PASADENA — At the Rose Bowl, fall means football and football means tailgate parties.
Thus, in the past two weeks, began Act II of the set-to between Rose Bowl and UCLA officials. Subtitle: A tempest in a beer cup.
For now, however, all's well that ends well.
At stake was the alcohol traditionally sold at two major UCLA tailgating parties at Brookside Park, the six-acre park owned by the city of Pasadena in front of the Rose Bowl.
Since 1982, when the Bruins began playing their home games at the Pasadena stadium, about 1,000 members of the UCLA Cheer alumni association have met in the park for pre-game parties. In addition, a big tent goes up in the park before each game for the chancellor's party, a fete at which university bigwigs rub elbows with major contributors.
Two weeks ago, after invitations for the Sept. 9 chancellor's party had been mailed, UCLA was informed that the city of Pasadena intended to enforce a longtime ordinance against drinking in city parks.
"It's a really old ordinance," said Greg Asbury, who took over as Rose Bowl manager in May. "Apparently, over the years, people tailgated and drank in the park, even though signs against it are posted throughout the area."
Pasadena officials say they didn't intend to enforce the drinking ban for individuals.
Before the 1988 season, Cheer members sold their own beer, in between tossing around a football and barbecuing steaks, said Steve Salm, UCLA athletic business manager. That ended last fall, when the city required Cheer to use Service America Corp., the stadium's concessionaire.
But UCLA Cheer members decided after the season that they didn't like using the concessionaire, and so in February asked if they could go back to selling their own beer.
Meanwhile, Asbury and other city officials decided to prohibit alcohol sales in the park but allow exemptions for organizations that meet certain requirements, including liability insurance and a state liquor license.
Neither UCLA Cheer nor the chancellor's party met the requirements.
The new policy floored UCLA, which got the word Aug. 14, less than four weeks before the first home game, Salm said. "We were looking at a narrowly defined question, 'Can UCLA Cheer serve beer?' and we were told, not only can't you do that" but a slew of new regulations were added.
By Tuesday, the two sides had reached a compromise: UCLA Cheer won't sell beer. The chancellor's party will get an exemption.
"The bottom line is things are not significantly different than the way they were in the past," Salm said. "I guess it's like Shakespeare wrote, 'Much Ado About Nothing.' "