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NOTEBOOK : Grid Classic Will Stay at Same Old Site

August 21, 1994|KIRBY LEE | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The East Los Angeles Classic will be played again at East L.A. College. At least for one more year.

The annual football game between Garfield and Roosevelt high schools at East L.A. College had been rumored to be moved to the Rose Bowl for several years, but corporate sponsorship to meet the Rose Bowl's $158,000 rental fee has not materialized for the Nov. 4 game.

Alfred N. Sanchez, a 1959 Garfield alumnus who is spearheading the campaign to move the game to the Rose Bowl, believes fund-raising efforts were hindered by this summer's World Cup, which had drained the pocketbooks of potential sponsors who had committed to the soccer competition.

Sanchez, however, is already working on plans for a move to the Rose Bowl in 1995, and said Coca-Cola, McDonald's and Bank of America have shown interest in sponsoring the game.

"We would have liked to play at the Rose Bowl this year, but it looks like 1995 will be the year," Sanchez said.

The game typically generates $40,000 to $50,000 in revenue, split equally between the high schools, and serves as the primary fund-raiser for the school's athletic programs. Proceeds from last year's game were also used to outfit Garfield's 220-member band with new uniforms.

"We would be out selling candy to make money if it weren't for this game," Garfield Principal Maria Tostado said.

The homecoming game for Garfield and Roosevelt, which began in 1926, has been played at East L.A. College for the past 22 years. But there are concerns the event has outgrown the 22,000-seat Weingart Stadium.

About 2,000 fans must watch from outside the stadium gates because of lack of seating. An additional several thousand, many with advance tickets, are also turned away each year.

East L.A. charges the high schools about $20,000 to cover the cost of security, electricity and cleanup and the college keeps the profits from concessions. This year's Classic forced an East L.A. men's soccer match to be rescheduled and past contests have created conflict with other college events, a fact that has angered East L.A. Athletic Director Gil Rozadilla.

"It's time to take an interest in how it affects East L.A. College," Rozadilla said. "It's our stadium, and our athletic events should take precedence."

A move to the 100,000-seat Rose Bowl would also alleviate parking and traffic congestion at East L.A. College, which has 500 parking spaces. Plans are also under way to arrange for shuttle buses from the Eastside to Pasadena. Sanchez believes the game could attract 40,000 in the game's first year at the Rose Bowl and as many as 70,000 by 1996.

"The game has grown this big by just word of mouth," Sanchez said. "With some marketing, this could become the biggest Latino event in the country."

*

Willie Brown, a four-time Pro Bowl defensive back with the Oakland Raiders, has been named football coach at Jordan High and will also teach at the school.

Brown, who coached at Long Beach State, worked as a volunteer assistant at Jordan last year. He takes over a program that has won only one game over the past three seasons.

"In college, you know your players will show up because they're on scholarship," Brown said. "I just hope we have enough players show up to play a game. In the inner city, a lot of guys have to work to support their families."

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