David Misch had watched his share of Rose Bowl games on TV, but his first one as a fan inside the stadium this year was one for the books.
Misch hopes to make sure people hear about this and every other game that’s been played at America’s stadium since the inaugural kickoff in 1922. And every concert. And every rally. And everything, really.
Misch, a member of the Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation Advisory Board and the CEO of Pasadena-based Community Bank, is a Cleveland native who earned both of his degrees from Penn State. He had settled in Pittsburgh and, quite naturally, became a Steelers fan. In 2006, he relocated to Southern California for work and was hired at Community Bank four years ago.
Attending the Rose Bowl, which he would watch on TV growing up, was always elusive for Misch, as he and his family typically travel back home from the holidays on New Year’s Day, the traditional day of the game. However, this year’s game fell on Jan. 2 (because of the Rose Bowl’s “Never on Sunday” rule) so he could attend this game — which featured none other than his Penn State Nittany Lions against the USC Trojans.
While rushing to get to his seat before kickoff, he had a chance run-in with USC Athletic Director Lynn Swann, who spent his entire NFL Hall of Fame career with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The stars, for Misch, had aligned.
“They totally did,” he said. “It was meant to be, except for the score at the end of the game.” (USC rallied for a 52-49 victory.)
“We’re one of the largest employers in Pasadena,” Misch said, overlooking setup for the recent U2 concert at the Rose Bowl and shortly after filming a promotional commercial for the Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation. “It was really important for us to be a part of the Rose Bowl. It is a part of what Pasadena is. You can’t have Pasadena without the Rose Bowl and vice versa.”
Misch’s fingerprints will stay with the Rose Bowl: Community Bank ponied up $50,000 to go toward a renovation of the original locker room, which is priced at around half a million dollars and expected to function as a miniature museum, detailing the history and highlights of the landmark. Four TV screens will showcase a video history of the Rose Bowl (complete with a shaking room when footage plays of a stealth bomber flying overhead) and factoids and memorabilia will be festooned around the entire room. It’ll likely be a better fate for the historic room, which has been used as storage or a break room since it was repurposed in 1928.
“There are artifacts all throughout,” said Dedan Brozino, executive director of the Legacy Foundation. “It’s kind of a timeline. The idea is that this is a showroom to really activate people to everything this venue is.”
The decision to help out with the project was an easy one, Misch said. “I was sort of miffed that a Pasadena bank wasn’t doing more for Pasadena,” he said.
Darryl Dunn, CEO and general manager of the Rose Bowl, said the idea to redo this locker room was born around four or five years ago with the tour program at the facility.
“One of, if not, the greatest things about the Rose Bowl is our history,” Dunn said in a telephone interview. “I can’t wait for this to come to life. People thought it was really cool and we got that feedback (from the tours). That’s what started it. What a great way to do a showroom, to take the 1922 locker room and freshen it up a bit.”
Ron Okum, vice president and treasurer of the Legacy Foundation and a past president of the Tournament of Roses, said public support for the venue has always been tremendous and this addition should further encourage fans of the iconic location to keep supporting it.
“It’ll bring people in and give them an entertainment system,” Okum said. “It will help us raise funds to help maintain the stadium and give people some pre-game entertainment.”
Misch gushed about the significance of the venue, not least because of what it meant to him and his fellow sports fans growing up.
“That was always the game,” he said. “One of the things that struck me is how much more it is than just a stadium. It just goes on and on and on. This is the big amenity here. It’s a great opportunity that we’re very thankful to be able to support. When do you get a chance to be involved with the original locker room of the granddaddy of all games?”