First sizzling triple-digit temperatures boiled down the opening day crowd at last weekend’s UCLA season kickoff against Bowling Green to a paltry 27,143 for the lowest non-pandemic-affected attendance since the Bruins began their Rose Bowl run in 1982.
Now this weekend’s game against Alabama State is expected to see rain and a thunderstorm is likely.
Officials did not provide the number of tickets sold to date for the game and wouldn’t speculate on the weather’s impact on attendance. In an email to his constituents, Councilmember Steve Madison projected attendance at just “20,000+.”
Saturday’s game will be the first time the Bruins play an HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities).
Alabama State Hornets coach, former Houston Oiler Eddie Robinson Jr., said he always dreamed of playing at the Rose Bowl when he was a defensive back at Alabama State.
Robinson — a Louisana native and not related to Pasadena’s hometown hero Jackie Robinson — said he’s excited to show off his Hornets at one of college football’s most famous venues and compete against a Power 5 school.
“UCLA has a great tradition,” Robinson said during a virtual Southwest Athletic Conference media conference on HBCU Sports. “Every kid has dreamed about playing in the Rose Bowl at one time. I know I did. It’s going to be a great experience for us, the band and the fans. We do have a lot of alumni out there in California. We’re looking at it optimistically to go out there and compete.”
Appropriately, UCLA Black Alumni Association plans a pre-game double tailgate party which will include a large delegation of ASU alumni and friends. More than 300 are expected to attend, according to Association President Michelle Johnson.
UCLA Athletic Director Martin Jarmond will speak at the tailgate, Johnson said.
“This new tradition of playing an HBCU has had such a positive impact on the Black Community…bringing together HBCU alumni from throughout the city to meet and greet in support of the visiting team,” Johnson told Pasadena Now. “This is a historic first for UCLA to play an HBCU and we look forward to making this game and associated tailgate an annual tradition!”
Saturday will also see the first Chancellor’s Bruin Game Day Party of this season. The party starts at 11 a.m., three hours before the game.
A decades-old tradition at UCLA, seven of these Chancellor’s Bruin Game Day parties will be held at the Rose Bowl starting with Saturday’s event. The party event brings UCLA alumni and friends together and helps them feel connected to each other and to the institution.
At the stadium Saturday, parking lots open at 8 a.m. At 9:45 a.m. the Fan Zone opens in Area H. Stadium Gates open at noon.
Kickoff is at 2:00 p.m. The game will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Network.