So you're attending the Copa América Centenario! Congratulations!
Surely you've forked over too many of your hard-earned dollars for this privilege, but what's done is done, and now you're gearing up for a game in this unprecedented tournament.
If you're going to a game at the Rose Bowl and don't know what to expect, here is our guide of what to do, what to avoid, and how to traverse Pasadena to get to and from the game.
Make a plan
This probably sounds silly, but trust me, it's not. The Rose Bowl holds over 90,000 spectators, and the stadium itself is basically situated in the suburbs. It's not right off the freeway like Dodger Stadium or in an urban location like Staples Center or the Los Angeles Coliseum. It will take time to get to the stadium, no matter how you plan to do it.
So the first recommendation is to plan out how you're going to get to the stadium, what you will eat and give yourself plenty of time to get to the stadium. Obviously the tailgating starts early, but this is not something you're going to want to show up late to, so be sure to give yourself all the time you'll need to get to your destination.
Decide on transportation
Driving to the stadium has its benefits and drawbacks. A drawback is it will probably take you a really long time to get there and park. But driving there will deliver you (pretty much) right at the stadium, and although getting out can be a challenge, too, you have the freedom to come and go when you like, more or less.
Besides driving to the Rose Bowl, what other options do you have? I took the metro from Los Angeles to Pasadena last year for CONCACAF Cup, which was a fantastic plan until I realized I had a two-mile walk from the metro stop in Pasadena to the actual Rose Bowl. Maybe you don't mind a two-mile walk (remember, you'd have to walk back to the metro, in the dark) but that's actually far less convenient than I thought it was going to be.
You can also take a shuttle to the game. I did this for the 2011 Gold Cup final, parking near the city center of Pasadena and taking a bus to the stadium. Getting there was a relatively speedy trip, although the return trip to my car took far longer. But it's convenient to shut your brain off and let a bus take you to where you're going.
Foothill Transit offers a round-trip shuttle for $5, cheaper than parking at the stadium and again, a way to cut down on the gridlock to and from the stadium. I would definitely recommend this option if you have no plans to tailgate.
Of course, there are uber/lyft/taxi options as well, but I would imagine these will not be cheap on gamedays.
What are you going to eat?
One of the odd things I've found in my Rose Bowl experiences is that the food options aren't great. There may be a little stand that's to die for, I don't know, but for all the atmosphere and beautiful scenery that the locale provides, outstanding food and drink options are not part of the package.
I would recommend if you aren't planning to tailgate outside the stadium, you eat before you embark on your trip to the stadium. It would also be a good idea to bring some snacks, too. That way, you can pace yourself without passing out from too much alcohol and not enough food, or because your blood sugar has plummeted over the course of 8 or 10 hours.
It's bound to be busy on game day, but Colorado Blvd. and thereabouts is the de facto "downtown" Pasadena and there are food options for everyone around there. The area trends more to chain restaurants, but there is a variety of types of food to satisfy just about every craving.
If you want to go further afield before game time, there are also plenty of options in Los Angeles, most notably the neighborhoods of Eagle Rock and Highland Park, both of which border Pasadena. One place I'd recommend? Cacao Mexicatessen, on Colorado Blvd. in Eagle Rock. It's busy and you may have a wait to order at the counter, but the wait is worth it, believe me.
I don't have a ticket right now, but want to be part of the action. What can I do?
First, if you really want to go to a game, chances are tickets will be available for the first two games, and possibly even for the Mexico-Jamaica game. They aren't going to be cheap, most likely, but you still have time to get tickets for the games. Go to CA2016.com for more info on tickets.
Now, if you can't afford a ticket but want to participate in a communal activity in Pasadena, there is another option: the FanHQ.
Now, I think the FanHQ sites are meant to be like "Fanzones" that have taken off in major tournaments in recent years, but the local one won't be exactly like those events. FanHQ events will take place at The Rose in Pasadena (245 E Green St.) on the night before each Rose Bowl game (Friday, June 3; Monday, June 6; Wednesday, June 8).
One important note to the FanHQ events at The Rose -- entrance is free, but you must register ahead of time to get into the proceedings. Go to this page to get info and find out where to register for the FanHQ in Pasadena.
One last thing...the games! Here's who will be playing at the Rose Bowl this week and next in the Copa América Centenario
Brazil vs. Ecuador: Saturday, June 4; 7 pm PT
Colombia vs. Paraguay: Tuesday, June 7; 7:30 pm PT
Mexico vs. Jamaica: Thursday, June 9; 7 pm PT
Got any tips for a Rose Bowl excursion? Leave a comment below!