Tournament of Roses sues Pasadena over Rose Bowl naming rights – Daily News

on Feb5
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The Tournament of Roses filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Pasadena on Feb. 4, asking the courts to define exactly who owns the naming rights to the Rose Bowl Game.

Pasadena believes the naming rights are shared; the Tournament, meanwhile, believes it has sole ownership.

“We are a nonprofit civic organization with hundreds of volunteers and deep roots in Pasadena,” David Eads, executive director and chief executive, said in a statement on Thursday, Feb. 4. “This is where the parade and the game belong every year, and we have no intention of going anywhere.

“Unfortunately, the city of Pasadena’s attempt to assert co-ownership in what are indisputably our trademarks threatens to interfere with our ability to carry out even routine business activities, and we have no choice but to get confirmation of our rights by the courts.”

City spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said officials received the lawsuit minutes before the Tournament of Roses’ news release went out late Thursday afternoon. They had yet to review the claims when asked for comment.

This dispute stressed relations between the city and Tournament over the winter when California’s coronavirus restrictions kept fans and players’ families out of the stands for the iconic Rose Bowl Game, leading the Tournament of Roses and the College Football Playoffs to push for a move to Texas where restrictions were looser.

The Tournament of Roses invoked the contract’s “force majeure” clause, arguing because the game was impacted by a pandemic — something no one could control — the Tournament had the right to move the game even though the contract stipulates it will be played in Pasadena, as long as the stadium is in working order.

After more than a week of negotiations when it was unclear if the replacement game would be called the “Rose Bowl Game,” the two parties came to a $2 million deal on Dec. 30, 2020.

At the time, Eads said, “While the Tournament of Roses has the right to play the Rose Bowl Game in an alternate venue this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we felt it was important to do so in consultation with the city of Pasadena.”

The city, meanwhile, delivered a very different message.

In an updated contract, signed by the Tournament of Roses and Pasadena when they agreed to move the game, the city said it believed that the college semifinal game “could be held in a safe and lawful manner at the Rose Bowl Stadium consistent with its recent successful history of hosting four UCLA football games at the Rose Bowl Stadium with all associated broadcast media and game-day crew.”

Then, Mayor Victor Gordo said the public “should understand clearly that the Rose Bowl Game, contractually, will be played in the Rose Bowl Stadium on Jan. 1 going forward, absent some world pandemic or world war type of conditions.

“This should not be viewed as a practice going forward,” he continued. “Moving the Rose Bowl Game outside of the Rose Bowl Stadium is not acceptable, nor is it something that I, as mayor of Pasadena, would support absent these extraordinary circumstances.”

Even before the deal was signed, Capitol One, the game’s chief sponsor, was promoting the Texas game as the “Rose Bowl Game.” It added to a confusing week of negotiations when there was radio silence from both the city and Tournament until they signed an updated contract just two days before the game would be played.

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