In separate press releases, the city of Pasadena and the Tournament of Roses Association announced that the College Football Playoff (CFP) will be able to use the Rose Bowl Game moniker and trademarks when the CFP’s semi-final playoff game between No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Notre Davis is played in Texas on New Year’s Day.
“The Master Lease Agreement (MLA) outlines that the Rose Bowl Game must be held in the Rose Bowl stadium and the only exception is if there is a force majeure event,” said CEO David Eads. “Clearly this qualifies.”
A force majeure clause can be enacted due to unforeseeable circumstances that prevent someone from fulfilling a contract. The CFP declared the stipulation and moved the semifinal game that was due to be held in Pasadena’s iconic stadium to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas earlier this month. The decision came after the current coronavirus surge left ICU beds full and forced state officials to bar fans from attending the game.
According to a statement issued by the Tournament of Roses, the city and the Tournament agreed to a one-year amendment of the MLA allowing the Rose Bowl Game name to be used in the Texas game.
The MLA governs the city and the tournament’s responsibilities regarding the game, including ownership of the service marks and the brand name, which the Tournament says it has exclusive rights to.
Officials for the Tournament emphasized that various aspects of the telecast, as well as the pre-game publicity, would emphasize the game’s historical and continuing identity with Pasadena. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.
In addition, in an effort to help offset expenses and lost revenues resulting from the game not being played in Pasadena, the Tournament of Roses will contribute $2 million to the city.
“Unprecedented is truly an understatement,” said Public Information Officer Lisa Derderian in a prepared statement. “That is why the City of Pasadena has agreed to allow the Tournament of Roses to relocate the official Rose Bowl Game in 2021. The Rose Bowl Game will not relocate again from Pasadena unless it is forced to due to a national emergency. The values, the prestige and the meaning of the Rose Bowl Game remain uniquely Pasadena’s and it would be a disservice to the thousands of volunteers and residents if future games were to be considered for relocation. We look forward to welcoming the Rose Bowl Game and Tournament of Roses parade back to Pasadena on January 1, 2022.”
After the announcement to move the game was made it was unknown if the Rose Bowl brand would still be a part of the game.
Moving the game restores a revenue stream to the Tournament of Roses which makes money from ticket sales and merchandise during semifinal playoff Rose Bowl Games. The Tournament renegotiated with the CFP to get a piece of the ESPN broadcasting revenue.
Officials with the Tournament have been in Texas since last week to organize Friday’s game, according to the organization.
City officials reiterated the game’s connection to Pasadena when reached by phone on Wednesday.
“The Rose Bowl Game, absent a world pandemic or World War that threatens the life of millions of people, should never be decoupled from Pasadena,” said Mayor Victor Gordo.
Gordo’s comments marked the first local statement by a city official since the CFP moved the game from Pasadena to Texas, to the chagrin of local residents.
The game was moved once before in 1942 after military officials feared an attack on the West Coast following the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, plunging the nation into World War II.
“While the Tournament of Roses has the right to play the Rose Bowl Game in an alternate venue this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we felt it was important to do so in consultation with the city of Pasadena,” Eads said.
Local residents opposed the idea of the name being used after the game was moved.
The game was moved after Eads twice failed to convince state officials to allow fans inside the stadium to view the game.
At that time, it was reported that the Rose Bowl Game brand could not be used without the approval of the City Council. But not long after the decision was made media outlets began reporting the game would be called the Rose Bowl Game at Arlington Stadium, before the council voted.
Officials with the CFP did not respond to an email from Pasadena Now seeking comment last week.
Eads emphasized that the Tournament of Roses had done everything it could to keep the game in Pasadena.
“We had held firm to keep the game in Pasadena, even if it had to be played without fans,” he said. “As recently as two weeks ago, we believed the game would be played in the Rose Bowl Stadium. But as COVID cases increased, ICUs filled, and we couldn’t be assured that even player injuries could be adequately treated if necessary, we had to accept the CFP’s decision to temporarily relocate the game.”
The City Council and Eads met in closed session last week to discuss the matter.
City officials would not comment on that meeting, although the Rose Bowl Game’s logo had remained on the CFP website after the game was canceled.
When contacted by Pasadena Now, City Manager Steve Mermell would not reveal if any action had been taken at that meeting.
The state’s Ralph M. Brown Act mandates the City Council to report any action taken in closed session. Reports on some settlements and contract agreements can be delayed until all sides have signed off on the agreement.
“This game has been nourished and curated for 100 years. This game belongs to the people of Pasadena,” Gordo said. “Next year is the 100th anniversary of the game and I welcome back people throughout the country to a real Rose Bowl at the Rose Bowl Stadium where it should always be played.
“No one in College Football or anywhere else should have the idea that the people of Pasadena or I as mayor of Pasadena would support moving the game outside of Pasadena.”