The Holiday Bowl was all set to be played this week, but now is the fifth college bowl game to be cancelled. The game was called off after UCLA was forced to pull out of the game after suffering a COVID outbreak and another suitor could not be found. This game would have been the first football game to be played in Petco Park.
In a statement released by Holiday Bowl officials they stated, “Sadly we are announcing that the 2021 SDCCU Holiday Bowl is cancelled. We worked closely with Boo Corrigan and the fantastic NC State Athletics staff to try and find a replacement team for UCLA, but were unable to do so. We are especially heartbroken for the Student Athletes and, of course, our RedCoat and RedShirt volunteers and staff who spent so much time and effort into planning an incredible festival of events, culminating in a premier bowl game.” The cancellation of the game dealt a major blow to the San Diego economy, as many people come from their respective schools to watch and cheer on their school. The game was set to be played at Petco Park, home of the Padres, and the first football game played in the stadium.
The game would have created a lot of traffic in the Gaslamp Quarter, the area that Petco Park is located in, which does not get as much traffic during this time as it does during baseball season. The Holiday Bowl has been in San Diego since 1978, and generates millions for the San Diego economy. In 2011, the game generated $18.6 million in economic impact for San Diego. The 2009 game between Arizona and Nebraska saw an economic impact of $40.7 million, much of it coming from non-local attendees who accounted for 68% of attendees.
It is unfortunate that the game was cancelled, but not just for the fans, but for the players. North Carolina State said in a tweet, “Heartbroken to not be able to compete one more time this season. We were informed a short time ago that our opponent would be unable to play this evening”. Head coach Dave Doeren aired his frustrations in an interview with ESPN, “ We felt like UCLA probably knew something was going on, didn’t tell anybody on our side. We had no clue they were up against that. I don’t feel like it was very well handled from their university. It would have been great to have had a heads up so two or three days ago we could have found a Plan B. Disappointing.”
Photo Cred: Times of San Diego