New ballpark, new season: Grand opening of Fowler Park brings a packed house
By Hannah Bucklin
ASSISTANT NEWS EDITOR and
Baseball was only one component of Friday night’s season opener at USD. The newly finished Fowler Park, a $13.8 million ballpark, opened to a sold out audience who were not only there to watch the game but also to marvel at the new stadium.
The grand opening of Fowler Park had it all, including free apparel, free food and coverage by Fox Sports and ESPN.
The sold out stands were filled with colorful signs and cheering students. The new stadium brought out USD’s school spirit and excitement within the audience.
“The new stadium is a great addition for USD athletics as it will bring more students to games,” sophomore Cameron Willig said.
USD students, parents, children, faculty and pro scouts were present as the Toreros took on their cross-town rivals, the San Diego State University Aztecs. To start off the night’s game, the Choral Scholars sang the national anthem. Following the performance, Ron and Alexis Fowler, the main benefactors of the park, gave a speech. They said that they were honored to be able to contribute to USD athletics. As the executive chairman of the San Diego Padres, Ron Fowler has been involved with San Diego sports for the past four decades.
He donated most of the $13.8 million for the construction of Fowler Park. Being the chairman of USD’s board of trustees and with a daughter who graduated from USD, he has close ties with the university.
Built in a little over nine months, the stadium is far different from Cunningham Stadium, the old baseball field that Fowler Park replaced. One of the most obvious additions is the lights. Cunningham Stadium did not have lights, which limited games to the day time. Now with the installation of stadium lights, the team can have night games. The new stadium also boasts a capacity that can reach 3,000 fans, a clubhouse and a mini baseball field called the “Torero Deck.”
This new deck offers children the chance to play their own game of baseball and is part of the standing section. The standing section is composed of food booths and room for students to watch the game.
Torero Program Board hosted a tailgate on the Torero Deck to help show off the stadium and get students excited about the game.
Sophomore Allison Heinrich was one of the students who piled in to get a free t-shirt and get in on the action.
“I’m excited to go to the game to see the new stadium and just the whole atmosphere since it feels more like a professional stadium now,” Heinrich said. “I think the new stadium will attract more people to the games because it makes it more fun to go.”
Sophomore Graylen McGinley was also very impressed with the new stadium.
“I am so excited to watch a game in the new stadium. I love baseball to begin with, and I think the new stadium is gorgeous. They did such a nice job,” McGinley said.
Just as the fans of the Toreros enjoyed the new stadium, the players also seemed enthusiastic with Fowler Park. This was their first time as collegiate athletes to play under the lights to a sold out audience in a professional stadium.
Sophomore Andrew Daniel, the middle infielder for the Toreros, thinks Fowler Park will help increase the attendance at baseball games.
“I really hope that the new stadium will increase school spirit because playing in front of our peers is fun,” Daniel said. “Hopefully it will give our school something to be proud about. Also, I think we might get more support due to the night games we will have, since our old field did not have lights.”
With the new lights the team hopes to attract more viewers and utilize the extra practice time. “Our team is going to continue to work harder and get better as the season progresses,” Daniel said. “So come out to beautiful Fowler Park and have fun watching your Torero baseball team.”