Petco Park, Home of the San Diego Padres

Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres, was the second leg of our staff's trip to Southern California to see all three Major League ballparks in the region. We entered Petco Park and the beautiful city of San Diego with low expectations. The San Diego Padres are a small market baseball team on the West Coast that Major League Baseball rarely shines the limelight on unless they're making serious noise. Let's just say that we were blown away and can now see plain as day why the ballpark was able to secure the 2016 MLB All-Star game. 

Petco Park 

Moving briefly off subject, I was shocked at the amount of homeless people I saw living outside of Petco Park in downtown San Diego. I made the joke and said "Hey! Who can afford to live here"? Parking at Petco Park is extremely tough, especially with all of the construction outside of the stadium. I would recommend purchasing your parking ahead of time. "Tailgate Park" is perhaps the most popular parking lot in the area ($20 per vehicle) and is on the corner of 14th street and Imperial Avenue. Spaces are limited so make sure you arrive an hour before the game to guarantee yourself a parking spot. If you're able to utilize the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System to get to the game, it's a beautiful and easy ride. You will want to get off at San Diego Station, which is adjacent to Petco Park and Gaslamp Quarter. Fares will vary.

View from Section 102 at Petco Park, Home of the San Diego Padres

The Padres were hosting the Atlanta Braves the day we visited. Our seats were in section 102, row E, directly behind home plate. The view of the field was excellent - we were maybe 20 feet from the field and behind the protective netting. The seats were extremely comfortable with a fair amount of leg and elbow room. However, the seats weren't padded. Snoop Dogg and Mark Paul Gosselaar (Zack Morris) were in attendance that afternoon and were seated near us. Wil Myers of the Padres blasted two home runs that day which we found to be surprising; Petco Park typically gives up the fewest home runs in Major League Baseball. If I'm not mistaken, Petco Park has the deepest center field in Major League Baseball at 410 feet.

Petco Park also has a wonderful view of the San Diego skyline as you can see in the photo above. However, I will add that PNC Park (Pittsburgh Pirates) and Comerica Park (Detroit Tigers) have the best skyline views in Major League Baseball. Side note: the ushers in section 102 are very thorough about checking tickets; be prepared. Also, the video board in upper left field is the third largest in Major League Baseball and was only recently added.

 

The first aspect of Petco Park that caught my eye was it's cleanliness. The place is immaculate. The concourses are nice and wide and allow for large flows of traffic. This place still feels brand new. There are merchandise and food vendors virtually everywhere you look. Phil's BBQ outside of section 113 is worth trying as are the beers Pacifico, Ballast Point, Mission Brewery and Montejo which we cannot purchase in our hometowns. Former Padres player Randy Jones also owns a number of BBQ concessions throughout Petco Park. "Ballpark Eats" is the concession stand found most consistently throughout the ballpark where you'll find the basics; hot dogs, nachos, brats, popcorn and peanuts. If you're in the mood for a Philadelphia cheesesteak, "Gaglione Brothers" outside of sections 124 and 319 will have you covered. 

 

The Petco Park staff couldn't be friendlier and more professional. San Diego is a military city and there is an awesome display of a replica aircraft carrier in the concourse down the third base side. 

"Park at the Park" in center field.

The families and casual baseball fans will especially enjoy "Park at the Park" in center field. The area boasts a large grassy picnic area, also called "Picnic Hill". The area is ideal for families and offers a large TV that broadcasts the game live. A game ticket is required to enter the area.

Tony Gwynn Statue at Petco Park

"Park at the Park" is part of Tony Gwynn Plaza where you'll find a beautiful Tony Gwynn statue, the greatest player in San Diego Padres history. Also in the area is "The Beach" which is a sand pit as well as a miniature baseball field for small children. The area is excellent for parents that want to watch the game and have children that would rather cut loose and have fun. Fittingly, Petco Park also allows fans to bring their dogs to the ballpark and offers a designated seating area for you and your pet in center field. 

The Western Metal Supply Company building was a previously abandoned building that operated in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter. Like Oriole Park at Camden Yards, home of the Baltimore Orioles, the San Diego Padres incorporated a historic building into their ballpark. If you'll notice in the photo above, fans are able to rent out the rooftop of the Western Metal Supply Company building for individual Padres games. If you also noticed the yellow stripe on the building, it serves as the left field foul pole. I loved that the Padres organization incorporated San Diego history into Petco Park. The official San Diego Padres team store is also located in the Western Metal Supply Company building.

Gaslamp Quarter in downtown San Diego, California 

Gaslamp Quarter is a historic neighborhood adjacent to Petco Park and the equivalent of Wrigleyville, outside of Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The area features a number of distinct retail shops, bars, hotels and restaurants. We had dinner at the "Ocean Room" along 5th avenue in Gaslamp Quarter and I enjoyed some of the best raw oysters I've ever had. Gaslamp Quarter is the place to be both before and after San Diego Padres home games, especially on the weekends. Are you a fan of the visiting team and hope to spot your favorite players out on the town? Look no further than Gaslamp Quarter. A few of the more popular establishments in Gaslamp Quarter include Mission Brewery, Chianti, La Fiesta, Sidebar, Fluxx, The Blind Burro, The Tipsy Crow, The Deck and Hard Rock Cafe. 

Petco Park, Home of the San Diego Padres 

After visiting Dodger Stadium and Angel Stadium of Anaheim during the same week, it's safe to say San Diego Padres fans are the most laid back fan base in Southern California and some of the most laid back fans in Major League Baseball. San Diego is a transplant city with new residents from all over the United States. From what we've been told, when the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants are in town, it becomes a home game for those teams. However, their ballpark is top notch and easily the most underrated ballpark in Major League Baseball; no exaggeration. 

  

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