The Petco Park Gameday Experience
Inside The San Diego Padres Downtown Stadium
Seeing the Padres from the seats is only part of the Petco Park Experience.
It's a place to park it at the ballpark, a destination onto itself, a spot that is more than for simply watching sports.
Going to Petco Park goes beyond seeing the San Diego Padres play baseball. Rather, it's an experience. For when the city and team built this stadium, they hit it out of the park. With the bases loaded.
Petco Park is part ballpark, part amusement park. About the only outside attraction that's missing here is the Mission Beach roller coaster.
There's an aircraft carrier inside (well, a pretty large replica of one, anyway, the USS Midway featuring a deck stacked with aircraft of different eras), a nod to San Diego's US Naval history. Fans can even get their picture taken next to a cutout of Padres broadcaster and WWII and Korean War naval pilot Jerry Coleman.
Fans relax as if on a picnic in the Petco outfield.
Fans in the stands cheer on – or agonize over – the Padres.
Petco has a large city park-like area behind the outfield that's great for walking around or hanging out, with food and concession stands along the way. It's between the playing field and a grassy hill that's perfect for picnics or simply chillin' with a chilled Bud – all with a view of the action. On Fridays, concerts are held here and there's a fireworks show on Saturdays. In front of this area, a small area called "The Beach" is where people gather to take in batting practice.
There's even a small baseball diamond here where kids can field grounders while the pros are doing the same not far away.
Inside the actual stadium there is a pitching cage with speed gun and displays of the history of baseball in San Diego and of the franchise.
Yes, the Padres are playing here somewhere.
The setup of Petco and the atmosphere of the place is perfectly suited to its Southern California surroundings. It's casual and laid-back and entertaining and enjoyable. It's possible to spend a pleasant evening wandering around the stadium without ever going to the seats. While also seeing much of the action. And those seats are roomy and confortable, and all have a cup holder.
From the seats or a seat at the bar, Petco hits a HR with the fans.
In addition to the view from what is called Picnic Hill, there are several open spaces next to the concession areas that are open to the field. It's quite common for people watch the game from these places, many putting down their food and beer and enjoying the game from these vantage points.
A statue recognizes the accomplishments of "Mr. Padre," Tony Gwynn.
The attractions inside the stadium include a USS Midway replica.
Baseball lends itself to such casual sports watching, for it is not as intense as football, the outcome of which can turn on a single play. With 81 regular-season home games each year, the sport is also much more forgiving in the loss column.
And now people have even more of a reason to go to the ol' ballpark, because the Padres are actually good, and may well win the National League West and host playoff games.
Perhaps, even, the World Series.
This full plate of food is $20.25, which includes the 16-ounce beer.
Attending Petco Park does not exactly set the budget back, as is the case at many American sports stadiums. Single-game tickets are as low as $10. PubClub.com had a good and filling BBQ platter (full sandwich, delicious baked beans and potato salad) from Randy Jones BBQ for just $12.50. A 16-ounce bottle of Budweiser added $7.75 to the tab.
That's a good price for any dinner, let alone one at a new and modern stadium.
There's even an all-you-can-eat section for $29.
Many people opt to eat and drink beforehand – and especially do the latter after the game – and PubClub.com is working on a story about exactly where fans do just that for Padres games.
To find out where they gather and party, click here.
Petco Park is located at the edge of San Diego's Gaslamp area.
PETCO PARK FACTS & FIGURES
• Location: 100 Park Blvd., on the edge of the Gaslamp Quarter
• Transportaton: Steps from the Convention Center Trolly stop
• Phone: (619) 795-5000
• Capacity: 44,445 (seats)
• Tickets: $10-63. For a seating guide & prices, click here.
There's ice-cold Budweisers, but also cooler cold at a chillin' 23 degrees.
There are great views throughout Petco Park.
The downtown ballpark is a big hit with Padres fans.
In San Diego, games are laid-back, especially on the grass hill in the outfield.