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Millions invested ahead of canceled Holiday Bowl

Posted at 4:06 PM, Dec 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-29 20:12:21-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Getting Petco Park prepared for the San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl involved more than just repainting the field—it included a multi-million dollar project subsidized by taxpayers, with a return not coming for at least another year.

Petco Park was designed in a way that made it impossible to fit a football field on its grass. But with the Mission Valley stadium now torn down, San Diego's biggest venue became the natural choice for the SDCCU Holiday Bowl.

To make that happen, the Padres, who manage Petco in a joint agreement with the city, embarked on a $2.2 million dollar project to get the stadium ready for the gridiron.

The city would chip in an estimated $650,000 dollars through future credits to the Padres. In exchange, the city would get 30 percent of the Holiday Bowl revenue for the next five years -- estimated to be north of $1.6 million.

Everything was on track for the big game Tuesday, until UCLA canceled just hours before kickoff, citing COVID concerns.

The loss, felt beyond Petco's gates, at East Village businesses like City Tacos, which canceled shifts for two staffers.

"It was going to be a lot of help to see the traffic coming and to be able to show customers what we're all about," said Israel Montano, the restaurant's operations manager.

"It didn't happen."

Meanwhile, the city says it cannot alter the agreement with the Padres, even though its share of revenue this year will be zero.

A bowl spokesman said it would take time to answer these financial questions. A city spokesman said the city could recoup its investment in the football project through future events.