Poinsettia Bowl goes on as planned despite flooding concerns - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Poinsettia Bowl goes on as planned despite flooding concerns

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Navy and San Diego State may have to contend with slippery turf Thursday night when they play in the Poinsettia Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium, where 1.5 million gallons of storm water had to be pumped out because of the recent rain.

The natural turf playing field, which had been deluged with water and mud, appears to be in good shape, with a freshly spray-painted San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl logo, said Poinsettia Bowl executive director Bruce Binkowski.

The good news is that no more rain is expected during the game, which could come down to which team is able to adjust to the condition of the playing surface. Both teams rely on speed to overcome their opponents - the Midshipmen on the ground and the Aztecs via the air.

Navy, 9-3, pounds the ball inside, hoping to eventually spring a big play on the perimeter.

Much of San Diego State's scoring in its 8-4 season came on long passes to speedy wide receivers Vincent Brown and DeMarco Sampson. The Aztecs are in their first bowl game in 12 years.

To San Diego State coach Brady Hoke, the condition of the field doesn't matter.

"Whatever it is, it is, and you got to go play on it," Hoke said at a news conference Wednesday. "The thing about football is you both play on the same surface and you do the same things."   

Tailgaters were already arriving Thursday afternoon, but only 11,000 parking spots out of the usual 19,000 are available due to floodwaters from the San Diego River that covered much of the outer ring of the lot yesterday morning.

A record 51,000 tickets have been sold for the game, which is set to kickoff at 5:06 p.m.

The previous record for the bowl game, started in 2005, was 39,129, when Navy played Utah in 2007.

The Metropolitan Transit System will provide special green light services at 15-minute intervals on nearby roads to ease game traffic, and ACE Parking is cooperating to maximize parking.

Due to limited parking, fans are urged to carpool or consider public transportation.

Fans can count on extra Green Line trolleys heading to the stadium, but should still arrive early, said Judy Leitner of the MTS.

The parking lot opened at 11 a.m. Off-site parking is available, for a fee, at San Diego State University, the Mission City Corporate Center on Northside Drive, the Marriott Mission Valley on Rio San Diego Drive, and the Town and County Hotel on Hotel Circle North.

All but the SDSU site are in Mission Valley, so some may also be impacted by the rain.

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By News 8 Reporter Doug Kolk

Update: 

I ran into Poinsettia Bowl Executive Director Bruce Binkowski just before my 6:30am live shot.   He told me the Qualcomm field is in "beautiful shape."  (Take a look at picture on left)

Crews have made tremendous progress over night pumping nearly 3 feet of water off the field.  "They are painting the team logos as we speak!," Binkowski told me with utter enthusiasm. 

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The biggest problem at Thursday's Poinsettia Bowl won't be solving Navy's triple option or San Diego State's passing attack, but getting to Qualcomm Stadium and back.

Even before the rain that flooded the stadium's parking lot and closed the trolley line from the east, officials recommended that fans take public transportation.

Around 51,000 tickets have been sold for the first of San Diego's two postseason college football games.

It was unclear how much of the parking lot would be available for cars. Floodwaters from the San Diego River covered much of the outer ring of the lot Wednesday morning.

The Metropolitan Transit Service added trolleys for the Green Line that goes to the stadium, but with the number of parking spaces at the stadium likely to be reduced, no more trolleys can be added to meet demand, said Judy Leitner of the MTS.

"If (fans) were planning to go early, they should go earlier," Leitner said.

The heavy rain also gathered on the field at Qualcomm Stadium, which is protected by a tarp. City crews worked all day Wednesday to pump the water out.

The game could come down to which team is able to adjust to the footing on what's left of the field. Both teams rely on speed to overcome their opponents -- the Midshipmen on the ground and the Aztecs via the air.

Navy, 9-3, pounds the ball inside, hoping to eventually spring a big play on the perimeter.

Much of San Diego State's scoring in its 8-4 season came on long passes to speedy wide receivers Vincent Brown and DeMarco Sampson. The Aztecs are in their first bowl game in 12 years.

To San Diego State coach Brady Hoke, the condition of the field doesn't matter.

"Whatever it is, it is, and you gotta to go play on it," Hoke said at a news conference Wednesday. "The thing about football, is you both play on the same surface and you do the same things."

The parking lot is scheduled to open at 11 a.m. Off-site parking is available, for a fee, at San Diego State University, the Mission City Corporate Center on Northside Drive, the Marriott Mission Valley on Rio San Diego Drive, and the Town and County Hotel on Hotel Circle North.

All but the SDSU site are in Mission Valley, so are potentially affected by high water.

Ticket sales will set a record for the Poinsettia Bowl, which has been played annually since 2005. The previous largest crowd was 39,129, when Navy played Utah in 2007.

