SAN DIEGO — What was set to be a historic Holiday Bowl football game at Petco Park has been called off due to a COVID-19 outbreak among players, according to the teams slated to play Tuesday.
The UCLA Bruins said on Twitter just a few hours before kickoff that the team “is unable to participate in tonight’s San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl due to COVID-19 protocols within the Bruins’ program.”
“Heartbroken to not be able to compete one more time this season,” North Carolina State, UCLA’s scheduled opponent, wrote on Twitter. “We were informed a short time ago that our opponent would be unable to play this evening.”
Fox College Football, which was set to broadcast the game, confirmed the news as well.
According to Fox Sports reporter Bruce Feldman, the Bruins were down to just a couple eligible interior defensive lineman and had been prepared to play with a shoestring unit before having more “COVID issues” Tuesday.
The game would have been Petco Park’s first-ever football matchup, and the stadium had been transformed in order to house a gridiron. The stadium will get more chances, though: it has a contract to host five Holiday Bowl games.
“We have been notified by the Holiday Bowl that tonight’s game at Petco Park will not be played due to COVID-19 protocols within UCLA’s football program,” a San Diego Padres spokesperson wrote in an emailed statement.
“We are in communication with the Holiday Bowl and will issue further information regarding the refund process shortly. While we are disappointed that the game will not be played tonight, we look forward to future Holiday Bowls at Petco Park in America’s Finest City.”
Mayor Todd Gloria called the cancellation “extremely disappointed to all involved,” adding that San Diego “was prepared to shine in front of a national audience tonight.”
FOX 5 has reached out to event organizers for information on any potential attempts to reschedule the game or otherwise compensate ticketholders.
The Holiday Bowl is the latest in a series of NCAA football games canceled in the past week due to coronavirus complications. Elsewhere, the NHL has entered a temporary shutdown in hopes of avoiding further spread of the virus among players.
Check back for updates to this developing story.