San Diego to Face Crosstown Rival San Diego State in Petco Park


This past season was the final year of a four year contract between the San Diego Toreros and the San Diego State Aztecs to play an annual rivalry game in basketball at alternating home arenas. With the gap between the two programs widening as the Toreros struggle and the Aztecs become one of the premier programs on the West Coast, it was widely believed that the end of that contract might be the end of the annual rivalry game.

Now it appears we will enjoy at least one more City Championship as the schools have agreed to play a game in the 2015-16 at a very unique location. The UT-San Diego is reporting that the two teams will play in Petco Park, the outdoor baseball stadium in downtown San Diego that is home to Major League Baseball’s San Diego Padres.

San Diego State Athletic Director Jim Sterk is credited as putting a game in Petco Park together. He was instrumental in making the Battle on the Midway happen, the game in 2011 that featured teams playing on the deck of an aircraft carrier in San Diego. The UT-San Diego article states that the original intention was to get another high-profile team to face SDSU in the game, but Padres Chairman Ron Fowler stepped in and insisted that the Aztecs must play the Toreros for the game to happen. Fowler has long been a champion of college athletics in the city, and he is a notable USD Athletics booster. Fowler Park, the state of the art baseball stadium on the USD campus, was funded by Fowler and named after him.

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This will be an exciting game for the city and first year USD Head Coach Lamont Smith. Despite a lack of success compared to the Aztecs, the Toreros have been able to get up for this rivalry game and challenge the Aztecs at times in recent years. Two seasons ago when the game was held in the Jenny Craig Pavilion, the Toreros had a chance to win it at the buzzer and ended dropping a 65-64 heartbreaker.

It should also bring some attention to the West Coast Conference, which is always helpful. This is especially true when it’s about a team outside of the big names that doesn’t get much national coverage. A win over a very good team in a major game like this would be a huge boost for the rebuilding Toreros.

The game is expected to take place in December, later in the non-conference schedule. This has been the normal time period for this rivalry game in recent years.