Petco Park instantly became one of our favorite stadiums. It is a huge upgrade over Jack Murphy Stadium, which the San Diego Padres had shared with the now-Los Angeles Chargers.
It was rather controversial when the Padres decided to leave the suburban “Murph” for a downtown stadium. There were concerns of congestion, land and a clear path for plans to the nearby airport.
The Padres did it right, however, and have themselves one of the gems of Major League Baseball.
Public transportation is very good in San Diego. We parked for free near Old Town and rode the Trolley, which is the light rail. An all-day pass is only $5, which beats the average cost of around $20 in a downtown garage near the stadium.
The Padres website lists several transportation and parking options.
Petco Park is one of the easiest stadiums to get to with a wonderful public transportation system, as Patti said, with the light-rail. Driving in San Diego is also not that bad. It does have the usual rush-hour traffic on weeknights that you see in every major city, but the congestion is short-lived and won’t result in a five-mile drive taking 45 minutes.
The light-rail is the best way to go, however. It is quick and simple and, best of all, cheap. The San Diego Trolley light-rail runs adjacent to the stadium’s southern edge.
Petco was abuzz with eager fans and the enthusiasm was contagious. Seeing a game in San Diego is a quite enjoyable way to spend one’s birthday. The view of the field is good from all angles. There is much to do before the game with entertainment on the stage and a place to picnic in the Park at the Park, the Breitbard Hall of Fame area, the museum, and Bumble Bee Ballpark.
We went to a pair of games at Petco Park, sitting in a different area each time. We sat in Section 205, just above the home dugout, on Aug. 10, and then had outfield seats in Section 129 on Aug. 11.
Those sitting around us in each spot were fully engaged in the game. Petco Park is simply a wonderful place to see a game, even if the team isn’t very good. The team does a great job of creating a fun atmosphere that almost feels like a minor league game — and that’s a compliment.
One of the funniest things the Padres do is show fans wearing hats and shirts of teams that aren’t playing. After a few seconds, their image on the videoboard gets covered with a “Family Feud” style X that prompts laughter from the rest of the crowd — and also the people shown.
Patti and Ron both say:
The food at Petco Park is excellent. There are so many options, but Ron went with the recommended Hodad’s burger and it was delicious.
Patti enjoyed the barbecue from Phil’s BBQ, as well as her free birthday sundae.
Padres tickets aren’t that expensive, but they’re also not cheap. The two tickets we got in Section 205 set us back $132, but each did come with a pair of stemless wine glasses and one pour. The seats in Section 129 were much more reasonable at $19 apiece.
Patti also got that free ice cream sundae in a small Padres helmet on the Aug. 11 game because the Padres offer free ice cream to those celebrating their birthdays.
Concessions prices were affordable by California standards. Tuesday home games carry with them tacos for only $2.50 on Taco Tuesday. Beer prices start at $11 and hot dogs will set you back $7.
The Park at the Park and the old Western Metal Supply Co. building are two of the main features of Petco Park.
The Park at the Park is a popular hangout before and during the game with an open lawn on a small hill that offers a center-field view of the playing field. It is an ideal spot for casual fans who might want to picnic with their friends or family and check in on the game. Pregame activities are a constant with regular theme nights at Petco Park and a DJ playing music.
The Park at the Park also has a small wiffle ball field for kids and, as Tony Gwynn’s name is prominently displayed throughout the stadium, a statue of “Mr. Padre” is the main attraction at the Park at the Park.
The Western Metal Supply Co. building was an original structure of downtown San Diego that the Padres incorporated into the stadium when it was built in 2004. The structure now houses the main team store as well as the Breitbard San Diego Sports Hall of Fame and the Padres Hall of Fame.
Just outside the entrance to the Padres Hall of Fame is a large display that features Hall of Fame players and coaches who have spent time in the Padres organization.
Go to the top of the building for several bars and restaurants. Each provides rooftop and balcony views of the field. Some of those balconies require special tickets, but there are a couple that are open to the public.
The Western Metal Supply Co. building even has a large game room area with a full bar and plenty of television screens to follow the game. We played a game of pool, which Patti won after Ron knocked the 8-ball into the wrong pocket.
From behind home plate, Petco Park presents a clear view of the downtown San Diego skyline. The harbor and convention center are just beyond the third-base and left-field entrances.
San Diego isn’t called America’s Finest City for nothing. The weather is essentially perfect year-round. There are bountiful beaches and parks, a superb public transportation system and plenty to do.
While San Diego is also an expensive place to live, there are some relatively inexpensive things to do like spending a day at the massive and iconic Balboa Park. The 1,200-acre park was placed in reserve in 1835 and used to hold the 1915-16 Panama-California Exposition. That led to the construction of the world-renowned San Diego Zoo and the park also houses several other museums like the San Diego Air & Space Museum and the Timken Museum of Art. There are botanical gardens galore inside the park, which has several buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a National Historic Landmark itself.
The San Diego Safari Park, formerly the Wild Animal Park, is an open-range zoo north of San Diego in suburban Escondido. To many, Ron included, it is a much better zoo than the more famous one in Balboa Park. San Diego is also home to SeaWorld, which is very close to the Mission Bay RV Resort where we stayed.
The waterfront has the expansive San Diego Maritime Museum and the decommissioned U.S.S. Midway, which is now a museum open to the public at a cost of $21 for adults. Nearby is the “Unconditional Surrender/Embrace Peace” sculpture depicting the famous scene of a U.S. sailor kissing a nurse on his return from World War II. About 100 yards from there is the Bob Hope Memorial to honor his work on USO tours to entertain the troops. Each figure represents a serviceman from a different conflict. Stop by and you’ll hear Mr. Hope delivering one of his routines to the troops.
The Gaslamp Quarter, which is adjacent to Petco Park, has a plethora of eating and drinking establishments to satisfy anyone’s cravings.
Trolley tours are one great way to see the city and get an idea of which sights to see if you’re a newcomer to the area.
San Diego has so much to offer and truly is one of the best places to visit in the U.S.