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Stadiums Prepare for College Football Playoff Games

Mercedes-Benz Stadium football

With football season winding down, college football teams are preparing for the upcoming Bowl Games across the country.

The Rose Bowl will be played in Pasadena, CA on January 1, the same day The Allstate Sugar Bowl will be played in New Orleans. The College Football Playoff (CFP) National Championship will be played on January 8 in Atlanta. With the games just over a month away, we look at the stadiums where these games are being played.

The Rose Bowl is an annual New Year’s Day tradition starting off with the Rose Parade, which then counts down to the football game. While the first Rose Bowl game was played in 1902, it didn’t become the annual game that we all know and love until 1916, when Washington State won against Brown University. The game itself has existed longer than Rose Bowl stadium which was first constructed in 1922. Prior to the Rose Bowl being built, games had been played at Tournament Park.

The only time the game has not been played in the Rose Bowl stadium since its first in 1923 was in 1942. Due to the attack on Pearl Harbor, officials were concerned about the safety of hosting the Rose Bowl. The game was almost cancelled until Duke University invited organizers to host the game at its stadium in Durham, NC.

Rose Bowl

The Rose Bowl was constructed by architect Myron Hunt and was originally a horseshoe shape for the first few years, with the first football game being held on October 28, 1922. The southern stands were built in 1928 to complete the bowl. Numerous upgrades have been made to the facility over the years including replacing the original wooden benches with aluminum benches in the late 1960s, and updating the grandstand and loge seats in 1971. According to the Rose Bowl’s website, there are more upgrades to be made in the coming years including new stadium lights, new stadium seating, Wi-Fi, updated stadium safety elements, an updated videoboard, updated stadium concession stands and bathrooms, and improvements to the Brookside Clubhouse.

The Rose Bowl has already begun a $40 million capital campaign that will culminate when the Rose Bowl turns 100 years old in 2022. According to the INSPIRE campaign website, “the campaign will directly reflect the mission of the Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation to preserve, protect and enhance the Rose Bowl Stadium, through capital improvement projects, the creation of a Rose Bowl Museum Experience, and the development of inspirational and educational programs to serve youth and the community.”

On New Year’s Day, another college football playoff game will be underway with the Allstate Sugar Bowl taking place at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. The Superdome is about 50 years newer than the Rose Bowl, as it opened in 1975. It has been the home stadium of the NFL’s New Orleans Saints and the Sugar Bowl since opening.

Mercedes-Benz Superdome

David Dixon was a sport entrepreneur with a love of New Orleans and wanted to bring an NFL team to the Big Easy. Because of his campaigning, the Superdome raised funding and was built at a cost of close to $165 million. Hiccups along the way kept Super Bowl IX from being played at the Superdome, as construction was months behind schedule and the game was played at Tulane Stadium. However, the Super Bowl XII was played there in 1978 and multiple games have been held there since.

While many improvements have been made as the Superdome has aged, perhaps one of the biggest hurdles was making renovations after Hurricane Katrina. According to the Superdome’s website, the Superdome served as a “Refuge of Last Resort” for 30,000 evacuees and was closed for 13 months for major repairs and improvements. Repairs were estimated to cost $185 million. During the 2005 season, the Saints were on the road for most of their home games including playing four games at LSU’s stadium in Baton Rouge, about 80 miles north of New Orleans. The Sugar Bowl was played at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

Another improvement made was Champions Square which opened in 2010 and is 90,000 square feet festival plaza which has hosted numerous community events. In 2011, the Superdome was christened the Mercedes-Benz Superdome as part of a 10-year naming rights contact. So what’s next for the Superdome? According to a November 22 story from Fox8, WVUE, based out of New Orleans, the Superdome will be around for years to come as the Superdome Commission is studying improvements in the building and looking to enhance the area around the stadium to develop jobs and economic development.

Another sports venue that has been christened by Mercedes-Benz is Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, which is home to the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and will host the CFP National Championship. This is a brand-new facility that is slated to cost around $1.5 billion and was opened on August 26,2017. There have been a lot of technology bells and whistles which have impressed since the venue opened including a 360-degree halo board, and a state-of-the-art Wi-Fi network which can support around 70,000 streaming devices. Stadium officials have also stated that Mercedes-Benz Stadium is the first professional sports stadium in the world to achieve LEED Platinum Certification, which sets it apart as an eco-friendly stadium.

The stadium has received rave reviews since opening and is sure to be a packed house for the National Championship.

Images courtesy Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Rose Bowl Stadium, and Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

This article first appeared in the weekly Football Stadium Digest newsletter. Are you a subscriber? It’s free, and you’ll see features like this before they appear on the Web. Go here to subscribe to the Football Stadium Digest newsletter.

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August Publications