Answered By: Shauna Redmond
Last Updated: Sep 18, 2015     Views: 12726

According to an article published in the Pasadena Union in 1971, businessman W.L. Leishman, who supported architect Myron Hunt in his dream for a stadium in the Arroyo Seco,  was from New Haven, CT and had fond memories of the Yale Bowl, and therefore wanted the word "Bowl" associated with the stadium. The article adds that Leishman's son, Lathrop "Lay" Leishman, recalled a local newspaperman, Harlan "Dusty" Hall, suggesting they plant a few roses around the stadium and call it the Rose Bowl.


Myron Hunt, the architect who dreamed of building a stadium in the Arroyo Seco (on a site then serving as the town "dump"), studied many stadiums and arenas--from ancient Greek and Roman structures to the (then contemporary) Yale Bowl. He used ideas and elements from his studies and made innovative changes, resulting in a design Hunt called "more or less revolutionary." Hunt, Leishman, and William Taylor, a contractor, were the three main minds behind the planning and building of the Rose Bowl. All three men were members of the Tournament of Roses, and an alternative explanation for the stadium’s name may come from the fact that was the site of Tournament games, therefore the "Tournament of Roses Bowl" became the "Rose Bowl."



"'That dump!?' How The Bowl came about," Pasadena Union, 9/1/71.

"The Rose Bowl." Myron Hunt, 1868-1952: The Search for a Regional Architect, 3 October-9 December 1984. Santa Monica, CA: Hennessey & Ingalls, 1984.

Comments (3)

  1. This answer is incorrect and is being used by the Tournament people. WL Leishman was not an architect but owned the local lumber company and Myron Hunt is the only architect of the Rose Bowl. He did not design a copy of the Yale Bowl, but created a unique form for the Rose Bowl see:
    Myron Hunt, 1868-1952: The Search for a Regional Architecture: 3 October-9 December 1984. 1984, Baxter Art Gallery, California Institute of Technology. page 59.
    by Jan Muntz, Architect LEED AP on Jan 13, 2014
  2. Thank you for the comment, Ms. Muntz! We appreciate your information and pointing out the source. We have updated this answer to reflect the information about the building and naming of the Rose Bowl. Thank you for visiting Ask Us!
    by Shauna Redmond on Jan 24, 2014
  3. Hi I question the historical accuracy of the land being a “dump”. I stumbled upon hundreds of tax records of the property as paid for by the Dontanville family (Wallace, Leo, Henry, and Bertha and children?). The taxes are for some of that area and the adjacent property that was kept by the Dontanville family after the initial Rose Bowl was built (and yes, named for the Tournament). The story of the area being a “dump” sounds like a fabrication made to condemn the land so the city could acquire it from the family for parking. “In 1920 the Tournament of Roses Association began construction of the Rose Bowl in Arroyo Seco, on land northwest of the Dontanville property. When the stadium was completed, it was deeded to the city of Pasadena. On January 1, 1923, the Tournament held its first football game there. It soon became obvious that the original 57,000-seat horseshoe stadium open on the south end, would outgrow its original space. The City of Pasadena approached Wallace with the intent to acquire all of the Dontenville property to provide additional parking and expand Brookside Park. Wallace advised that he was willing to sell some, but not all of his property. The City filed condemnation and Wallace retained Joseph Scott, a distinguished Los Angeles attorney and civil leader, to represent him in the proceedings. In February 1924 the court ruled that Wallace should be allowed to retain his home and two acres of surrounding land. The remainder of the property was awarded to the City of Pasadena for $111,400. In 1928 the south end of the stadium was constructed, increasing the capacity to 76,000, and the parking was expanded into the property acquired from Wallace.” See: I currently have all the tax receipts from this family from 1926-1954 as found in a galvanized container bought at a Value Village in Bellingham, WA, today on 7/26/2022. I can share them in photos with anyone who wishes to see more for archival info. When I discovered the tax receipts in the can (which I was buying for my new chicken coop with no knowledge of what was inside!), I immediately ensured their archival state and began to research the family (I am a professionally trained historian, MA History). I have hundreds of their receipts and lists of property owned in this area as “cleared” and with taxes paid in full - and now I know why the family kept them!! Wish I knew the rest of the story. :)
    by AmyLynn Schexnayder on Jul 26, 2022