Despite not being Padres fans, we do really like Petco Park. It has an awesome location in Downtown San Diego, is relatively new, very clean and safe, and easy to get to. Petco opened in 2004, (the first game of which Brian was actually in attendance for!) but the Padres have been around San Diego for much longer. There are a ton of restaurants and bars within walking distance to the park, so you can easily grab a bite to eat or a drink before and/or after a game (unlike Oakland Coliseum, where my A’s play – you really only go to the stadium and then leave – there’s nothing else in the area). Also not to be missed are the great views of the rest of downtown, San Diego Bay, and Coronado from the top of the stadium!
There is a grassy berm behind the field where you can pay $5 to sit on the grass picnic-style and watch from an outfield view. There is also a mini baseball diamond where the kids can play! There are bleachers just past the center field fence with sand at the bottom they call “the beach.”
One of the coolest (in my opinion) features of the park is the Western Metal Supply building. This building was built in 1909, back when Downtown was pretty much all of San Diego. It housed the metal supply company that produced metal for everything from blacksmiths, wagons, later automobiles, plumbing, etc. throughout the Southwest. Years later, the area where the stadium is now located, called East Village, was economically depressed and worn down, and the Western Metal Supply building stood in disrepair. Once plans were made to construct Petco Park where it now stands, plans were slated for the demolition of the historic building. Instead, the building was incorporated into the plans for the park and still stands! There are ballpark seats, a Padres merchandise shop, and even a restaurant (Padres Hall of Fame Bar and Grill) in the old Western Metal Supply building now.
Other cool and interesting features:
- Breakfast at the Park – at all Sunday home games, you can eat breakfast on the playing field!
- There are vegetarian and even gluten free concessions available for those with special diets
- Whenever a home run is hit by a Padres player, an actual recording of the Navy aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan’s horn is played and fireworks are shot off
- Local flavor eats are available, including Anthony’s Fish Grotto and Filippi’s Pizza!
- Power Alley – an area in the park with a replica of the USS Midway, military appreciation display, a fast pitch game, and a batting cage
- Brick plazas – Petco sells bricks and adds them to the park, and the proceeds go to charity. One of the bricks was purchased by PETA, who wrote “Break Open Your Cold Ones Toast The Padres Enjoy This Champion Organization” = BOYCOTT PETCO. That brick is still there!
As far as fans go, the ones at Petco are pretty mellow. If you wear another team’s gear, you won’t experience heckling like at a lot of other MLB parks (Yankees anyone ? ). At least, everytime I have attended I wear an A’s or Giants accessory or piece of clothing and have not had a problem. All in all, Petco is a great ballpark, even if you aren’t a baseball fan. Visit Downtown, catch a game, and then walk to grab a bite and a few drinks afterwards!
Getting there: You can park throughout Downtown, usually for a fee (normally there are lots for $10 all-day). You can also reach the stadium by the trolley if you are coming from another area of San Diego. There are a number of hotels in the area if you had a little too much fun at the game!