The 2021 College Football Playoff (CFP) Semifinal scheduled to take place at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena has been relocated to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Rising case rates of coronavirus and the subsequent refusal by local authorities to allow any fans in the stands, including friends or family of game participants.
“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.”
“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,” said Bill Hancock, Executive Director of the College Football Playoff.
Game officials made the decision to relocate following news that California would not make any exception to its COVID restrictions to allow player guests at the game. That means playing in California would leave even family of players and coaches at Notre Dame and Alabama watching from home rather than cheering in the stands at the Rose Bowl, which can normally accommodate close to 100,000 fans at full capacity. In a release announcing the relocation, Tournament of Roses officials stressed they had appealed to state authorities in both November and again in December for a special exception to the COVID restrictions to allow a small number of in-person attendance, but the state refused to budge.
The last time the Rose Bowl game was played outside of California was in January 1942. That game between Duke and Oregon State was played in North Carolina due to worries of game safety on the California coast following the Pearl Harbor attack in Hawaii the previous month. It is unclear at this point if the game in Dallas will still be referred to as the Rose Bowl despite the relocation.
Plans for allowing fans in the stands at AT&T have not yet been announced for the CFP semifinal. Generally, Texas has been more permissive of allowing fans to attend live events amid the pandemic. The Cotton Bowl Classic game, which will feature Florida taking on Oklahoma on December 30 at AT&T Stadium, is allowing a limited number of fans, as have the Dallas Cowboys at their home games.
“We are heartbroken for our friends at the Tournament of Roses,” said Rick Baker, President/CEO, Cotton Bowl Athletic Association. “This year has been tough on most of our sacred traditions and this is just one more example. When friends reach out and ask for your help, you step up. We look forward to working with the Tournament of Roses staff and the College Football Playoff to host a game that will be worthy of the great tradition of ‘The Granddaddy of Them All.'”