Pasadena Files Motions to Dismiss Claims as Alleged by Tournament of Roses

Rose Bowl Stadium. | Photo by Terry Miller / Beacon Media News

On Tuesday, attorneys for the City of Pasadena filed motions in United States District Court to dismiss all claims against the city as alleged in the Pasadena Tournament of Roses’ lawsuit.

In a statement, city officials said the motions “make clear that this case is not—and has never been—about trademark rights.” The city argues that the Tournament’s lawsuit “is about money and the desire of the Tournament to have flexibility to move the Rose Bowl Game out of its long-time home in Pasadena.”

Pasadena alleges that the Master License Agreement between the city and the Tournament prohibits the Tournament from selling its rights to the Rose Bowl Game to the highest bidder, and then moving the Rose Bowl Game out of Pasadena. “The facts of this year’s Rose Bowl Game lay bare the Tournament’s sole pursuit of dollars and nothing more,” the city said in a statement.

The Tournament insists that this litigation “is not about moving the Rose Bowl Game out of Pasadena” in the future but the city feels the legal complaint is evidence of the opposite. “The Tournament wants a court of law to assure it that it can move the Rose Bowl Game. It is an attempt by the Tournament to ask the Court to allow it to redraft the Master License Agreement for future, hypothetical events that might never happen. The fact is, the current agreement between the parties does not allow the Rose Bowl Game to be played anywhere but in Pasadena for any reason, unless the City consents, like it did this year as a good-faith partner during extraordinary times,” the city says.

Furthermore, the city argues that the Tournament’s lawsuit attempts to deny the mayor’s and the city’s First Amendment rights to speak to the press and to constituents on a matter public interest when it claims that the mayor’s comment that, “The football game belongs to the City of Pasadena and the people of Pasadena” is an infringement of a trademark. “It is a baseless and reckless claim to make, seeking to chill the city’s speech on a matter of public interest,” a statement from the city read.

The city claims to want to resolve the dispute amicably, outside of court, but says it will “aggressively defend its rights in this litigation and expects that the Tournament will honor its contractual promise to the city, its residents, and the hundreds of volunteers that make New Year’s Day special in Pasadena that the Rose Bowl Game will be played in the Rose Bowl Stadium where it belongs.”

The City and Tournament have a parade and a game to host on New Year’s Day 2022, which will hopefully symbolize a return to normal.

March 4, 2021

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