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Lawmakers form caucus to throw federal support behind Tiger Stadium, other historic sports venues

6 months 4 days 5 hours ago Friday, August 25 2023 Aug 25, 2023 August 25, 2023 11:17 AM August 25, 2023 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - Congressman Garret Graves and other U.S. representatives launched the Historic Stadium Caucus on Friday, a bi-partisan group of Congressmembers with the goal of "preserving the legacy and protecting the integrity" of the country's most historic sports venues.

A news release Friday said the group's goal is to not only preserve those stadiums but to enhance them to better meet modern expectations. The announcement highlights venues like LSU's Tiger Stadium and California's Rose Bowl Stadium. 

Read the full announcement below. 

US Representatives Garret Graves (R–Louisiana) and Mark Pocan (D–Wisconsin) announced today the launch of the Historic Stadium Caucus. The caucus will bring together a bipartisan group of Congressmembers to work on preserving the legacy and protecting the integrity of these treasured venues across America while enhancing their capabilities, so they are able to continue to host world-class sporting events and concerts for generations to come.

“Historic stadiums, such as Tiger Stadium at LSU, play an important role in the environment that makes college athletics special. The game day traditions in iconic venues around the country are unique and are worthy of discussion”
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“When Tiger fans walk into Death Valley on Saturday nights, they do more than watch a football game – they walk into a 99-year-old local icon that supports our regional economy. Every bowl of jambalaya scooped and Tiger Dog served injects jobs and resources into our community,” said Rep. Graves, who represents Louisiana’s 6th Congressional District which includes Tiger Stadium, home of the LSU Tigers. “I am proud to join Rep. Pocan to preserve the legacies of some of our most historic landmarks and create new memories for future generations.”

In launching the Historic Stadium Caucus, Reps. Pocan and Graves recognize the significance of these iconic venues and are seeking to protect their value while adapting them to meet evolving needs. The caucus will bring much-needed attention to historic stadiums that were among the first major athletic venues in the United States and continue to host some of sport and entertainment’s most marquee events each year. Furthermore, these historic venues are economic catalysts for their local economies and emergency preparedness centers for local, county and state agencies.

“Historic stadiums, like Camp Randall Stadium where the University of Wisconsin-Madison Badgers play, serve a vital role in our communities,” said Rep. Pocan, who represents Wisconsin’s 2nd Congressional District. “Not only are they where memories are made and young people get inspired to play sports, but they’re often hubs of economic activity. We must do everything we can to protect these iconic venues in our communities. I’m glad to join Representative Graves in forming the bipartisan Historic Stadiums Caucus and look forward to the work we’ll accomplish together.”

Among the stadiums that the caucus includes is the oldest remaining football stadium in the United States, University of Penn’s Franklin Field that opened in 1895. The Rose Bowl Stadium, built in 1922 in Pasadena, California, has hosted five Super Bowl games, gold medal matches for two Olympic Games with a third coming to the venue in 2028, two FIFA World Cup Finals, the 1982 Army-Navy Game, UCLA Football since 1982, and the annual Rose Bowl Game® since 1923. Now in its centennial year, Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum will host its third Olympic Games in 2028 after hosting in 1932 and 1984. The Rose Bowl Stadium and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum will become the first venues in history to host the Olympic Games three times. Wisconsin’s Camp Randall Stadium has been home to the Wisconsin Badgers football team since 1917 and witnessed the rise of football icons like Heisman Trophy winner Alan Ameche and J.J. Watt. Entering its centennial season in 2024, LSU’s Tiger Stadium has seen multiple NFL superstars jumpstart their careers, from quarterbacks Y.A. Tittle in the 1940s to Joe Burrow in the 2010s.

“Historic stadiums, such as Tiger Stadium at LSU, play an important role in the environment that makes college athletics special. The game day traditions in iconic venues around the country are unique and are worthy of discussion,” said LSU Athletic Director Scott Woodward. “I appreciate the Historic Stadium Caucus co-chairs, Garret Graves and Mark Pocan, for recognizing the need for healthy dialogue around the protection of historic stadiums.”

The launch of the Historic Stadium Caucus marks a pivotal moment in the preservation and modernization of historic stadiums. The caucus’ commitment to protecting some of America’s national historic landmarks will help focus attention on the infrastructure needs of historic college football stadiums throughout the country.

“Since I was 10 years old, the Rose Bowl, the Coliseum and so many others have truly been pillars in what they represent to so many people around the country,” said Ronnie Lott, College and Pro Football Hall of Famer who won four Super Bowls in his career and former USC Trojan. “We must protect these historic buildings around the country due to what they mean in their communities and to those who use them daily. The infrastructure is truly important to keep these iconic places going for many more years to come.”

