It may not be the most pressing issue facing UCLA Football, but the Athletic Department is trying to do something to help give the team a better home field advantage.
They are seeking to move the team from the sunny east bench of the Rose Bowl to the shadier and cooler west bench.
The reason is simple: It would make it cooler and less sunny for our team and coaches.
As an 19-year season ticket holder, I’ve sat on both sides of the Rose Bowl. On a hot afternoon, there is a huge difference between the sidelines. When we sat in Section 2, we’d have to find ways to stay cool including procuring ice from the concession stands by any means necessary. Since we moved to Section 16, I can attest that there is a definite advantage to sitting on the shady west side. Perhaps not at the beginning of a 12:30 start, but, even for a 12:30 start, the sun eventually falls down enough to provide shade to both fans and the team on the West sideline by the end of the game.
It would be a definite advantage for our players to be able to come off the field and into the shade later in the game.
In order to do this, however, the Athletic Department needs to make other adjustments. Conference rules prohibit placing the student section near the opposing team’s bench. And, so, in order to give the team a better home field advantage, the student section would need to be moved.
A survey has been sent to all Den members who have until this Friday, November 25th to complete it. In order for the plan to be implemented, Den members need to vote in favor of it.
Here is a comparison of the current seating chart and the proposed seating chart.
Looking at the proposal as objectively, there are good and bad things about it.
The bad things are that the bulk of the student section would be relocated behind the end zone. I watched a portion of the game against Cal from the end zone last season and there is no doubt that the end zone seats in the Rose Bowl are the worst seats in the building. The “best seats” in the student section are two full sections over from where they are if they just flipped the map.
Of course, it would be extremely difficult, but not impossible, to have flipped the map because that would involve displacing thousands of season ticket holders, myself included, who just started to be required to join the Wooden Athletic Fund to be able to purchase our season tickets.
The good thing about the proposal is that it would benefit the team by getting them onto the shady side of the Rose Bowl.
Another good thing is that, perhaps, by moving the student section from where it is to where it’s proposed to be, it will get more fans on the shady side to stand up.
In addition to approval from the Den, the proposal will also require approval from season ticket holders on the sunny side of the Rose Bowl.
In looking at the proposal, I looked at where other Pac-12 schools seat their student section and it varies. Some of the schools seat their student section entirely in the end zone or end zones. Others locate them in a corner like we do now. A few actually give students prime real estate in a lower section behind the team bench.
The fact of the matter is that there is no easy way to move the team’s bench to the shady side and move the student section as required by conference regulations without some fans making sacrifices.
To me, it seems like this proposal has been created in order to minimize the impact to the fewest fans as possible.
In this case, fans who currently sit on the sunny side would no longer be sitting behind the UCLA bench and the student section would be in a less prime location.
I don’t know why the UCLA bench was originally located on the sunny side of the Rose Bowl. If I had to guess, I’d probably say that it was done to put the team on the side of the field more easily shown by TV cameras.
And, while it seems like there have been more late games the past few years, there have been times in the past 20 years when there were more early games, which left the team at a disadvantage.
Like I said, I know because, for years, I sat in Section 2. But, we moved our seats to the shady side to try to avoid the daytime heat.
It makes sense that our team should have the extra home field advantage that the shady side provides.
So, if you’re a Den member and have received a survey, please complete it ASAP, even if you don’t want the Student Section moved. It’s important to have your opinion heard. If you’re a season ticket holder currently sitting on the sunny side and are sent a similar survey, please complete it also.
I would urge everyone that the Athletic Department is surveying to complete the survey and approve the changes to give our team the best home field advantage possible.
Why would anyone want our team to have to deal with the sun as well as our opponents?