The North Carolina state football team are scheduled to arrive in San Diego on Thursday to begin a series of practices and activities leading up to face UCLA in Tuesday’s 43rd annual Holiday Bowl, the first at Petco Park. .
The arrival will mark the first time many Wolfpack players will be on the West Coast, according to trainer Dave Doeren, who was born at Coronado Island Naval Base in 1971 while his father was stationed there.
“It’s kind of cool for me to have the chance to come back to where I was born and play in a bowl and be able to do that in a professional baseball stadium,” said Doeren, who grew up in Kansas. “I’ve never played in a baseball stadium so it will be a fun experience.”
There are no Californians on the list for the state of North Carolina, which is made up primarily of players from North Carolina. The closest-raised player to California is first-year Phoenix quarterback Ben Finley whose older brother Ryan was the 2016-18 Wolfpack starting quarterback.
The Bruins are scheduled to arrive on Friday.
The state of North Carolina is expected to visit the San Diego Zoo on Friday and join UCLA at Sea World on Saturday and take a tour of the Navy assault ship USS Makin Island on Sunday.
“I’ve always enjoyed Sea World,” Doeren told reporters on Dec. 5 when announcing the bowl game. “I will definitely take it into account.”
Petco Park will host its first-ever football game after San Diego executives announced the Holiday Bowl will be hosted at the Padres’ home.
This will be the first time that an Atlantic Coast Conference team has participated in the Holiday Bowl. Under an agreement announced in 2019, the ACC will provide a squad for the game until at least 2025. The agreement was scheduled to begin with the 2020 game, which was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The sale of the SDCCU Stadium – where the Holiday Bowl had been played since its inaugural edition in 1978 to 2019 – to San Diego State University in 2020, and its demolition to make way for a West Campus and the Aztec Stadium, left the bowl game without a house.
The San Diego Padres announced a partnership with the San Diego Bowl Game Association in July allowing the Holiday Bowl to be played at Petco Park for at least the next five years, starting this year, subject to the approval of the city council, which was granted later in July, overturning a previous ban on football in the downtown baseball stadium.