"I’ve had the honor of playing in so many historic stadiums over the course of my career, from the Rose Bowl to Cotton Bowl, and a variety in between. It’s not just about the athletes taking the field, but the environment that these iconic stadiums create for the fans – the energy feels electric and as a soccer player, creates the ‘12th man,’ so to speak,” said Cobi Jones, a National Soccer Hall of Fame inductee and the all-time leader in international appearances for the United States Men’s National Soccer Team. “The preservation and appropriate infrastructure developments of these stadiums should be front and center, as they are a link to our past and a gateway to our future for families, sports, entertainment and more.”

At the launch, eighteen of the most iconic college football venues are committed to participating in the Historic Stadium Caucus. These include:

-Beaver Stadium (Penn State University, State College, Pennsylvania),
-Camp Randall Stadium (University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin),
-Cotton Bowl (Dallas, Texas),
-Davis Wade Stadium (Mississippi State University, Starkville, Mississippi),
-Franklin Field (University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania),
-Husky Stadium (University of Washington, Seattle, Washington),
-Jordan-Hare Stadium (Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama),
-Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California),
-Memorial Stadium (University of California, Berkeley, California),
-Memorial Stadium (University of Illinois, Champaign, Illinois),
-Memorial Stadium (Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina),
-Nippert Stadium (University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio),
-Rose Bowl Stadium (Pasadena, California),
-SJSU Spartan Stadium (San Jose State University, San Jose, California),
-Tiger Stadium (Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana),
-Vaught–Hemingway Stadium at Hollingsworth Field (University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi),
-Wallace Wade Stadium (Duke University, Durham, North Carolina), and
-Yale Bowl (Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut).

“Historic stadiums like the Rose Bowl have been the backbone of American sports and entertainment for over a century, but their viability and continued operations are in jeopardy with the evolving landscape and expectations of modern-day sports and entertainment,” said Jens Weiden, General Manager and Chief Executive Officer of the Rose Bowl Stadium. “History is the soul of these stadiums, and they hold a special place in the heart of our communities as valuable engines for economic impact and emergency preparedness. We thank Representatives Graves and Pocan for their leadership in the formation of the Historic Stadium Caucus and are grateful to the other members who have joined the caucus. The Rose Bowl has been a critical voice and a leader in the need for the Historic Stadium Caucus. We believe the launch of the caucus will be a crucial step forward in protecting these iconic venues from being overshadowed and will undoubtedly work towards the appropriate preservation and infrastructure necessities that can continue to energize their existence.”

The mission of the Caucus is to assist representatives of historic stadiums – and those who are passionate about safeguarding iconic venues – in ensuring the stadiums can stay up-to-date with the latest technological advancements and security measures, as well as environmental practices, all while preserving their rich historical legacy.

Some of the key areas that the Historic Stadium Caucus will focus on are:

-Security and Safety enhancements: With growing concerns about safety and security in public spaces, the caucus will focus on how the historic stadiums are able to implement cutting-edge security measures without compromising the historical character or footprint of the stadiums. This will enable these venues to continue to host events with an iconic energy, such as major college and professional sporting events, national and globally-significant competitions, and concerts by world-class musicians.
-Technological Upgrades: Given the amount of fans each venue welcomes annually, the Historic Stadium Caucus will help focus attention on the fact that these stadiums – many of which are over or nearing 100 years old – are in need of technological upgrades to ensure that these iconic venues can meet the modern-day patron standard as well as the expectations put forth to remain leaders in compliance related to local, state and federal safety standards.
-Funding for Infrastructure Updates: As with many historic buildings, some stadiums could benefit from essential infrastructure upgrades. While these venues have stood the test of time, ensuring their continued functionality and longevity requires investments in their infrastructure not just for significant sports and entertainment events, but for the appropriate use by the communities that they serve in times of positive togetherness, but emergency needs, as well.

The historic stadiums are not only the locations for some of the most significant sporting events of all time, but they are also where sportsmanship, leadership, and teamwork are fostered and on display from the student-athletes, coaches and administrators that steward their continued existence.

“It is important to remember that these historic stadiums are not just grass, goalposts, and concrete. They are a point of pride for cities and states where generations have come together to cheer, celebrate, and create lasting memories,” said Dedan Brozino, President of the Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation, which has a mission of protecting, preserving, and enhancing the future of the Rose Bowl Stadium. “By investing in infrastructure, we are not only preserving the physical structures, but also strengthening the cultural heritage, sense of identity and sportsmanship initiatives that these stadiums represent. This effort will undoubtedly ensure that these hallowed grounds continue to serve as symbols of unity, passion, and community for the next generation.”

The Historic Stadium Caucus’ co-chairs, Reps. Graves and Pocan, will circulate a “Dear Colleague” letter to ask other members of Congress to join, and move forward discussing strategies to preserve the historic stadiums across America.

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