Challenges of hosting an international sporting event

(Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)
(Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

The Rose Bowl is a National Historic Landmark and the only venue in the world to have hosted an Olympics gold medal soccer match (1984), men’s World Cup final (1994) and women’s World Cup final (1999).

Hosting these successful iconic international events helped elevate the Rose Bowl to its current status as a world-class sports venue.  As with any large venue hosting an international event, the challenges are numerous and began well before the first touch of the ball.

The process begins earlier with bidding for the event and negotiating use agreements.  Even in 1994, security was already a primary focus for the operations of the venue.  There were the logistics of hosting thousands of members of the press, planning an unbelievable fan experience, and mitigating potential traffic and parking concerns for fans and employees.  Of course, there were the basic fundamentals of any large venues: electrical, plumbing, concessions and field preparations.

The host and sponsorship committees laid the groundwork for the event, as well as for sponsorship and ticket sales.   A venue such as the Rose Bowl must develop and maintain effective working relationships with all partners on the external and operational sides.  This is an enormous responsibility with hosting an international event with high visibility, but a successful one can create long-term opportunities for the venue.

Securing and hosting events along the lines of a World Cup have changed significantly over the years.  Now, in addition to the competitive bidding process by countries to host the event, there is also competition among various cities and stadiums to host the game.  For the World Cup, this process has been in place for many years, but it has grown much more competitive, intense and costly.

In 1994, the World Cup venture was a full-cost reimbursement for the Rose Bowl with a use premium paid to the City of Pasadena, above the actual costs, with no expectation of public or venue subsidy.  Today, subsidies of the event are the norm and expectation, which makes it more essential that a venue partners with a regional support group, such as a sports commission or a Convention Visitors Bureau, to make it possible.  International events bring a boost to local and regional economies as well as priceless publicity and a collective effort is the ignition.

An area of critical importance but often unrecognized is the legal work that goes into the bid process and ultimate agreements on mega-events.  The Rose Bowl used in-house counsel to negotiate with the many entities involved, from the host committee to the Department of Defense, to name but two.

The Olympics and men’s and women’s World Cups were successful events from all vantage points and helped expose the Rose Bowl Stadium to millions of new fans.   In addition, these events helped propel soccer in the United States by the establishment of professional leagues and the enormous popularity of soccer among the youth of America.


Darryl Dunn is serving as CEO/General Manager for the Rose Bowl Operating Company in Pasadena, California.  He has held this position since 1999.

He is responsible for managing all aspects of the facility, including; contract negotiations with prospective events, ongoing relationships with existing tenants; Tournament of Roses and UCLA all financial, marketing, operational needs for the stadium, and long term strategic planning, as well as community relations.

His accomplishments including leading the Rose Bowl Operating Company in securing a $168 million renovation that will provide the stadium with significant long term capital improvements, and securing 30 year contracts with UCLA, and Tournament of Roses, as well as 15 year agreements with IMG and Legends.   He has booked and overseen such events as: three BCS National Championship Games, 14 UCLA seasons, and has hosted such events as: Finals of 1999 Women’s World Cup Final (largest attended women’s athletic event in the world), U2 at the Rose Bowl (largest attended concert for a single band in United States history), international soccer, including matches involving Barcelona, Real Madrid, Chelsea, and the national teams of Mexico, United States, and Brazil. 


Nicholas George Rodriguez served as General Counsel of the Rose Bowl Operating Company from its inception in 1992 and handled the legal work for its formation as well as being centrally involved in every event and construction project at the stadium until 2012.  He personally handled all of the stadium’s legal work for World Cup 1994 as well as for the Women’s World Cup.   He is a graduate of Cornell University and Boalt Hall School of Law and is presently in private practice in Pasadena. Mr. Rodriguez also sits as a member of the governing board of the Rose Bowl.

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