Game day is upon us. On Sunday, the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots will compete for the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Vince Lombardi (pictured left in this 1967 photo from the Los Angeles Public Library) was the legendary coach for the Green Bay Packers. In that very first Super Bowl played in Los Angeles, the Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs 35 to 10. When the NFL began to award the game’s most valuable player in 1990, the organization named it the Pete Rozelle Trophy, for the LA native who inaugurated the Super Bowl in 1967. Before he became NFL Commissioner, Rozelle rose through the ranks of the Los Angeles Rams. In his book Play by Play: Los Angeles Sports Photography, 1889-1989, From the Photography Collection of the Los Angeles Public Library, David Davis explained how the battle between the NFC and the AFC came to be known as the Super Bowl:
When the Rams came to Los Angeles in 1947, they called the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum home. The Coliseum officially opened in 1923, “years before the Olympics, and went on to host an incredible array of major sports and other newsworthy events,” wrote Stephen Gee, author of Iconic Vision: John Parkinson, Architect of Los Angeles. In his biography about the prominent Los Angeles architect, Gee detailed the development of Exposition Park (then Agricultural Park) and the role Parkinson played in designing the Coliseum.Parkinson was selected as the architect for the Coliseum due to his close relationship with William Bowen, known as the “Father of Exposition Park.” Bowen and Parkinson knew each other from their younger days in Napa, California. The pair even competed against each other in a Napa Debating Society. As Parkinson later recalled, “We had many talks about [the park’s] development, and it was through Bowen that I later served as architect for the Coliseum."
When John Parkinson eagerly sat in the stands on that 1932 day of the Olympic Opening Ceremonies, he was one of 101,022 fans packed in the Coliseum, a far cry from that first Super Bowl in Los Angeles. In fact, the 1967 Super Bowl continues to hold the record for lowest attendance at a Super Bowl game (61,946 attendees). While the Coliseum may never host another Super Bowl, this Parkinson-designed landmark “stands as a legacy to those long ago who propelled Los Angeles to become one of the most famous and most visited cities in the world,” wrote Stephen Gee.