The Midshipmen will have been involved in all three of the most well-attended games, and are expected to have about 20,000 supporters in the stands Thursday.

This is a story update. Read the previous story below.

SAN DIEGO (AP/News 8) — Stadium crews will be working through the night at Qualcomm Stadium to clear the flooded playing field, less than a day before the Poinsettia Bowl is set to kick off.

"It is game on," Poinsettia Bowl executive director Bruce Binkowski told News 8. "We are going to work around the clock."

Just in case, Navy might want to bring a dry dock.

San Diego State could pitch in with some bilge pumps.

The two teams are scheduled to play in the Poinsettia Bowl on Thursday night at Qualcomm Stadium, where several days of heavy rain left the field under several inches of water just more than 24 hours before kickoff.

A seal or two might show up, and not necessarily from the elite Navy unit based in Coronado.

"We have every intention of kicking off at 5:06 p.m.," Binkowski told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "The stadium grounds crew work will work round the clock to make sure they get in the game."

On Wednesday afternoon, the tarp covering the field looked more like a pool cover. The field appeared to be under perhaps 10 inches or more of muddy water.

"What we have here is Mother Nature at work," Binkowski said. "And we are now at work trying to get this field drained and cleared."

A large portion of the parking lot flooded as well, which could cause problems for the expected crowd of 51,000. The parking lot is next to the San Diego River, which overflows every time it rains hard.

Those fans planning on coming to the Bowl Game are encouraged to arrive early, and use public transportation if possible, according to Binkowski.

It rained so hard Tuesday that Navy and SDSU practiced in hotel ballrooms. SDSU held its Wednesday walk through on campus while Navy found a nearby high school with a turf field.

The soaking wet conditions left coaches Ken Niumatalolo of Navy and Brady Hoke of San Diego State vowing to splash through the mud, if that's what it takes.

"Sometimes college football has become big business but these are young men that grew up playing football in the backyard when it was raining," Niumatalolo said. "We're excited to strap it on anytime. For our seniors, this is going to be the last time for them to do this.

"Plus we've been practicing on a ballroom carpet, so I think the carryover is going to be minimal."

Hoke agreed, especially since the Aztecs are playing in their first bowl since 1998.

"That's part of football and part of what we've all grown up and played in that weather and had fun in that weather," Hoke said. "We plan to have fun again tomorrow night."

Soggy or not, it should be a better matchup than the longer-established Holiday Bowl, which will offer up a rematch between Washington and Nebraska in one week.

Navy (9-3) is coming off a 31-17 win against Army. SDSU (8-4) has enjoyed a turnaround under Hoke, the second-year coach who has instilled a sense of toughness that didn't exist under previous coaches Chuck Long and Tom Craft.

Hoke said practicing inside didn't hurt the Aztecs' preparation for Navy's triple option, which is led by quarterback Ricky Dobbs.

"We had a nice big ballroom. I think the Midway may be able to fit in it, as big as that place was," Hoke said, referring to an aircraft carrier that's now a floating museum on San Diego Bay.

"From a defensive perspective, our timing as far as execution of what we want to do against the triple, the veer, the counter, the speed option, the toss and all that stuff, getting the ball outside," Hoke added. "I think we have a really good opportunity and we got a lot done. From an offensive perspective, the ballroom is so big that we were throwing the ball and doing everything that we normally would do."

The Aztecs will counter with an offense led by running back Ronnie Hillman, the Mountain West Conference freshman of the year, and quarterback Ryan Lindley. Hillman set the MWC freshman single-season record with 1,304 yards, with 14 touchdowns. Lindley has thrown for 3,554 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Niumatalolo said that coming off the Army game, "you put on the tape and the euphoria of winning that game quickly leaves as you see Hillman, Ryan Lindley throwing the football, the defense running around."

This will be Navy's third Poinsettia Bowl appearance. It beat Colorado State 51-30 in the inaugural game in 2005 and lost to Utah 35-32 in 2007.

 

This is an update. The previous story is below.

 

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A large section of the parking lot and field at Qualcomm Stadium were under water Wednesday, which could lead to difficult conditions for players and fans alike at Thursday's San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl.

The San Diego Bowl Association announced on its Facebook and Twitter accounts that the 5 p.m. college football game will go on as scheduled.

The contest features hometown San Diego State University, appearing in its first post-season game in 12 years, against the U.S. Naval Academy.

Video shot by Chopper 8 showed water covering most of the outer ring of the parking lot at the stadium, after the adjacent San Diego River overflowed its banks. The rising waters also cut off nearby roads.

The images also showed the playing field, protected by a tarp, covered with standing water. The grass was re-sodded earlier this month.

Stadium workers were operating pumps to drain the field, according to the city of San Diego.

Earlier in the week, bowl organizers encouraged fans to use public transportation to attend the game. About 51,000 tickets had been sold by Monday.

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