Rose Bowl Stadium, Aquatics Center Begin Journey Towards 2028 Olympics

Published : Monday, September 18, 2017 | 5:26 AM

Now that the International Olympic Committee has finally awarded the hosting of the 2028 Summer Olympics to Los Angeles, officials at two potential Pasadena competition sites are launching efforts to bring Olympic gold to the Arroyo Seco.

“We look forward to meeting with the LA local Olympic folks and trying to secure the Rose Bowl as a site,” Darryl Dunn, CEO/General Manager of the Rose Bowl Operating Company (RBOC), said. “We’re very proud of the Rose Bowl’s history and we’re all working diligently to provide a future as great as our past. Certainly, hosting the Olympics is a giant step towards a bright future.”

Rose Bowl Aquatics Center Director of Operations Tim Unger expressed the same commitment.

“I would say on the record that we are willing to be of help in whatever way is asked of us whether that be as a training site for the teams or however we can help,” he said. Unger, however, said his team has not yet been contacted about the possible use of the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center in the Games.

When Los Angeles submitted its bid for hosting the Olympics in 2024, the Rose Bowl in Pasadena already had an agreement in place to be the venue for men’s and women’s soccer.

The Pasadena stadium, often referred to as “America’s Stadium,” was one of at least 10 venues in Los Angeles County that were listed as sites for different games in the Olympics.

With the vote in Lima, Peru, the IOC ended an unusual bid competition that resulted in two winners being simultaneously awarded – Paris for the 2024 Games, and Los Angeles in the 2028 games.

“Like anything worth fighting for, this was a long journey,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a report from the Los Angeles Times. “Little by little, we got a victory.”

The Rose Bowl was the venue for cycling events during the 1932 Olympics, when it had to be converted into a temporary velodrome with the help of a French engineer under the auspices of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI).

Then the Rose Bowl became a part of the 1984 Olympic Games, when it hosted the soccer matches. During the finals, a crowd of 101,799 watched France defeat Brazil, 2-0, for the gold medal.

Paul Little, President of the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, and his wife were among those who watched that match.

“My first experience with the Rose Bowl was going to the 1984 finals between Brazil and Italy. That was the one big event we could afford in ’84,” Little said.

Ten years later, on July 17, 1994, Brazil beat Italy at the Rose Bowl for their fourth World Cup title.

“The Rose Bowl is a great venue for soccer,” Little said. “It’s perfectly equipped to deal with the security issues that are going to be necessary and required. And it’s a fun experience; it’s a tradition soccer players like to play in the Rose Bowl, and Pasadena has an emotional meaning for them. It’s the only place that has hosted the World Cup finals, the Olympic finals and the women’s World Cup finals.”

During discussions at the Pasadena City Council last year, when Los Angeles was eyeing to be the host of the 2024 Games, it was agreed that a Venue City Agreement would have to be negotiated if Los Angeles and the Rose Bowl were chosen.

The City Council at that time discussed preliminary commitments and minimum guarantees that Pasadena must offer, including providing the normal level and range of public safety and welfare services, and being prepared to work with the International Olympic Committee, the Los Angeles Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (OCOG), and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to ensure a safe celebration of the Games.

With LA now preparing for 2028 instead of 2024, Pasadena would need to revise some of the schedules it earlier forwarded and make sure it defines an Exclusive Use period in its calendar of events, in accordance with the final 2028 Olympics schedule.

In the 1984 Olympics, the Rose Bowl hosted 20 displacement events, of which about 11 were Olympic soccer matches. In last year’s City Council discussions, RBOC staff members said they were not anticipating as many displacement events as in the recent past, since renovations at the USC Coliseum and construction of a new NFL stadium in Inglewood would have been completed before 2028.

The City Council also discussed a cultural and arts component to the Olympic bid. Pasadena was invited to collaborate with the cities of Los Angeles and Santa Monica to prepare for presenting a component that would showcase the Los Angeles region and include the cultural contributions of Pasadena and Santa Monica.