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Tucson Padres fans now cheering on Chihuahuas at first home game

By: Bill Melugin
TUCSON, AZ -- As the El Paso Chihuahuas squared off against the Reno Aces Friday night at Kino Stadium in Tucson, many residents came out to see their former team.

While their new home is under construction in El Paso, the Chihuahuas played their first home game of the season at their old home in Tucson where they were once called the Tucson Padres.

Members of the team said they couldn't wait for their first game in El Paso.

"Being on the road for 24-25 straight days is going to be a hassle, but we're going to grind through that. It's going to be fun to get well acquainted with the community and see what El Paso has to offer for us," said outfielder Rico Noel.

Tucson resident David Rodriguez came out to see the game and said he loves the team. For him, it doesn't matter what they are called.

"Either way, I'm a San Diego padres fan, and I go pretty much wherever they go," Rodriguez said. "First we were the Tucson Padres now the El Paso Chihuahuas, so I got to stick with the team."

Rodriguez said Southwest University Park in El Paso looks like an upgrade compared to the Tucson Padres now El Paso Chihuahuas' former home.

"I've actually seen their online feed to take a look at it; I'm actually amazed by it," Rodriguez said. "That stadium actually looks way better than this one."

Noel is also looking forward to playing ball in El Paso's new ballpark.

"It's a great stadium; it's going to be nice," Noel said. "The fans are ready to go and everyone's going to have our back, so we're excited to be in El Paso."

Betsy Checchia is disappointed to see the Tucson Padres go, but she plans to attend games in El Paso.

"I guess not so much mad at El Paso as disappointed with Tucson that we couldn't figure out a way to keep the team. El Paso really wanted it, and it looks like they're really into it, so good for them," Checchia said. "I heard the opening day is sold out, which is great for them. I don't think we ever sold out a Tucson Padres game here."

The El Paso Chihuahuas are scheduled to play their first home game in El Paso on April 28 against the Fresno Grizzles.

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