Friday’s Rose Bowl meeting between No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Notre Dame will be unlike any in the bowl’s history.
That’s because it won’t take place in the historic Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, Calif. The game was moved from its traditional site to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas (normally the site of the Cotton Bowl), in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rising cases forced the state of California to ban attendance at sporting events, and policy-makers wouldn’t make an exception for “The Granddaddy of Them All.”
Here’s what you need to know about the game, why it was moved and how much ticket prices are for the unique College Football Playoff semifinal.
Why did the Rose Bowl move to Texas?
Policy-makers wouldn’t make an exception for fans to attend the Rose Bowl, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort by the event’s organizers. They reportedly asked California twice to allow a few hundred family members to attend the game, exempting the game from the state’s stringent fan attendance policies.
They were rebuffed both times, on Dec. 3 and Dec. 19. After the Rose Bowl committee was denied a second time, the game was moved to AT&T Stadium.
“We know that the decision was not an easy one to make,” David Eads, Tournament of Roses CEO and executive director, said in a statement. “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.
Said Bill Hancock, executive director of the Playoff: “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.”
The inability of players and coaches’ families to attend the game was a topic of heated discussion among several FBS coaches who didn’t see the point of traveling to a game no one could watch.
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly in particular scoffed at the idea of playing in an empty Rose Bowl Stadium; prior to the game’s relocation to Arlington on Dec. 19, he suggested the Fighting Irish might not play in the Playoff if they were forced to play in Pasadena. (The other semifinal matchup, the Sugar Bowl, had already announced it would allow a maximum of 3,000 fans to attend).
“I’m not sure we’ll play in the playoffs if the parents can’t be there,” Kelly told reporters ahead of the ACC championship game. “Why would we play if you can’t have families at the game? If you can’t have families at bowl games, why would you go to a game where your families can’t be part of it? What’s the sense of playing a game in an area of the country where nobody can be part of it?
“Why can’t it be the Rose Bowl in Las Vegas or can it be the Rose Bowl in another town?” Kelly said. “Where’s the flexibility for the student-athlete is all I’m saying. The one thing these kids have been is incredibly flexible, and then on the other side we can’t be flexible? It’s hard to imagine.”
Kelly was heavily criticized for his comments after getting thoroughly demolished by Clemson in the ACC title game, barely sneaking into the Playoff as the No. 4 seed. But Dabo Swinney, coach of No. 2 Clemson, agreed with his counterpart:
“It makes no sense to me to put a bunch of kids on a plane and fly them all the way to California to play in an empty stadium,” Swinney said. “That makes zero sense.”
Alabama, the top seed of the 2020 Playoff, got the choice of where it wanted to play its semifinal game. Once it was announced the Rose Bowl semifinal would be played in AT&T Stadium, Nick Saban and Co. turned down the Sugar Bowl so it could instead play in Texas. And so No. 4 Notre Dame, despite Kelly’s previous comments, accepted the Rose Bowl invite.
How much do Rose Bowl tickets cost?
Fans hoping to score a ticket to the unique semifinal will need to open up their wallets. The Fort Worth Star Telegram (Austin, Texas), citing TicketIQ.com, reported that Rose Bowl tickets on the secondary market are, on average, the highest they’ve been over the last decade: $893.
Below are several pricing options for the roughly 16,000 available tickets at AT&T Stadium: