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Official Review by Drew Cieszynski, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Without a doubt, San Diego is a great place for a baseball game. With its year-round sunshine and warm temperatures, baseball can be as enjoyable in February as it is in August.
With PETCO Park ranking as one of the MLB’s best and San Diego State naming their stadium after one of baseball’s all-time greats, the Toreros needed a new venue to complete the trifecta of quality ballparks in America’s Finest City.
Prior to the opening of Fowler Park, the Torero baseball team played at John Cunningham Stadium, named for a former coach. Opened in 1970, the stadium was located in the exact same spot as the current ballpark.
Ron and Alexis Fowler provided most of the $13.8 million needed to construct the new ballpark, but the field itself will hold the name of John Cunningham. The largest benefit of the new venue is that although the capacity is 1,700, it is expandable to 3,000. This will allow the school to potentially host college baseball super regional matchups in the future.
The nickname of the University of San Diego is often not familiar to those outside of San Diego. “Torero” is a popular term in Spain, Portugal, and Mexico, commonly used to describe a bullfighter.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
While it did not seem that the new ballpark had an extensive menu, it certainly did have some quality options.
The main concession stand is just behind home plate and has some unique offerings. These include the "BAT" sandwich (includes bacon, avocado, turkey, lettuce, tomato, chipotle ranch, rosemary garlic bun $8), BBQ pulled pork (with slaw on onion roll $8), hilltop salad (includes spring mix, pears, candied walnuts, cranberries, gorgonzola cheese, balsamic dressing $8.50), a grilled chicken Caesar salad ($8.50), hot dog ($4), chili bread bowl ($8), Torero tacos ($4.50 each), chicken tenders ($7), French fries ($4, or $5 if adding garlic), pretzels, peanuts, or popcorn ($4), churro or ice cream ($3), and candy at $2 each.
There is also a stand down each baseline. Near third base is Brat's BBQ which offers bratwursts on pretzel bread ($7) and a hot link with peppers ($7). On the first base side is The Creperie. Here, fans can get sweet Nutella with strawberries and bananas or savory turkey with cheese and tomatoes for $8 each.
Beverages include many soda options for $4 each or hot cocoa for $3.
This is as good as a baseball atmosphere gets. From the moment fans set foot on the McGee Family Entry Deck, another world comes before them. They stare down at a gorgeous baseball diamond with views of the green hiking trails beyond left field and the unique architecture of the school beyond right. San Diego often serves up loads of warmth and sunshine, leaving fans not too cold and not too warm.
Between innings, a clear PA system plays music that is not overwhelming, but appropriate for the event. Every now and then, the announcer will add in some promotions or appropriate movie quotes as the situation warrants.
"Diego Torero" is always kind enough to pose for photos & will entertain the children free of charge. The sound of children's laughter from the Torero deck mixed with the applause of the Torero fans help to create the ultimate baseball setting.
The location of the campus is optimal for all fans. Located near downtown San Diego as well as nearby communities such as La Jolla, there is definitely something for everyone. I encourage any visiting fan to spend some time walking the campus prior to gametime for an opportunity to take in all of the gorgeous architecture.
Some of the more popular locations nearby include La Gran Terraza, Mr. Peabody's Burgers & Ale, Rocking Tunaki, Hunter Steakhouse, Urbane Café, and Tio Leo's Mexican.
The fans at Torero games are very similar to those found at Padre games. They are respectful, even-tempered, and knowledgeable about the team. The blue and navy colors will be scattered throughout the seating area, but nothing of particular note in terms of chants or unique behaviors.
Free parking is difficult to come by in any level of sports these days, but the Toreros remain one program that allows fans to park free of charge. Upon entering campus, all fans are pointed to a clean parking garage with LED lights marking available spaces. Since the stadium is a bit away from the parking garage, a free shuttle was provided that would drop fans off at the front gate. The shuttle ride is probably less than a minute long, so fans should not have to account for it when trying to make first pitch.
