Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live


At long last, Petco Park will host the Holiday Bowl

After two years, the Holiday Bowl is back and some would say better than ever. KPBS reporter Kitty Alvarado shows us the where the long awaited college football showdown between Oregon and North Carolina will take place, and it took a big transformation.

Petco Park is ready for some football. On Wednesday, the Oregon Ducks and North Carolina Tar Heels will be the first football teams to play in San Diego’s baseball stadium when they face off in the Holiday Bowl.

It will be the first time since 2019 that a Holiday Bowl game has been played. It was canceled due to COVID-19 in 2020 and was supposed to be played between UCLA and North Carolina State last year. But UCLA backed out on the day of the game after the team suffered a COVID-19 outbreak.

For Holiday Bowl CEO Mark Neville, this year’s game couldn’t come soon enough. The San Diego Bowl Game Association, the nonprofit that has put on the Holiday Bowl for more than 40 years, has struggled mightily.


“For those last two years that we didn’t play, we lost over $3 million, and as a nonprofit that bites,” Neville said. “We want to be a huge contributor to the San Diego economy (and) we have done that for 43 years. Over $1 billion in economic impact in that time — and hey, we’re back.”

But getting fans to San Diego hasn’t been easy. At a news conference Tuesday morning, Oregon Coach Dan Lanning talked about how the nationwide flight cancellations in recent days impacted his team’s fanbase.

“I know a lot of people struggled to get here today,” Lanning said. “My parents included — I think they’re driving from Kansas City. Some of these flights have been jacked up.”

Both coaches said their teams have enjoyed touring San Diego. North Carolina coach Mack Brown talked about meaningful moments his team had on the USS Abraham Lincoln.

“You get on the ship and see that the Holiday Bowl honors the Marines and the Navy,” Brown said. “And we start thinking about being away from our families for a bowl game on Christmas — these folks are trying to keep our families safe year round.”


Neville said the Holiday Bowl is under contract to be played at Petco Park for several more years.