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Official Review by Jason Bartel, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Since 2013, one of the top baseball programs in the West Coast Conference, the San Diego Toreros, have called Fowler Park and Cunningham Field their home. Located on the hilly USD campus, the stadium was designed to take advantages of the local topography, filling in a cliff with a state-of-the-art baseball facility.
The Toreros have found recent success in college baseball, qualifying for the NCAA Tournament in about half of their seasons since 2002. Moving into Fowler Park was a big step for the program, adding in a brand new clubhouse, training area, and batting cages, all right there next to the playing field. It also adds to the overall architecture found on the USD campus, with their Spanish mission-style buildings, and a dorm located beyond right field that adds into that.
In the San Diego sports scene, Fowler Park probably goes under the radar compared to, say, San Diego State’s facilities. But it should not go overlooked with what it offers baseball fans of all ages.
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".
With Fowler Park's homey feel, there is just one concession stand location that's needed, and it is behind home plate along the main concourse. It has a ton of options to offer fans though.
Of course you'll be able to find your typical ballpark fare of hot dogs, hamburgers, popcorn, pretzels and sodas (Coca-Cola products). All of these run anywhere from $3-$6. For these, you can combo them with a side of fries for an extra dollar.
The BAT sandwich, which includes bacon, avocado, tomato, and lettuce is probably the signature item of the ballpark. You can get that for $8. For the same price, you could go for the pulled pork sandwich, which also has slaw.
When in San Diego, one might feel the need to get some fish tacos ($9 for two). Or since this is California, there are a couple of salad options available for fans as well.
You really can't go wrong with any of the options available, and it's such a diverse selection for a college ballpark that only has one concession stand.
Fowler Park, just like the rest of the University of San Diego campus, is an artistic masterpiece when it comes to the architecture. The ballpark is built into the side of a cliff, giving fans a perspective they can't get at many other college ballparks. And on clear days, you'll be able to peer out over the hills into Mission Bay.
All fans enter from above the stadium, right next to the basketball arena, Jenny Craig Pavilion. There's a standing area when you walk in, where you can get a bird's eye view of the action below. Stairs and elevators lead down to the main concourse and suites, where all the seating is located.
USD's dugout and clubhouse are located down the third base line, with the visitors calling the first base dugout home. Right above the clubhouse is a mini field where kids can go play a game of kickball or something during the game.
The seating area is very comfortable. Each seat has its own cup holder and ton of leg room. USD has protective netting in front of all the seats, which feels like it gets in the way of the view a little bit. There are a couple of suites available as well, which have box seats plus a lounge area in each one.
One scoreboard looms beyond the left field wall. It can show live action and replays, along with stats and other things that you would expect at a baseball game. The PA system is perfect, not too loud, and not too quiet at any location in the ballpark. And then the final touch is having posters of famous alums Kris Bryant and Brian Matusz pinned up on the face of the cliff behind home plate.
The biggest thing the University of San Diego has going for it is its proximity to the ocean. Mission Bay and Fiesta Island are about a mile away, which also means that SeaWorld San Diego is the closest attraction to the campus. USD actually uses Mission Bay as the training area for their rowing teams, and lists Mission Bay as a university facility on its website.
There aren't a ton of local establishments to grab a bite to eat in the area. Tio Leo's Mexican is probably one of the more popular places in the immediate area, and offers some happy hour specials you can take advantage of before a night game at Fowler Park.
Not too far away is Old Town San Diego, which offers a ton of options in the form of restaurants, shops, a theater, hotels, and events throughout the year. Old Town is a great place to visit and spend some time walking around, taking in some of the San Diego history.
As far as places to stay, USD is fairly close to San Diego's Hotel Circle. This offers just about every major hotel chain, and is in a very convenient location, as it surrounds I-8 right in the center of San Diego, allowing access to just about everything you would want to see in the area.
For a program that has seen consistent success and a relatively new park, the attendance leaves a little bit to be desired. The Toreros draw well for postseason and rivalry games, but other than that, there aren't a ton of people at the games.
The ones that are there also stay pretty quiet during games. There aren't a lot of cheers or anything going on to get the team hyped.
The University of San Diego is located just north of I-8, and just east of I-5. With two major highways feeding into the area, getting to Torero games is fairly easy and straightforward.
When you do get to USD, there is a free parking garage located just down the street from the ballpark. The garage has an entrance right when you enter the USD campus at Acala Park, or you can enter it down near the football stadium on Torero Way. Exiting the garage is definitely easier going up to the top, and having it feed you right out of campus. It is a hilly walk from the garage to the stadium, so if you have issues with that, you might want to try and park in the small lot across the street from Fowler Park's main entrance.
All fans enter the stadium at the very top of it. You can either stay here and watch like you would from a balcony at a theater, or take the stairs and elevators down to the main concourse. Clear signs point you in the direction you should go to get to your desired location.
The walking areas throughout Fowler Park are very spacious, and lines for the bathrooms and concession stands don't really impede a person's ability to get from the first base side to the third base side. The concourse also has plenty of handicapped seating all around the park.
With ticket prices between five and ten dollars, free parking, and reasonable concession prices, Torero games are certainly worth the monetary cost. The stadium is fantastic. The views are impeccable. And the baseball is usually pretty good too. USD is worth a trip during college baseball season, especially if you're going to be in San Diego during the spring anyway. Spend the day at the ocean, and spend the evening in the hills. Perfection.
The standing areas all around allow for unique perspectives you may not be able to experience at most other ballparks. The first base line has a meandering pathway where you can stand and watch the game. The third base line has a mini-diamond for kids to play games on.
USD's campus is the other extra here. Fowler Park fits right into the mission-style architecture and views found throughout. I definitely recommend getting to campus well before the game and taking a stroll around just to see all the different buildings, plus the views of the surrounding areas and the bay. USD is a beautiful place, but with it nestled away just off the freeways, it may go overlooked by some. Be sure to change that and experience it once for yourself.
Member Review by DrewCieszynski on Feb 18, 2013
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.
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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