Play ball! Southwest University Park officially opens

Chihuahuas fall 2-1 in extra innings in inaugural game of ballpark.

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Play ball! Southwest University Park officially opens

Manager Pat Murphy salutes the sold out crowd on opening day of the new ballpark.

Manager Pat Murphy salutes the sold out crowd on opening day of the new ballpark.

Michaela Roman

Manager Pat Murphy salutes the sold out crowd on opening day of the new ballpark.

Michaela Roman

Michaela Roman

Manager Pat Murphy salutes the sold out crowd on opening day of the new ballpark.

Javier Cortez, Staff Reporter

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$72 million dollars and 378 days later Southwest University Park finally opened to a lively sold out crowd of El Pasoans.

From the upper deck to the first row seats, the new stadium proved to be immaculate. The field was in pristine shape, the suites were state of the art, and overall structure of the stadium was creative, innovative, and something different.

“This has been amazing,” “I am really glad that someone had the interest and vision to make this work,” said avid baseball fan Danny Mena. “I think this can develop into something really exciting for downtown El Paso, it’s a happening.”

Hours before the game there was a heavy flow of traffic, people were swarming the concourse and perusing the gift shop for Chihuahua memorabilia. Once the first pitch was thrown though, there was not one empty seat in the stadium.

“It’s been an experience, this park is really impressive, this can be a really interesting and exciting thing for El Paso,” Mena said. “Everyone has been really festive, and happy kind of like the UTEP women’s basketball games.”

Once the players and coaching staff were introduced they were given a standing ovation. The pregame ceremonies seemed to carry on for more than an hour. El Paso dignitaries, politicians, front office staff and many more were introduced.

A special moment came 15 minutes before the start of the game. 60 members of the construction team that helped built the stadium were brought out and spread across the outfield, they were also given a standing ovation.

Former major league gold glove winner nine-year MLB veteran Jeff Francoeur caught the first ceremonial pitches and the starting lineups followed.

Then in a special second ceremonial pitch was in tribute to the 1949 Bowie high school state championship baseball team. Andy Morales who was the second basemen on the team throughout the first pitch to 2014 Bowie baseball team captain.

The game started 37 minutes behind schedule but the crowd was patient and still excited for a new era of El Paso minor league baseball. Jason Lane started the game for the Chihuahuas and the first pitch in Southwest University Park was a ball. The Chihuahuas did end up sending the Grizzlies three up-three down in the first inning of Chihuahua’s baseball.

In the third inning left fielder Travis Buck broke the game open with the first run of the game, and first homerun in Southwest University Park giving the Chihuahua’s the early lead.

After the Grizzlies tied the game at 1-1 in the fourth inning, both teams stayed silent offensively for the next eight innings. The Grizzlies finally broke through and won the game in the thirteenth inning by the final score of 2-1 to take the first game of the Chihuahua’s opening home series.

Even though the Chihuahua’s put up a good fight throughout the game and put on a show for the fans of El Paso. The game was secondary though as tonight was a night of history and win or lose the city of El Paso won.

Javier Cortez may be reached at [email protected]

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