SAN DIEGO — You’re not seeing things — that’s a football field inside Petco Park, a transformation that was nearly complete Wednesday ahead of the Holiday Bowl.
America’s finest baseball stadium is temporarily home to a gridiron for the NCAA bowl game between North Carolina State and UCLA on Dec. 28. It marks a milestone for the iconic ballpark, which has been home to a variety of concerts and other outdoor events but never played host to a football game in its 17-year history.
Paint was still drying on the field and in the end zones Wednesday when FOX 5 got a chance to walk around the park and soar overhead with a drone for a preview of what’s to come.
The project took $1 million of enhancements and modifications to offer 50,000 fans a unique college football viewing experience. That included the following major changes, as laid out on the San Diego Padres’ official blog:
- The wall that runs along the first-base foul line has been temporarily removed to make room for the east end zone;
- In left field, the bullpen door and stairs have been removed to make room for the west end zone;
- Goal posts and play clocks have been added to the field; and
- Rows of field-level suites for groups of 10-20 people were built on risers along the north sideline (what would typically be right and right-center field).
As the team is quick to emphasize for Padres purists, all the changes are “transitional” — that means the park dimensions will be restored to their normal configuration when it’s time for baseball season. The changes are modular, though, so they’ll be easier to put back in place for the 2022 bowl game. Petco Park has a contract to host at least the next five.
Holiday Bowl tickets still available online start at $90 and range all the way to $3,000 for the on-field suites.
Visitors to the ballpark will want to arrive early for a pregame military tribute featuring the U.S. Navy Leapfrogs parachute team and a flyover. Spectators should bring a mask for entering any indoor areas of the stadium.
Want to check out Petco Park’s first-of-its-kind makeover from home? You’re in luck: The game airs on FOX 5. Tune in on Tuesday, Dec. 28 at 5 p.m.