After spending most of college working my way up through the ranks of the Daily Bruin Sports section, I finally got my first chance to travel for the paper Saturday.
I drove all the way to Tucson but all the trip did was reaffirm a suspicion I already had.
The Rose Bowl is awful.
It’s homecoming weekend, but I kind of wish we were gearing up for another away game. Here are five reasons why.
1. The location is terrible.
This one’s the most obvious one, and probably the one that’s the least likely to change. Having a campus in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the country comes at a price.
The only way I could imagine UCLA students ever getting a taste of the gameday experiences other college students enjoy would be to build a stadium where the Heroes Golf Course is now, which I’m guessing will never happen. Parking nightmare, right?
But the athletics department should start to at least entertain ideas like that one, no matter how crazy and unrealistic they may sound.
UCLA is the only Pac-12 school that forces its students to travel to a different city to see their team play, and the Bruins are one of just four teams in the country who take the field more than 15 miles away from their campus.
Students are piling on close to three hours roundtrip just to get to the game. For a student body that takes time management seriously, that’s a problem.
At the University of Arizona campus, I walked past a set of residence halls on the way back to my car. Next time I’m on the I-10 east heading to Pasadena, I might just keep driving until I get back to Arizona.
2. The stadium is too old.
The Rose Bowl was built in 1922. You say storied, I say outdated.
Arizona Stadium had a couple of things I really enjoyed: a sound system I could actually hear and high-definition screens big enough to tell what was going on.
Since UCLA leaving the Rose Bowl is pretty unlikely, it would be nice to see some improvements to the tired stadium. Dodger Stadium, which opened in 1962, was transformed into a modern ballpark after Guggenheim Baseball Management bought the team.
The problem here: The city of Pasadena owns the Rose Bowl. It has a lot less to gain from an expensive remodel than the Dodgers’ new ownership had to gain from its.
The old Yankee Stadium was also built in 1922. There’s a reason we have a new Yankee Stadium.
3. The stadium is too big.
Having a stadium that can fit over 90,000 people would be awesome if that many people actually showed up.
The Rose Bowl has yet to get a crowd bigger than 65,000 this season. Last season, the best mark was 71,137 against USC.
When I got my first look at Arizona Stadium – which seats about 55,000 – I thought it looked tiny, but as the game went on I started to appreciate the more intimate atmosphere.
4. The student section isn’t on the 50-yard line.
Sure, UCLA found a way to get students in the shade, but they still only have a good view for half the game.
Understandably, there are fans who can afford to pay a lot more money for their tickets than students can fork over for their Den Sports Passes. UCLA has such a big alumni base in the LA area, and I don’t blame the department too much for selling those seats to the people who can afford them.
But it’s certainly more exciting.
Any time the Wildcats players wanted to celebrate from their sideline, all they had to was turn around to see all of their fellow students. Arizona’s student section looked like a bell curve, centered at the 50.
5. Student turnout is lackluster.
Driving around the University of Arizona campus, I saw so many students and they all had such a sense of excitement and energy about them. I began to wonder a little bit: Don’t these people have to study?
Los Angeles fans already don’t have a great reputation when it comes to caring about their sports teams, and UCLA was recently voted the nation’s top public university.
The LA state of mind and academic rigor aren’t the best combination when it comes to developing an impassioned fanbase.
I love my school, I always will. But the fact that we have to go to the Rose Bowl is a huge barrier to the kind of college football experience just about every other university gets to enjoy.
For now, I guess I’ll just keep traveling to get a sense of what it’s like.