There appeared to be a single set of restrooms in the main grandstand, with the men's room offering 11 stations. It was extremely clean and spacious, plenty for the needs of this venue.
There are certainly many entertainment options in San Diego, and Torero baseball may be one of the best investments one can make.
Single game tickets go for the very reasonable price of $10 for adults and $5 for youth. Season ticket options are also available for $250.
While the food items do carry a higher price, the quality seems to warrant it. With parking being free of charge, the entire experience can easily cost less than $20 per person.
Basking in the warm San Diego weather, experiencing a great program, and a beautiful new venue for an extremely reasonable price makes for a perfect score!
The most impressive part of the ballpark is the McGee Family Entry Deck. As fans step into the ballpark, they are greeted by a breathtaking view of the playing field. This viewing deck is situated well above the seating area and even the concessions, allowing fans to take it all in. Look closely just inside the gates and spot an interesting baseball design in the concrete.
At the main entrance, fans view plaques dedicated to Ron Fowler and John Cunningham. There is extensive commentary on the two men who were very influential to the success of the University of San Diego baseball program.
The Torero Deck can be found on the third base side above the home clubhouse. This has a miniature baseball diamond made from artificial grass. Many of the younger fans were having a blast playing on this field before and during the game.
As fans pull onto the campus grounds, the first thing that they will notice is the 16th century Spanish Renaissance architecture reflected on many of the buildings. Fans can spot one of these buildings beyond the right field fence.
Similar to the Padres, the Toreros honor the local military influence by wearing camouflage Torero-Blue jerseys during Sunday home games.
The Toreros definitely hit a home run with their new ballpark. Not only have they provided local fans with a phenomenal new venue to catch baseball games, the University has now given itself opportunities to host playoff games and showcase itself more and more. There is nothing but upside for this already reputable Southern California program.
Follow Drew's journeys through Southern California on twitter @Big10Drew.
Member Review by ryannorris on Feb 24, 2013
I really enjoyed my experience at Fowler Park, the new home of the USD Toreros. It's a beautiful new stadium that provides for an excellent afternoon.
We didn't eat but the options looked excellent for college baseball. We did end up getting the refillable $6 soda cup. It was a souvenir hard plastic cup w/lid and straw honoring the opening of Fowler Park.
Atmosphere was excellent for baseball. Unfortunately the main entrance at the McGee Family Entry Deck had scaffolding surrounding it as they may have been doing some work on it. It seems they may have rushed construction for opening weekend but are now putting the finishing touches on it.
This early in the season (February) be sure to bring long-sleeves as the shadows creep onto the stands early in the game and it can get a bit breezy.
If you get cold, I'd recommend standing up on the concourse. The sun shines there throughout the afternoon games and has a great view of the field.
Nothing to write home about regarding restaurants in the area, but there is a strip mall at the bottom of the hill. I'd recommend eating beforehand but get to campus early to check out the sweeping views and awesome architecture.
Yes, there is a shuttle bus from the parking lot but it is certainly walkable too. I'd recommend the shuttle if you have trouble getting around or if you're unsure about where you're going.
There were plenty of parking spots even with the dual event (women's basketball) at Jenny Craig Pavilion on this particular Saturday afternoon. There were lights above each spot that were either lit red or green depending on if the spot was available.
At $10 it's a great investment, particularly before Padres games begin. Keep in mind USD has been one of the better teams from the WCC the last decade or so.
Member Review by cmfleming4267 on Oct 05, 2014
I would say it's one of the nicest college stadiums around. The atmosphere is always good for baseball which is a very popular fan sport in college. Has a little park and baseball field for kids. Very clean and well maintained. Your also in a valley so there are many good views around you of mountains.
5998 Alcala Park
San Diego, CA 92110
6110 Friars Road
San Diego, CA 92108
6110 Friars Road
San Diego, CA 92108
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