Petco Park: an enigma, wrapped in a riddle, wrapped in a ballpark. There is so much to say about a park that offers a bit of everything, even baseball!
After leaving San Francisco, we had a full night of driving ahead of us. Our end goal, though, was comfortable lodging and a 4-year-old nephew who couldn’t wait to see his Uncle Tim. We slept a few hours, then prepared for our evening foray into San Diego and Petco Park.
Around the Park
Parking In San Diego was interesting. The Padres never had plethora of parking, but in recent years they lost one of their lots to the city. To counteract this loss of spots, they have ingeniously partnered with local parking garages. Discounted rates for Padres parking can be found through the city and are advertised on their website. Parking was a breeze and the walk to the stadium through the GasLamp District was quick and scenic.
So this is where it starts to get…weird. What IS this thing? Is it a mall, is it a baseball park, is it an office complex?
There are not a lot of clear answers from the external views of the park. Tim found this to be–disturbing. Brian found this to be–intriguing. The main entrance of the park, the southernmost tip, provided us with the clearest “baseball ballpark” view. But even then, the pyramid structures off to the left gave us the distinct impression that entering Petco would be an entirely different experience than our previous 3 days.
By now we had discussed our ticket buying plan and decided that we would walk up to every stadium to experience what someone walking up to the stadium would feel. The staff was incredible friendly and helpful in selecting our tickets. The prices were cheap and there were a variety of choices. From the beach seats, to Park at the Park, there are number of different avenues the Padres are leveraging to drive fans into the park.
Once we made it into the stadium, our premonitions were confirmed. This would not be a “cookie cutter” ballpark. The wide-open design of the concourse reminded us of an open air mall. The Western Metal Supply Company had an entirely different aesthetic feel, it wasn’t until we were sitting in our seat that it actually felt like a baseball stadium. The views from out seat prioritized baseball with plexiglass at the bottom of the aisles (as opposed to the metal bars of a typical stadium).
The seats were easy to find and, given that the game was on a Monday night, there were not too many people to fight through to find our location. We opted for seats in the upper deck behind home plate, instead of bleacher seats which we had been sitting in the past two games. The seats offered a great view of the city and of the gigantic video board.
Entertainment and Amenities
The aforementioned video board provided much of the entertainment for the evening with typical baseball games in the half innings, as well as tweets from fans scrolling through the bottom corner. What set Petco (for better or for worse) away from its peers, though, is the amenities. Listed completely, it doesn’t even seem like a baseball stadium, but rather an amusement park or city center:
– Park at the Park (giant open hill and grassy area)
– Beach Seats (yes, exactly like it sounds: seats with a giant sand pit at the bottom)
– Wiffle Ball Field (!?)
– Viewing deck and restaurants in the Western Metal Supply Company (best view in the park)
– View of the San Diego skyline (it felt like you were a part of the skyline)
All in all, it’s a smattering of locations and fixed structures throughout the park and our best guess is that families love it.
Well, it was a Monday, so we don’t want to sell out the San Diego faithful too much, but the “announced” attendance was 22,000… and there is no way it was that close. Luckily (or unluckily, depending on which side you were on) the Padres were playing the Mets, so there were a fair amount of New York fans. The fans that were there cheered when appropriate and gave Ian Kennedy his due applause after his nice outing. But the engagement was not the same with a half empty ballpark. Color us unimpressed, but open to further review.
Shout-out to the Fox Sports San Diego
Before the game got underway, we had the good fortune to be interviewed by Ally Sturm of Fox Sports San Diego for her show “Padres POV”. She and her producer, Jake Santos, showed us around Petco and were extremely kind and welcoming. Thank you guys for making two guys from Chicago feel at home in San Diego.
Brian & Tim remained split on the Petco Park experience. Tim felt the scattershot of amenities detracted from the park, as they were structure to disengage fans from the whole point of being at a baseball stadium: baseball. Brian thought the variety of activities offered by Petco made it an exciting night for the whole family. And who wouldn’t want an amusement park for baseball? Petco offered plenty.
As we made our way back to Ryan’s (Tim’s Brother), we were thrilled for some sleep (and even during normal sleeping hours)! The next day would bring us north to the Angels of Anaheim, or is it LA?
~ Brian and Tim
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