Throughout the 2019 football season, the sports world will be celebrating the 150th anniversary of college football. The Tournament of Roses and Rose Bowl Game will be joining in on the celebration by bringing you the stories of how the Rose Bowl Game has helped shape college football over the last century and a half. This is the eighth of those stories, “Eclipsing 100,000 Fans.”
When the Tournament of Roses held the first East-West Tournament Football Game, which later became the Rose Bowl Game, the field at Tournament Park had temporary bleachers with enough room for 1,000 fans. More than 8,500 spectators arrived to watch Michigan defeated Stanford. Over the next 50 years, the crowd would expand to more than 100,000 annually.
When the building of the Rose Bowl Stadium was completed in the fall of 1922, the horseshoe stadium had a capacity of 57,000. Six years later, the Tournament of Roses decided to close the south end of the stadium and complete the bowl, adding 19,000 seats and upping the overall capacity to 76,000 seats.
Throughout the 1930’s, stadium renovations and improvements increased the seating to 83,000 and then 87,677.
By 1949, the stadium was finally enlarged to accommodate 100,807 guests. The 1950 Rose Bowl Game became the first bowl game to host more than 100,000 fans as Ohio State defeated California, 17-14, in front of 100,983 spectators.
Over the next 50 years, the Rose Bowl Game attendance surpassed 100,000 fans 37 times. From 1965 until 1992, the attendance was over 100,000 annually, with an average attendance of 103,735. The largest crowd in Rose Bowl Game history was 106,869, in 1973, as USC defeated Ohio State, 42-17.
Due to renovations in the 1990’s for World Cup soccer matches and improved seating bowl access, the stadium capacity was reduced under 100,000.
To this day, the Rose Bowl Game can hold the largest crowd among the 40-plus annual bowl games. The current official capacity for the Rose Bowl Game is 89,105, but every game since 2004 has had an attendance of 90,000-plus.
The all-time attendance for the Rose Bowl Game, over the 105 games, is 9,170,897.