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This Day in NC History: The Rose Bowl relocated to Durham

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On January 1, 1942, the Rose Bowl was played in Durham—the only time the game has not been played in Pasadena, California. With America having then joined World War II, there was concern about holding the match, or, indeed, any large public gathering, on the west coast for fear of attack. The Duke University Blue Devils and the Oregon State University Beavers and all of their fans potentially would be in great danger.

Even before the Tournament of Roses Committee officially called the game off, Duke football coach Wallace Wade offered to host the game at Duke. The city of Durham and Duke University had only about two weeks to prepare for the festivities. During that time they managed to increase the capacity of the stadium from 34,000 to 56,000 seats by borrowing bleachers from neighboring University of North Carolina and N.C. State. The tickets sold out in three days. The face value of tickets for bleacher seats was $4.40, though scalpers offered tickets for as much as $25.

Duke was the clear favorite to win the hastily relocated bowl game. Wade had led the Blue Devils to an unbeaten and untied season in 1941. The game, however, was a major upset. Oregon State won 20 to 16.

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online at www.NCDCR.gov.

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