Ballpark Roadtrip: Petco Park

Petco Park is an open-air ballpark in downtown San Diego, California. It opened in 2004, replacing Qualcomm Stadium as the home park of Major League Baseball’s San Diego Padres. Petco Park is named after the pet supplies retailer Petco, which is based in San Diego and paid for the naming rights.

Petco Park differentiates itself from many other Major League ballparks built in the same era by eschewing “retro”-style red brick and green seats. The stadium is clad in Indian sandstone and stucco; its exposed steel is painted white and the 41,164 fixed seats are dark blue. The design is meant to evoke the sandy color of San Diego cliffs and beaches, the blue of the ocean, and the white sails of boats on the nearby bay.

The official address of Petco Park is 19 Tony Gwynn Way, in honor of the eight-time National League batting champion who wore that uniform number during his entire major league career with the Padres. A 10-foot (3.0 m) statue of Gwynn was unveiled on the stadium grounds on July 21, 2007.

The “Park at the Park,” a grassy berm sloping above the outfield fence, is open during game time, allowing fans to sit and watch games for $10.[28] When no games are being played, the Park at the Park serves as a free local park for area residents. An unusual feature that Petco Park once had is the home team bullpen is located behind the left-center field wall while the bullpen for the visiting is in foul territory in right field. However, both bullpens will be behind the left-center field wall after modifications to the ballpark are made prior to the start of the 2013 season.

The Western Metal Supply Co. building, a hundred-year old brick structure that had been scheduled for demolition to make way for Petco Park, was saved and incorporated into the design of the ballpark. The building was renovated and contains the team store, private suites, a restaurant and rooftop seating. The southeast corner of the building serves as the left field foul pole, and is protected by a strip of bright yellow angle iron.

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Ballpark: A – Clean and well kept, concourses were wide on field level. Great views of field all around. Beautiful area in center field where fans can watch games for $5 called “Park at the Park.” Located just beyond the right field fence, “The Beach” sand area is a unique part of the Petco Park experience. Sat behind visitors dugout, six rows up for $71.

Fans & Atmosphere: B – The “Park at the Park” opens two and a half hours prior to the first pitch. Gates open an hour and a half before game time. Had areas for the kids like a mini ball park in center field. Several fans stood outside garage to seek autographs from players hours before game. Found more visitors than hard core fans.

Food: B – Food choices include traditional ballpark food as well as several restaurants that include Randy Jones BBQ, Filippis Pizza, Friar Franks and Anthonys Fish Grotto. Had a foot long dog with spicy tomatoes and onions with homemade potato chips and water for $14.

Mascot: C – “The Swinging Friar” is the official mascot of the San Diego Padres. This fun-loving character pre-dates the Major League Padres, first serving as the mascot for the Pacific Coast League Padres. He was chosen as the mascot in 1961 and has become a Padres fixture. He is kind of dull.

Staff: A – Friendly security staff. Ushers were courteous and some were real baseball fans. The ballpark tour guide was kind of snippy when she was overwhelmed by questions she did not know the answer to.

Team Tradition: B – No real team Hall of Fame, retired numbers of several Padres with borderline credentials. The Padres Hall of Fame Bar & Grill is located on the fifth floor of the Western Metal Supply Co. Building with glass enclosed lockers with memorabilia of Padre stars. Team and fans acknowledge all veterans in attendance before the game after national anthem.

Location: A – Downtown San Diego, walking distance from downtown hotels. Some limited parking around the ballpark.

Photos taken August 16-17, 2011 using a Canon EOS-1D Mark IV Digital SLR with a EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Standard Zoom Lens, EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Telephoto Zoom Lens.

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