By: Paige Serra, Corey Yablonski, Jake Narracci, John Van Ermen
9:30 am. One by one, we walked off the bus and stepped onto hollowed ground. Pasadena may not be know for much, but you can bet that almost every spots fan knows that it’s home to the iconic Rose Bowl. The entrance is dawned with a representation of the Big 10 teams and the PAC 12 teams. Traditionally, the Rose Bowl was where one team from these two conferences would meet. Carved into the ground, one can see the names of each team and the years that they have won the Rose Bowl ga
me. Walk through the main gate, and you can see the Court of Champions. Here is where teams of the past has been recognized and teams of the future eagerly wait to be forever remembered. Bricks in the wall are carved with the year, the teams that played, the coaches for each team, and the most valuable player award winners.
During a brief, yet extensive tour of the Rose Bowl led by Jonathan Jackowski, we were able to see the field, the UCLA football locker room, loge luxury seating, and one of the 150 seat press boxes. Having just gone through roughly $160 million in renovations, many of the locations in the arena that we got to see were pristine and it was easy to tell that they would generate a lot of demand among the fans that attend games at the Rose Bowl. Besides having the distinct pleasure of hosting such an iconic event and standing out among national venues, the Rose Bowl also rises above the rest by being a National Historic Landmark. Because of this, the board in charge of the renovations of the venue needed to petition for the rights to undergo this much-needed face-lift. The venue sits not only in a residential area, but it is actually built into the ground. Because of this, it was hard for us to see the Rose Bowl as we were pulling into the parking lot.
The Rose Bowl is also unique in the sense that the venue is owned by the city of Pasadena. This factor combined with the stadium being located in a residential area presents many difficulties for the management team scheduling and executing events. The biggest being that the Rose Bowl is only allowed to hold, at most, 15 major events each year. One that has over 40,000 attendees defines a major event. In a meeting with Chief Operating Officer, George Cunningham, we were informed about the upcoming major events that the Rose Bowl plans to hold, one of those being a music festival that can be compared to Lollapalooza and Coachella. The Rose Bowl will also hold some major soccer events and potentially be a site for soccer is Los Angeles were to get the Olympic bid for 2024. Not much can compare to experiencing such an iconic and important venue and we are so grateful to have an opportunity that not many will.
Our second stop of the day was the Stub Hub center in Carson, California and was led by Katie Pandolfo, the General Manager of the Stub Hub center. It is most well known for being the home of Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Galaxy. It is owned and operated by AEG, as well as the Los Angeles Galaxy. The facility sits on the the campus of California State Dominguez Hills and is a total of 250 acres. Its main stadium, where the Galaxy, play holds 27,000 on game days. It opened in 2003 to hold the Galaxy, and has many other buildings and fields connected to it. There is also another soccer field that is used for Cal State Dominguez to play soccer as well as Galaxy II, the Galaxy’s development team. As well as two more fields outside its main gate for the United States Men’s and Women’s National teams to use as their main training facility. Both teams have used the main stadium for games in the past, including, most recently, the United States women playing their sendoff series there before they won the World Cup in summer of 2015.
After visiting the field of the main stadium we were then led into a tunnel which took us to a lounge that had all five of the Galaxy’s MLS Cup trophies outside. The Champions Club can hold 275 ticketed people at a price of $3850 for the season. The club gives you a great view of the players walking on and off the field that nobody else in the stadium can have. We were then taken to the Velodrome on the site. A Velodrome is a small indoor arena that is used for track cycling. This one on the site of the Stub Hub Center is one of the only Velodromes in the United States. It was completed shortly before the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece. This being the case, the United States used it as a final training site before heading off to Greece and continue to use it to train for big cycling events to this day. Each turn of the track is banked at forty-five degrees and the room is kept at a constant seventy-two degrees to keep the Siberian pine wood of the track in good condition. In the two types of races that track cycling has, the endurance racers can get up to thirty miles per hour, and the sprinters can reach fifty miles per hour. After the Velodrome, we then began our walk back towards the main stadium where we passed a few of the tennis courts that the facility holds. This is the case because the Stub Hub center is the home of the United States Tennis Associations west coast training center. As well as these courts, there is one main court that is next to the main stadium that holds 8000 people. This small stadium has been the host to small tennis matches, Venus and Serena Williams playing, High School Graduations, Professional Bull Riding, a Lenny Kravitz concert and many Boxing matches that have aired on HBO and NBC Sports. We then ended our trip to the Stub Hub Center and then went to Santa Anita Race Track.
