Thursday, July 21, 2011

Five Ballparks in 2011: Petco Park

Part of appreciating the game of baseball is the appreciation of the ballparks the game is played in. Many baseball fans make it a goal to visit as many major league ballparks as they possibly can. Players, such as the Michael Cuddyer of the Minnesota Twins, document each park they visit in pictures and share them with fans. The fascination with major league ball parks is understandable. Each is totally unique and representative of the city it resides in. I have been able to visit five major league parks this 2011 season. I wanted to take the opportunity to share what I believe makes each a park worth visiting.

Petco Park- San Diego, CA- Home of the San Diego Padres

The first Padres game was played at Petco Park in 2004. The park is named after the San Diego based pet supplies retailer Petco. Petco Park is located in downtown San Diego so parking can be a challenge. Scratch that….not just a challenge …parking anywhere in downtown San Diego is tough. I highly suggest you buy a parking pass from the Padres to park in one of the lots across from the park. Same cost as parking anywhere else with zero headache.
When at my hometown ballpark in Arlington, I like to sit as close as I can. When visiting a new park, I like to sit at the very top, right above home plate. This is the best view point. Once seated inside Petco your view will not disappoint. The downtown San Diego skyline is before you and the historical landmark, Western Metal Supply Co. building, graces left field. The Western Metal Supply Co. building houses the Padres team store, private suites and rooftop seating. Batters face due-north and the San Diego Bay is to the south of the stadium, so you cannot see the bay from your seats. The bay does, however, bring in very chilly weather. No matter what time of year you visit Petco Park, be prepared with a jacket and pants. You ARE in California, but a shorts and a tank top will cut your visit to the game short. Trust me.
Home runs in the park are followed by fireworks and a recording of the fog horn on the Navy’s USS Ronald Reagan, which is at port in San Diego. Home runs hit by the major leaguers that is. Home runs can also be hit in the entertainment zone for kids located in the outfield. Also in the outfield is a grass berm with views of the field. For $5 you can purchase a ticket to sit out on the berm and enjoy an evening of baseball. You can also catch fabulous views of the game in other key spots such as the Knothole. The Knothole provides a field-level view of left field and is located at the back of the team store in the Western Metal Supply Co. building. Another spot to check out is the landing just above the Padres Premiere Club near home plate. Stay as long as you like and chat with super friendly ushers in that section.
Oh I’m sorry…you haven’t eaten yet?! Though I don’t give Petco a glowing review of sports bars or fun dining spots in the park, if you need a snack, hit up Anthony’s Fish Grotto. I actually know people from Dallas that go to San Diego each year just to eat at Anthony’s. There is a main Anthony’s location at the San Diego port, but this ballpark location should be just as scrumptious. If you are able to wait till after the game to eat (or if you have time before) you simply must head just down the street to the corner of J Street and 7th. There you will find Bub’s @ the Ballpark. Bub’s is the perfect sports bar. TVs everywhere, foosball, basketball court, and the best chicken sandwich in San Diego! Order the Archie Chicken Sandwich: chicken breast, honey mustard and buffalo sauce.
Overview: easy parking, great views of San Diego, a “park in the park” for kids, nice cool breeze, fantastic hospitality and the Archie!

The entertainment zone and "park pass" area with statue of Tony Gwynn

View from the Knothole in left field from the Western Metal Supply Co. building