I wasn’t expecting much from Petco Park. I had heard great things about San Diego, but their oft-middling team conjured up a middling stadium in my mind’s eye. But in reality, Petco Park is one of the most beautiful ballparks I’ve witnessed yet.
A Beautiful Stadium in a Beautiful City
Petco Park is located right in the heart of downtown San Diego, in the Gaslamp district near the harbor. We headed straight there from the airport. Since we were only passing through San Diego on our way to Anaheim/LA, we couldn’t stick around for the evening’s Padres/Giants matchup. We opted for the tour instead, and secured the last two tickets.
The tour started in the food service tunnels, where we saw pallets and pallets of beer, hot dog buns, and programs. Our first stop was the Lexus Home Plate Club—the stadium’s all-inclusive area for those lucky enough to score tickets behind home plate. Most stadiums have something similar, but what made Petco’s unique is that the windows along one of the walls look directly into the Padres’ batting cages.
From there, we headed onto to field, where the grounds crew was putting the finishing touch on the lawn graphics and Hunter Pence was already warming up in the outfield.
We hit up the home dugout, and Sarah stood on the top step, as if ready to make a pitching change.
As we were finishing up on the field, we saw a Jesus lookalike walking straight toward us. It was none other than the Jesus of the Postseason himself, Madison Bumgarner. He took a photo with a young fan on the tour before we scurried to catch up with the group.
From there, we rode the elevator up to the unremarkable press booth, before heading to the stadium’s unique “Western Metal Supply Co.” building in left field. When the stadium was built, that building was deemed a landmark and the Padres were unable to tear it down. As such, they made the corner of the building the left field foul pole and converted the building into multiple seating areas, including the all-inclusive Western Metal Rooftop deck to the Budweiser Patio. While taking in the stadium from the Budweiser Patio, several Padres came onto the field to toss around a frisbee.
The stadium offers great views of the San Diego skyline and the Coronado Bridge. What really sets Petco apart is the building materials and plants. The facade featured smooth stones mined from a remote quarry in India.
Petco Park featured many natural amenities that highlighted the SoCal culture. They offer $5 lawn seating at “Park at the Park”, an elevated grass park, which offers nice views of the city and stadium. Directly behind the centerfield fence is a “beach” where fans can sit/lay on the sand while watching the game. The park also seemed to feature every imaginable SoCal plant, but our favorite was the Jacaranda tree, a beautiful purple tree that was abundant in the area.
After the tour was over, we exited through the gift shop and walked down the street to Tin Fish for some delicious fish tacos. We both immediately agreed that this was one of our favorite stadiums, with everything from the location and view to amenities rating as top notch. Not only that, but the Padres finally have a decent team on the field for the first time in a decade. All in all, I rate Petco Park as the best ballpark that SoCal has to offer.
Summary & Scoring
Date Visited: Saturday, April 11, 2015
Game Played: N/A (tour only) – Padres/Giants played that night, and MadBum (who we saw) got rocked
Design: – Remarkable stadium materials, massive video screen, phenomenal integration of historical landmarks, and gorgeous application of natural SoCal culture. Deducted half a star only because San Diego doesn’t have a very distinct skyline.
Location: – In the heart of downtown, minutes from the airport, by the harbor
Concessions: – A plethora of quality restaurants inside and around the stadium. We didn’t get to try anything in the stadium but food around the area was great.
Amenities: – Unique seating options like the “Park at the Park”, the “Beach”, Western Metal Rooftop deck and Budweiser Patio.
Culture: – We didn’t get to go to a game but just the atmosphere of the design itself and team warm-ups screamed SoCal.
Overall: – One of MLB’s nicest stadiums, with a retro building down the LF line reminiscent of Camden Yards, a monstrous video screen and many natural SoCal features.
Let us know what you think of this stadium.