First published in the Dec. 16 print issue of the Pasadena Outlook.
The Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation recently announced two major pledges to establish the California High School Football Hall of Fame.
The Hall of Fame will be located at the Rose Bowl Stadium with plans to open in late 2022. The opening will include the induction of the inaugural class during the venue’s centennial year.
It has been funded by lead foundational gifts from prominent philanthropists and business leaders in the Los Angeles area, including Brian Panish and Mickey Segal.
The Legacy project will be planned and founded to honor the history, quality and overall impact of players, coaches and integral moments that have shaped the landscape of high school football in the state.
Panish and Segal, who have regularly supported Legacy’s efforts to preserve, protect and enhance the Rose Bowl Stadium’s future over the years, both consider their time on the gridiron as value-shaping experiences that have crafted very successful careers.
Panish, a former football student-athlete at St. John Bosco in Bellflower and Fresno State, has been involved in football his entire life. Bosco’s football stadium in Bellflower bears the Panish family’s name. Panish is an advisory board member for the Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation as part of a volunteer philanthropist group continuing to preserve, protect and enhance the future of the venue. His competitive passion under the helmet has led to his leadership as the founding partner at Panish, Shea & Boyle LLP, where he has become a national leader in his own right by obtaining some of the most significant jury verdicts and settlements in U.S. history on behalf of plaintiffs.
Segal is a former football student-athlete at local Pasadena High School and played under legendary coach Tom Hamilton for which tunnel 4 at the Rose Bowl is named. The PHS Bulldogs compete annually on the hallowed Rose Bowl turf as part of the Turkey Tussle against rivals John Muir High School, the alma mater of the great Jackie Robinson. Segal is currently the president of the Legacy Foundation’s Board of Directors and is the chair of its ongoing fundraising campaign in honor of the venue’s centennial. He has been involved with the foundation since its inception in 2010 and has heavily committed to the Stadium’s heritage, including with a 2017 major gift to renovate and open one of the Rose Bowl’s original locker rooms as a museum and supporting the venue’s new videoboard that was erected in 2020. Segal is a founder and managing partner of NKSFB, building a firm that started in 1981 into the largest business management firm in the United States.
“This project will appropriately recognize the players, coaches, administrators, and so many contributors that have positively shaped the lives of so many on the football field during the formative high school years,” Panish and Segal said in a joint statement about the project. “Understanding the Rose Bowl Stadium’s rich history and experience with generational moments rooted in football, there is no better place in the State of California to house the high school football hall of fame.”
With the California Interscholastic Federation and National Football Foundation playing a role, along with Cal-Hi Sports in conjunction with the Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation, a selection committee has been formed representing the entire state to begin consideration of the inaugural class. The class will be inducted during the Rose Bowl Stadium’s centennial year in late 2022 upon completion of the project space.
“The National Football Foundation is honored to play a role with the California High School Football Hall of Fame,” said NFF President/CEO Steve Hatchell. “California has such a rich history of high school football, and the Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation and the Rose Bowl Stadium are the perfect stewards to showcase the state’s gridiron greats.”
“The CIF is privileged to participate in the selection process for the California High School Football Hall of Fame,” said Ron Nocetti, CIF executive director. “We thank the Rose Bowl Stadium, the Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation and the National Football Foundation for honoring the long and storied history of high school football in California and look forward to the induction of its inaugural class.”
The project will be designed by Forty Nine Degrees, who has a successful history highlighting experiential elements at the iconic Rose Bowl Stadium. They have overseen key design and interactive elements for some of the venue’s most popular heritage projects to date, including the 1922 Locker Room Museum, the Legacy Foundation offices, historical statues, inside of the Terry Donahue Pavilion, and around the Stadium’s public concourse areas. Forty Nine Degrees is an industry leader for creating shareable experiences, often amplifying elements for some of the nation’s most prominent intercollegiate athletic programs.
“We are excited to create another engaging, shareable experience at the Rose Bowl Stadium. To have the opportunity to profile California’s rich high school football history in perhaps the most storied venue in all of sports, is a creative teams’ dream,” said Michael McClurg, president of Forty Nine Degrees.
A formal California High School Football Hall of Fame website is in development and will allow the public to nominate players and coaches for consideration. The website is expected to be ready for public viewing by the end of the year.
The generous gifts by Panish and Segal continue momentum in the Legacy Foundation’s centennial campaign efforts to raise $40 million in support of the stadium’s future by the end of its centennial birthday. The campaign is more than 80% complete with a growing national donor base.
“The ongoing generosity of Brian and Mickey to this project is humbling, thoughtful, and will provide a transformational result to recognize the great history of high school football in the state of California. We are incredibly grateful,” said Dedan Brozino, chief development officer. “The Rose Bowl is the most appropriate home for this Hall of Fame and we are looking forward to delivering an exciting project in the midst of the venue’s centennial and for years to come.”