With wind and condensation proving to be major issues, that trend of playing early-season games on aircraft carriers fell by the wayside a couple years ago. However the idea of playing a game outdoors remains an option for some, especially schools located in areas where weather tends to not be a serious issue during the late fall/early winter.
San Diego is one such place. And according to a report from Mark Zeigler of the San Diego Union-Tribune, the city’s two Division I programs plan to play their annual game outdoors in early December this upcoming season. Per the report, San Diego and San Diego State have come to an agreement to play their game at Petco Park, which is called home by the San Diego Padres.
While San Diego State’s had no serious issues with home attendance thanks to the incredible rebuilding job done by Steve Fisher, that hasn’t been the case for USD and that includes games in which they host the Aztecs. Maybe a change in venue for a season can boost attendance for the game, with SDSU fans who may not be able to get into Viejas Arena having a better chance of seeing their team in person and that would be the case for others as well.
According to Zeigler’s report playing a game at Petco was the idea of SDSU athletic director Jim Sterk, with the Aztecs looking to reel in a high-profile opponent.
But Ron Fowler chairs the Padres’ ownership group and also is USD’s most prominent athletic booster, and apparently he agreed to let the Aztecs to play in his ballpark under one condition: that it’s against the Toreros.
The teams have played annually since 1998, but a four-year contract expired after this season and there were growing murmurs that it wouldn’t be renewed, particularly in alternating home arenas. The programs have gone in opposite directions – the Aztecs to the Top 25, the Toreros to seven straight losing seasons against Division I competition – and the yawning disparity in fortunes created a nothing-to-win prospect for the Aztecs, who have won nine straight in the series.
According to the story the court would be set up in a fashion similar to the configuration for Davis Cup tennis matches held at Petco last year, with the court being situated in the left field corner. While this change could give the series between SDSU and USD a boost, the bigger key moving forward is that the Toreros turn things around in the WCC.
San Diego introduced a new head coach earlier this month in former New Mexico assistant Lamont Smith, and the hope is that the USD alumnus can provide the program with a spark it really needs. While moving the game against SDSU outdoors for a season keeps it on the schedule, what Smith is able to do with the program will impact whether or not these two teams play beyond the 2015-16 season.