On the third stop of our adventures today we found ourselves at Santa Anita Park. While waiting for Alfred Granillo, the marketing director and event coordinator for Santa Anita, we made sure try to pay special attention to the demographics of the racetrack. From what we originally though, we guessed that there would be a great amount of older people and some who would be in their retirement years that attended the track, and surely enough we were right. Alfred confirmed our prediction, stating that the traditional attendee of their racetrack was those 40 years or older. He also said that it is great that they have a handle on this demographic but they really want to work hard to expand this, they want to get a lot younger. Santa Anita has taken many different attempts, in recent years, to reach out the younger demographic, whether it was the burger and brew fest or a hot wing festival, these are all ideas the people at Santa Anita had come up with to reach these people. However, the most important thing they do is go to social media. With how the industry and the country these days are going, Alfred realized social media is the best way to reach these new demographics.
After Alfred spoke we got to hear from a jockey, Iggy Puglisi. Iggy started off with giving us some advice that he was thought was very important, he said to make sure you are doing something you love, and if you find your passion and what you love don’t let anyone tell you that you won’t be able to do it. He told us the story about how he become a jockey. He fell in love with the sport of horse racing at a very young age, but everyone always told him he was too big and wouldn’t be able to do it. So he went through every diet program possible and none of them really worked. But eventually he was able to lose the weight he needed to and got a little lucky he didn’t grow anymore. Iggy, never gave up on dream and found himself doing something he loved.
Iggy then told a little background of some of the things that go into horse racing and jockeying. He attempted to explain to us the very long and complicated process of how the money from each race is distributed throughout everyone involved. After that he described to us the usual day a jockey has to grow through eating wise, and how they have to lose and gain a lot of weight. But after that he became very honest. When the question was asked of who should be credited in a race more, he said that it is 90 percent horse and only 10 percent jockey. Something very interesting for a jockey to admit. We ended our time at Santa Anita looking at the amazing track with the great backdrop of the mountains of California
4:30 p.m. The bus rolls up to the Staples Center for one of the most unique experiences many of us have ever had. As we are led through the building, we found ourselves walking down a tunnel. At the end of the tunnel, we walk out into the arena just outside the hockey rink. We looked around and took in where we were standing. Before we knew it, we were led out onto the ice and handed sticks with the opportunity to shoot a few pucks from the blue-line. After two sessions of puck-shooting, we followed the carpet t
rail out to center-ice for a group photo that will last a lifetime.
5:00 p.m. We are required to leave the Staple Center as the doors have not yet opened to the public for the Los Angeles Kings game. The group split up and crossed the street to venture around L.A. Live and grab dinner before the doors opening at 6:30 p.m. The smaller groups made their way back to the arena for the Kings game versus the New York Rangers. We had a variety of hockey fans, from passionate die-hards to first-timers, but the level of excitement was consistent throughout.
60 minutes of hockey, 6 goals, 2 coach’s challenges, and plenty of snacks later, we found ourselves with a game tied at 3 and headed to overtime. About halfway through the extra session of hockey, the crowd was in joyous uproar as a shot from Jake Muzzin at the blue-line was beautifully redirected by Anze Kopitar mid-flight, and found its way past Henrik Lundqvist to the back of the net. There was some mixed emotions in the group about the result of the game as some were Rangers fans, and others wanted a victorious Kings team. There were some other important notes from the game. The Kings regulation time goals were scored by Dustin Brown, Kyle Clifford, and Anze Kopitar. The goals for the Rangers were scored by JT Miller, Dan Boyle, and Kevin Hayes. There was a celebrity siting as Aaron Rodgers and Olivia Munn were shown on the big board. We also had 4 alumni visit us at our seats to talk to some of the group. Finally, thanks to Kelly Cheeseman, there was a visual on the board recognizing our group for attendance to the game.