October 22, 2021

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The Sports Fanatics

Aztecs will have their day in the sun against Towson

The complaint for years about San Diego State football games is that they start too late.

Kickoff times are typically 7:30 p.m. That means the games end close to 11 p.m., sometimes after, so many fans don’t get home until after midnight.

And that was before “home” games were relocated two hours north for the 2020-21 seasons.

Kickoff for SDSU’s game Saturday against Towson is 12:30 p.m. at Carson’s Dignity Health Sports Park. The game should end sometime between 3:30 and 4. Be back home by 6.

And all is right with the world. Or is it?

Some Aztecs fans have a new complaint: They have to sit in the sun.

“That sun was brutal for the team and fans,” one person complained this week on an Aztecs chat board.

Responded another: “Yes, that is so crazy the coaching staff wanted to be on that side. I have seats on the ‘away’ side for that very reason. … I love my seats in the shade.”

With the opposing team’s fans.

“Why would the Aztecs choose to be on the ‘sunny’ side, looking into the sun?” asked still another.

SDSU head coach Brady Hoke said he chose sides in consultation with operations staff, but there was no overriding reason for the decision.

“I like where we’re at, I’ll be honest with you,” Hoke said. “I like exactly where we’re at.

“I like the sun.”

With kickoff at 4 p.m., Hoke and Co. enjoyed the sun for the first half against Utah before it dipped below the stands.

There was an observation from one fan watching on television that squinting into the sun made Hoke’s game face more intense, while Utah coach Kyle Whittingham presented a more relaxed visage.

With a nod toward the Towson game, another fan on the chat board pointed out that “if the game starts with the sun out, you’ll definitely need a hat.”

Well, what do you know?

SDSU hats will be given Saturday to the first 10,000 fans in attendance.

Talk about timing.

No need to rush the gates. There should be plenty of hats to go around. (In fact, don’t be surprised if leftovers are used for a hat giveaway in the spring at a baseball or softball game.)

There is some logic to choosing the east — sun — side of the field at Dignity Health.

There is a second deck of seats, so more SDSU fans could be accommodated there than on the west side.

Who knew the Aztecs wouldn’t draw enough fans to fill either side of the 27,000-seat venue, which has 8,000 seats on the east side?

Also, the locker rooms are located on the south side of the stadium and the entrance tunnel is adjacent to the east sideline, so SDSU players and coaches can take a direct route to their sideline.

At San Diego Stadium, SDSU chose to stand on the south sideline for a field that went east to west.

About the only time sun was a topic of conversation was as it set while tailgating for early season games.

The orientation of the field at the new Aztec Stadium will be north-south. The home side will be on the west, which is where locker rooms will be located.

The Aztecs will make their entrance through a tunnel located at midfield beneath the seats.

The position of the sun likely won’t be a topic of discussion after Saturday’s game.

Kickoff time for the Oct. 9 game against New Mexico, which is expected to be announced Monday, likely will be late afternoon or evening. Home games against Fresno State (Oct. 30) and Nevada (Nov. 13) are both at 7:30 p.m.

Then there is the regular-season finale against Boise State (Nov. 26).

Kickoff is 9 a.m.

SDSU’s buses will pull into the parking lot right about sunrise and the game will begin before the sun peeks over the bleachers.

“At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter,” one fan reasoned. “Both teams have to deal with any sun (or lack thereof) on the field.”

The Aztecs practice in the afternoon, where the sun can be intense during fall practice and into the season, so sunshine during games is nothing new to them.

For the most part, senior left tackle Zachary Thomas said, sun is not an issue.

There is this: Thomas was asked if he will wear sunscreen Saturday.

“I might,” he said. “I burn easy.”


https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/sports/aztecs/story/2021-09-23/san-diego-state-aztecs-sdsu-football-sunshine-towson-dignity-health-sports-park