SAN DIEGO — The presence of San Diego State in Thursday’s Poinsettia Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium will likely be a mixed blessing.
Organizers are expecting a crowd of around 40,000, a level that game has reached only once in its eight-year history. A crowd announced at 48,049 for the 2010 game saw the Aztecs defeat Navy, 35-14, in San Diego State’s only other appearance in the game.
However, fewer hotel rooms will be rented than usual because there is only one out-of-town team — and its fans — coming to San Diego.
The Metropolitan Transit System said it will begin running extra Green Line trolleys between downtown San Diego and SDSU beginning at 12:45 p.m., and frequent service will continue as needed after the game.
Parking lots at trolley stations are likely to fill up by 3:30 p.m., according to the MTS.
The North County Transit District will run a special northbound train scheduled to depart the Old Town Transit Center 75 minutes after the game ends.
The Poinsettia Bowl was originally conceived of as a way to bring fans of out-of-town schools to San Diego in the week before Christmas, which is the slowest for the local tourism industry, according to Bruce Binkowski, executive director of the San Diego Bowl Association, which operates the Poinsettia and Holiday bowls.
Binkowski said he’s “sensitive” to hoteliers who are looking to fill rooms.
“It’s very difficult to pass on a local team that’s won nine games,” Binkowski said.
When the Poinsettia Bowl was being formulated, one of its aspects was to have a team from San Diego State’s conference, the Mountain West Conference, so it would have the opportunity to showcase the Aztecs every so often.
“We don’t want SDSU every year, but we want them every few years,” Binkowski said. “In a perfect world, it would be, like, every three years.”
Conference realignments create a lot of uncertainties for bowl organizers, Binkowski said, including when San Diego State would make its next Poinsettia Bowl appearance.
“There’s a whole lot I don’t know right now,” Binkowski said.
San Diego State announced last December that it would move to the Big East Conference for football only beginning with the 2013 season.