Fowler Park debuts to rave reviews
The lights are on and somebody’s home. For the first time in USD’s history, the school’s ballpark is illuminated at night. Of course, that’s just one of the many changes that fans who enter Fowler Park and Cunningham Field have noticed.
“Is this place awesome or what?” asks John Cunningham, rhetorically. Head coach of the University of San Diego baseball program for 35 seasons (1964-98) and responsible, literally, for construction of the previous facility — located on the same site from 1977 to 2012 — he’s effusive about the ballpark. “Thank you, Ron and Alexis Fowler. It’s a dream come true.”
The $13.8 million facility opened Feb. 15 when the Toreros played host to San Diego State. The Fowlers, who gave the generous lead gift, cut the ribbon to kick off the festivities. Ron threw out the ceremonial first pitch and commended USD and its construction partners on delivering a quality ballpark. During the dedication of Cunningham Field the following night, USD Executive Director of Athletics Ky Snyder surprised Cunningham with the news that his jersey number, 33, would become the first Torero number to be retired.
San Diego Padres Hall-of- Famer Tony Gwynn, now head coach of the Aztecs, applauds the addition of Fowler Park. He’s particularly happy for his one-time college teammate, Rich Hill, who’s in his 15th season as USD’s head coach.
“When Rich told me he was getting a new ballpark, I was trying to envision what it would look like,” Gwynn says. “It turned out even better than he described. I’m happy for him, happy for USD baseball and happy for San Diego.”
The 1,700-seat ballpark — which can expand to more than 3,000 with temporary seating so that USD can host an NCAA Regional or Super Regional — gives Hill added confidence that it can be an asset for player recruitment. “We’ve had great recruiting classes in the past and we hope this helps us keep players from signing pro contracts,” Hill says. “The facility is second to none.”
Snyder says Fowler Park’s debut is only one part of the Drive for Torero Success campaign. “This isn’t a completion, it’s the start of something special,” he says. “I look at the ballpark as us rounding first base. We want to go around and make all of our facilities worthy of USD and its reputation.”