The venerable Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum may have hosted two Olympic Games, but for the fans who filled it Friday night for the annual football rivalry between the Eastside's Garfield and Roosevelt highs, this was bigger.
"Hey, I've never been to the Coliseum before," said Garfield grad Roberto Munoz of Alhambra as he scanned the 20,000 fans. "Now that we're here, I'd say the Coliseum has finally arrived."
The feeling was much the same on the Roosevelt side of the 92,000-seat stadium.
"I think this game deserves the Coliseum," said Roosevelt fan Hugo Montana of Los Angeles, "and the Coliseum deserves us."
Friday night's contest for Eastside supremacy was moved to the Coliseum after officials from both schools had trouble finding a date for the game at East Los Angeles College's Weingart Stadium, where the game has been played since 1952.
But the game also had begun to outgrow the 22,000-seat Weingart Stadium.
When an attempt was made to move the game several years ago to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, locals from both schools demanded that the game stay on the Eastside.
But Friday night, the sentiment seemed in favor of staging future games at the Coliseum.
"Think of all the players from both schools who haven't played here," said Garfield alum Rick Rios. "This is a great stadium."
Victor Valencia, who played in the first Garfield-Roosevelt game in 1926, said he had "never been here before, but it's a good idea."
But 17-year-old Rafael Zuezada from Roosevelt high was among the dissenters.
"You don't mess with tradition," he said.
Despite the change in venue, many of the game's traditions remained the same. Fans were required to sit on their school's side of the stadium to prevent confrontations. And whenever the Roosevelt band played, the Garfield side booed. When Garfield's Bulldog cheerleaders broke into the now-familiar chant from the song "Who Let the Dogs Out," the Roosevelt side booed.
The grudge match, in its new environs, had been eagerly awaited, even by those who couldn't be there.
Former Roosevelt history teacher Howard Shorr, who left seven years ago to teach in Portland, Ore., followed newspaper stories about it via the Internet.
"It's a cultural happening, and it was a great venue to see my former students," Shorr said. "I have always rooted for Roosevelt since the 1970s. Roosevelt High School will always be in my heart, regardless of where I am."
By the end of the third quarter, his Roughriders were winning 34-0.
"What," Shorr said, "did you expect?"
THE OUTCOME: Story on the game. D1