Thursday night, the 2009-2010 College Football Season culminated in the National Championship BCS Title Game, held right here at the Rose Bowl. Though I don’t have connections to either Alabama’s Crimson Tide or the Texas Longhorns (besides my unreasonable dislike towards the Longhorns), I decided to drop a sizable chunk of change and attend the game. I didn’t have to travel; they brought the game to me, so why not?
Thing is, much like the Rose Parade last week, I’ve never gone to the Rose Bowl as just a spectator, either, so it was a completely new experience for me. I went crazy taking pictures inside and outside the stadium and reveling in the gorgeous weather and how easy it was to simply walk there from Old Town Pasadena. But as I took in the tailgating scene and then settled into my seat for the game, I realized… I was, like, the only person who actually lives here.
That’s a slight exaggeration, of course (I’m pretty sure I did see Jason Schwartzman. He’s an actor, he does live here, right?). I’m sure there’s Alabama fans in LA, and there are tons of Texas alumni in this town. But damned if I wasn’t surrounded by a bunch of tourists the entire night. The people I sat near were dudes who flew in from Austin, people who possessed awesome/ridiculous Southern accents, or were the brothers (one a Crimson Tide fan, one a Longhorns fan) who drove up from San Diego.
I should’ve expected as much, though. College Bowl games are designed to draw in tourism, banking on fans to travel across the country to support their teams. And it doesn’t just benefit restaurants and hotels in Pasadena, the whole region gets a boost – the out-of-towners flock to attractions like Disneyland, and my friends remarked on the crazy amount of Crimson and Burnt Orange seen at Hollywood and Highland Wednesday night. The game itself is designed for them, too.
So, much as I went along learning the words to the songs and cheers of the Alabama fans (what else? I was rooting against the Longhorns), I went along with the whole tourist thing. I paid too much for food, took pictures at an annoying rate, gawked at celebrities on the sidelines (I’m not usually star-struck, but Lee Corso!!), and even got lost trying to get out of the place.
Though I was a stone’s throw from home, while I was there, I pretty much was a tourist (just one a bit less prone to purchasing souvenirs). Up until I got back to Old Town and resumed my regular role of giving people directions, explaining to a poor drunk Tide fan left behind by his friends just how long it would take him to get back to North Hollywood, and briskly bypassing the crowds because I’ve seen it all a thousand times before. Oh, and kind of lashing out at people on the bus who complained that there wasn’t a “celebrity” halftime show, just marching bands. Come on, people, it’s still the Rose Bowl, what did you come for?