It looks like the coaches and committee members who complain the loudest get their way, as the College Football Playoff semifinal scheduled for the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1 is moving to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

The Rose Bowl
The Rose Bowl will remain empty on New Year’s Day as the College Football Playoff committee decided Saturday night to move the game to Arlington, Texas in light of the current COVID-19 outbreak in Southern California, and the state’s refusal to let fans attend. (Image: AP)

The announcement came Saturday night as the Tournament of Roses was denied a pair of requests on Thursday to allow up to 400–500 spectators for the New Year’s Day game.

First Tournament of Roses Cancelation Since World War II

Saturday’s CFP decision marks a clean sweep of New Year’s Day cancelations for Pasadena. The 2021 Rose Parade was called off in July because of the pandemic—the first time since World War II the Tournament of Roses goes dark.

The Rose Bowl Game has a TV contract with ESPN for $80 million annually that is separate from the CFP. There was no immediate word from the game’s organizers or ESPN whether that contract will be voided this year.

The denial of the request to lift the ban on any personnel not on the competition teams was not unexpected. Before starting the shortened Pac-12 season in November, both UCLA and USC sought exemptions that would allow family members to attend home games. Their requests were denied.

College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock said Saturday night that the CFP management committee and the Tournament of Roses agreed to relocate the game because of the growing number of COVID-19 cases in Southern California.

“We are very grateful to Rose Bowl officials and the City of Pasadena. They have worked hard to listen to the concerns of the CFP, the teams that might have played there, and their state and government officials,” Hancock said in a statement. “We are pleased that parents and loved ones will now be able to see their students play in the game.”

With more than 280,000 cases reported in California in the last seven days, LA County has been hit hardest in the state. Health officials are now saying nearly all of the region’s ICUs are full due to a significant spike in hospitalizations.

LA County Hospitals Overloaded, Worst Yet to Come

Southern California’s medical system may have to start rationing medical care, forcing doctors and nurses to make wartime-like decisions about who will receive care, and who won’t.

While death on a scale unparalleled in US history ravages parts of the country, coaches like Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly and Clemson’s Dabo Swinney complained Friday about not being able to have parents or close family members of athletes attend the Rose Bowl, with Kelly saying he would boycott the game altogether.