Call it gimmick, call it whatever you would like, but when you’re San Diego State and you’re San Diego, and you’re trying to earn some pub in the early part of your season, this is how you do it.
After all, we’re publishing it here and now, on a national sports site, as the darkest part of the college hoops season begins in earnest.
According to Mark Zeigler of the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Aztecs and Toreros will play a game next season, in December, at San Diego’s Petco Park. Yes, where the Padres play. They will, of course, be out of season by then.
Zeigler cites multiple sources and says a formal announcement from both schools is coming later this spring. It’s a one-year agreement, which is welcomed news for fans that wanted to see the teams continue to play each other, because there was the possibility this series was going to take siesta for a while if not for this game.
This marks the second time in four seasons San Diego State has balled outdoors. The Aztecs and Syracuse Orange played on the USS Midway aircraft carrier to start the 2012-13 season.
The Petco game is the brainchild of SDSU athletic director Jim Sterk, who figured if basketball could be played on a flight deck, why not on a warning track? The carrier games, plagued by slick courts and windblown free throws, have sunk after debuting here in 2011 on the USS Carl Vinson with President Obama courtside. The next frontier: ballparks.
The original idea was to attract a high-profile program, like the Battle on the Midway did with Syracuse, to face the Aztecs in a nationally-televised game. 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.
Makes sense then, I suppose.
The series between the Toreros and Aztecs is creeping in 20 years, which is impressive given the way so many other schools who share local boundaries but not conference affiliations have let their rivalries shrivel. SDSU has won the past nine games between the teams.
San Diego State is not ranked in our Ridiculously Early Top 25 (and one), but I should note they’re basically considered 27th or 28th by us. And it’s possible they’ll be a ranked team in the AP poll come preseason.
“The Petco court will be nestled into left field, partially protected from the wind by the Western Metal Supply building,” per the Union-Tribune’s story.
This could be pretty cool — but hopefully it won’t be cold. Hey, it’s San Diego. It shouldn’t be. Only threat here is dodging rain, which is also something of a cataclysmic event down there.