Nov 10, 2015

WHOA NELLIE: Rose Bowl Legacy Connections Announces Naming of the Keith Jackson Broadcast Center at the Rose Bowl Stadium

PASADENA, Calif. (November 10, 2015) – Rose Bowl Legacy Connections, the non-profit arm of the Rose Bowl Stadium, has announced that the broadcast level inside of the Terry Donahue Pavilion in the Rose Bowl Stadium will be formally dedicated as the KEITH JACKSON BROADCAST CENTER in the Terry Donahue Pavilion in a private ceremony in early December. 

Before retiring in 2006, Jackson broadcast fifteen Rose Bowl games, more than any other broadcaster in the history of the storied game.  His last broadcast was arguably one of his most memorable -- the historic BCS National Championship tilt between USC and Texas, which culminated with Longhorns’ quarterback Vince Young scoring the winning touchdown with less than a minute to go.

“This place is one of the more important places in my entire life and my imagination,” said Jackson. To be part of it for history, myself and the whole family is honored and thrilled.”

A small group of private donors, led by the vision of campaign co-chairs Ron Okum and Coach Harvey Hyde (Pasadena City College 1970-81, UNLV 1982-85, Long Beach State 1990), contributed funds over the past five months to support the naming in Keith’s honor.  Country music superstar Kenny Chesney, who played the first country music concert in the venue’s storied history in July 2015, was one of the contributors to the campaign. In addition, the Tournament of Roses, a long-time partner of the Stadium, who hosts the annual Rose Bowl Game on January 1st, made a key philanthropic contribution to this campaign. 

"Keith Jackson will always be synonymous with big time college football,” said Chesney of the legendary broadcaster.  “He did more than just call the games.  He brought people together in a way nobody else could.  Decades of families and fathers and sons every Saturday afternoon. You knew if Keith was calling the game that it was a big game and he had a way of making you feel the excitement of every play."

With his distinctive voice, Keith covered a variety of sports during his fifty-year career including college football, the NFL, Major League Baseball, the NBA, boxing, auto racing, the PGA Tour, the United States Football League and the Olympic Games.  Keith also covered the 1964 Republican National Convention in San Francisco with Walter Cronkite and became the first American sports announcer to broadcast an event from the Soviet Union in 1958 – a crew race between the Washington Huskies and a Soviet team.

He was credited with nicknaming the Rose Bowl, ‘The Granddaddy of Them All” and Michigan Stadium as “The Big House,” two phrases that are now entrenched in college football lexicon. 


“The Rose Bowl Stadium is truly grateful to be able to honor Keith’s legacy with this naming,” said Rose Bowl General Manager Darryl Dunn.  “As the voice of ultimate authority in college football, we’re proud to share this moment with all of the fans and rightfully add Keith’s legacy to the growing history of the stadium.”

Proceeds from the Keith Jackson Broadcast Center Campaign, under the direction of Rose Bowl Legacy Connections and Executive Director of Development, Dedan Brozino and Rose Bowl Stadium General Manager and CEO, Darryl Dunn, will be used to support the continuing improvements of the historic stadium.

In addition to the visual naming and donor recognitions throughout the Terry Donahue Pavilion, radio and TV announcers will be forever welcome viewers and listeners with, “Broadcasting LIVE from the Keith Jackson Center in the Terry Donahue Pavilion”.   

“The entire Jackson family, we all had our feet off the ground in excitement for at least a week or even a month after hearing this news,” exclaimed Keith once hearing the news.

KJ6.jpgAbout Keith Jackson

Keith Jackson is best known for a long career with ABC Sports and over 50 years of college football coverage, which culminated with his retirement in 2006. In that span, Keith missed only one college season, when he served as the play-by-play announcer during the inaugural season of Monday Night Football in 1952. As the voice of ultimate authority in college football, he is widely credited with nicknaming the Rose Bowl Stadium as “The Granddaddy of Them All.” Jackson did his first college football play-by-play for ABC in 1966 and soon thereafter became known as the nation’s college football voice, enjoying the purity of the sport. Among others, he is most famous for his catchphrase, “Whoa Nellie,” which he borrowed from his great grandfather.

In 1999, the National Football League awarded Jackson the Gold Medal Award, its highest honor and, that same year; he was inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame. A member of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame, he was also the first sportscaster to ever win the American Football Coaches Association’s ‘Amos Alonzo Stagg Award’ as an individual ‘whose services have been outstanding in the advancement of the best interests of football.

Born in Roopville, Georgia, Jackson grew up on a small farm outside Carrollton, near the Alabama state line.  After enlisting and serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, he attended Washington State University in Pullman.  He graduated in 1954 with a degree in speech communications.  He began his career as a broadcaster while at WSU in 1952, when he called a radio game between Stanford and the Cougars.  He then worked for KOMO Radio in Seattle, and later for KOMO-TV as a co-anchor for their news team.  Keith became a radio news correspondent for ABC News Radio and sports director of ABC Radio West in 1964 before joining ABC Sports in 1966.

Jackson is a long-time resident of California. He and his wife, Turi Ann, have three grown children, Melanie, Lindsey & Christopher, and three grandchildren, Ian, Holly & Spencer. He currently resides in the Los Angeles area.

About Rose Bowl Legacy Connections

The Rose Bowl Legacy Connections is a 501(c)3, tax-exempt organization whose primary purpose is to financially ensure the appropriate honoring of a historic past, while building a premier future through making the venue and surrounding areas even more distinguished and iconic as America’s Stadium and a National Historic Landmark. Any gift to the Legacy Connections is tax-deductible minus any benefits actually received.

About the Rose Bowl Stadium

The Rose Bowl Stadium was built in 1922 to host the increasingly popular East-West college bowl game that followed the annual Rose Parade. It was to be a grand venue that would showcase beautiful Pasadena to the entire country, and ultimately, the whole world. And, it has succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.

There are many historic places across the nation, but only a small number have meaning to all Americans, these are our National Historic Landmarks. They are exceptional places forming a common bond between all of us.

The Rose Bowl Stadium represents great American ideas and ideals – that with vision, intent and hard work greatness can be achieved. These ideas and ideals are embodied in the structure, the people and the events that have taken place at the Rose Bowl Stadium through the decades. It is only fitting that we preserve this icon for future generations of Americans.

The Rose Bowl Stadium is in the midst of the largest, most comprehensive improvement project in its 90+ year history. This renovation will provide new revenue sources to fund long-term improvements, improve public safety, and modernize facility operations while maintaining the stadium’s National Historic Landmark status. The goal of the enhancements is to retain the stadium’s storied history while becoming current and improving the stadium and the Arroyo Seco for future generations of athletes, fans and television viewers.

For information on the campaign, visit