continued on an upward trend.”

It is not clear whether the game will have the Rose Bowl name.

The Rose Bowl name is part of the Master License Agreement and is co-owned by the Pasadena Tournament of Roses and the City of Pasadena.

If the Rose Bowl name is not used, it would be the first time in more than 100 years no Rose Bowl game was played after a college football season. The first Rose Bowl was played Jan. 1, 1902.

The last time the Rose Bowl game was played outside Pasadena was in 1942. The game between Oregon State and Duke was played in Durham, North Carolina, because the West Coast was deemed unsafe after the attacks on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

Pressure to move the game from the Rose Bowl heated up on Friday after teams that could be in the semifinals, Clemson and Notre Dame, spoke out about not wanting to play if fans and especially families were not allowed.

Before No. 3. Clemson defeated No. 2 Notre Dame in Saturday’s ACC championship game to virtually guarantee it a spot in the semifinals, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney had his reservations about playing in Pasadena if fans were not allowed.

“It makes no sense to me to put a bunch of kids on a plane and fly them all the way to California to play in an empty stadium,” Swinney said. “That makes zero sense.”

Before losing to Clemson, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly went so far as saying that his team might boycott the game if families were not allowed to attend. Those sentiments certainly caught the attention of the College Football playoff committee.

Notre Dame still stands a reasonable chance of being selected to the national semifinals despite its loss to Clemson.

“I’m not sure if we’ll play in the playoffs if parents can’t be there,” Kelly said before Saturday’s loss. “We’re worshipping the ashes of tradition. That can be the only reason.

“You’re going to tell me we’re going to have a playoff and maybe one site can have families and the other can’t. Please, somebody has to wake up in that room and figure it out. Or you might as well just call this the professional league. Nothing speaks to this is just about having a playoff and we don’t care about the student-athletes (more than this).”

After Ohio State beat Northwestern in the Big Ten championship game Saturday to improve its chances to earn a spot in the CFP, Buckeyes coach Ryan Day was the latest to speak out.

“I also agree that families need to be there,” Day said.


By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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