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  • Writer's pictureAndrei Ojeda

Petco Park - San Diego Padres

Photos by Andrei Ojeda, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.71

PETCO Park 100 Park Blvd San Diego, CA 92101 Map It

Year Opened: 2004 Capacity: 42,445


America's Finest Park

From 1969-2003 the San Diego Padres MLB franchise called Mission Valley their home. From San Diego to Jack Murphy to Qualcomm, the Friars had their share of memorable moments from Steve Garvey’s 2-run walk-off in Game 4 of the 1984 NLCS to the hitting prowess provided by Mr. Padre Tony Gwynn. The Padres would make two World Series appearances during their days in Mission Valley in 1984 and 1998. The Padres would make the move to Petco Park in 2004, revitalizing the surrounding East Village and Gaslamp District.

Food & Beverage 5

There is no shortage of dining options at Petco Park ranging from the traditional hot dogs to an array of fare. There are your usual ballpark options such as the Friar Frank, the half-pound Big Slugger Dog and bratwurst and local favorites from Randy Jones BBQ, and Hodad’s. A single bacon cheeseburger with all the fixings piled high is big enough to satisfy even the biggest appetites.

Recent additions to the menu are spicy fried chicken sandwiches from San Diego’s Finest Hot Chicken, acai bowls from Sambazon and locally sourced frozen popsicles from Holy Paleta, offering exotic flavors from lavender lemonade to pineapple mojito pops, sure to be a refreshing sweet treat for those hot afternoon games.

Cardiff’s Seaside Market has a cart located in the lower concourse on the third base side serving up some tasty Burgundy BBQ tri-tip sandwiches as well as a generous helping of Burgundy Pepper tri-tip nachos.

Petco Park offers a wide variety of local craft beers and microbrews. Among the options are Ballast Point, Karl Strauss, Mission Brewery, as well as your typical ballpark variety of Anheuser Busch/Budweiser products. If there’s one brew that you must try at Petco if only to soak in the local brew experience, it’s the San Diego Pale Ale .394. The brew is a simple Pale Ale that pays tribute to Mr. Padre, Tony Gwynn, and his highest season batting average, .394, accomplished in 1994.

Coke products provide non-alcoholic options with fountain stations located throughout the yard for free refills.

Atmosphere 5

Throughout the years San Diego fans and folks from Southern California have had a reputation for being laid back. With high expectations coming off last season’s deep post season run, the enthusiasm throughout the stands has been evident.

Gallagher Square, formerly known as The Park at the Park is a good way for the casual fan to spend a day at Petco Park. While a popular location for fans wanting to spend an outing at the yard and lay back along the grassy berm known as Picnic Hill, Gallagher Square tickets do not limit fans to just the grass hill as they are free to roam other areas throughout the yard.

San Diego has long been known for its military presence. Military exhibits are on display behind the lower right field stands should you choose to arrive early and view the exhibits. A statue of former legendary broadcaster Jerry Coleman, a former Marine Veteran, is located inside the right field entrance gates.

Tribute to Jerry Coleman, Photo by Andrei Ojeda, Stadium Journey

Sunday afternoon games bring out a strong military presence as one of the 4 branches of uniformed military personnel make their presence at the yard with the Padres donning their military themed uniforms.

Neighborhood 5

Petco Park Exterior, Photo by Andrei Ojeda, Stadium Journey

Since Petco Park’s opening in 2004, the vibe around the surrounding neighborhood has continually increased as more residency, as well as pre- and post-game entertainment and dining options continue to develop. The Gaslamp is the place many fans venture to with its wide variety of bars and restaurants. Bub’s at the Ballpark and The Blind Burro are some of the nearby favorites. Bar Basic, with its brick warehouse vibe as well as its signature Mashed White Pie, is also another neighborhood favorite a stone’s throw away from the yard.

Fans 4

Coming off the excitement of last season’s (2022) playoff run, the level of enthusiasm throughout has certainly been raised a notch. In spite of the Friars struggles throughout the 2023 season the locals continue to fill the stands and are on pace to set an all-time Petco Parks single season attendance record. The laid-back reputation has mostly been put aside, particularly when their long-time nemesis two hours up I-5 are in town.

Access 5

The downtown location of Petco Park allows for easy access, with parking lots scattered throughout the area. If you park in one of the further lots toward Broadway St and save some dough, the walk to the ballpark is approximately only 15 minutes. If you and your buddies want to do a little pre-game tailgate, Tailgate Park provides fans a small lot to grill, socialize and consume beverages before heading inside the yard. The experience at Tailgate Park is a bit scaled-down. Among the restrictions from your usual tailgate, the use of charcoal is not allowed on the premises as only gas cooking grills are allowed on the lot.

The SDMTS trolley is another option for Padres fans who wish to avoid the hassles of driving to the game with park and ride lots available throughout various spots throughout the city.

If traveling from points north of San Diego toward Oceanside, the Coaster provides rail service throughout the season to the Santa Fe Depot station where fans can connect free with their Coaster ticket on the SDMTS Trolley to Petco Park and back. Return service on the Coaster departs one hour after the last out or the conclusion of post-game fireworks. The latest Coaster departure is midnight.

Return on Investment 4

On most nights, you can get a “Park Pass” starting at $25. The pass allows fans to roam throughout the park without any restrictions. For games that aren’t filled, you should have no trouble finding a seat at the upper level. Otherwise for games where attendance is expected to reach full capacity the “Park Pass,” while still allowing fans to roam the yard, permits fans access to Gallagher Square.

Tickets inside the seating bowl for most games also start at $25 with a significant bump when certain teams such as the Dodgers or Red Sox are in town.

With crowds mostly reaching capacity status it would be worth the few extra bucks for a seat inside the actual seating areas.

Extras 5

Located behind the batter’s backdrop at the Gallagher Square, the Sycuan Stage is the first outdoor concert venue of its kind to be included inside an MLB park. Before ballgames, a local DJ spins beats from the stage.

A recent celebrated addition to Petco Park is a statue of Hall of Fame relief pitcher Trevor Hoffman. The statue is located behind the left-center field bullpens at Hall of Fame Plaza, facing the Gwynn statue, more than 50 yards apart at the Park at Gallagher Square beyond the outfield concourse in center field, thus, giving the thought that Trevor is throwing to Mr. Padre. The statue of Tony Gwynn has been a very popular meeting spot for years and the Trevor Hoffman statue makes for another popular pregame meeting spot as well.

Opened before the 2016 All-Star Game, the Padres Hall of Fame features a timeline of Padres and other baseball history in San Diego, as well as other photos and artifacts and an interactive video display that allows fans to view a profile of a past Padres legend. Outside the Hall of Fame at the Plaza are plaques displaying players in Cooperstown who donned the Padre uniform at some point in their career.

Padres Hall of Fame, Photo by Andrei Ojeda, Stadium Journey

The Breitbard Hall of Fame is located on the field concourse inside the Western Metal Supply Co. The building has a display of 153 plaques honoring athletes that left an impact on San Diego, both native San Diegans and those who played for a San Diego organization.

A bronze bust of Johnny Ritchey can be viewed at the Breitbard Hall of Fame. A native of San Diego Ritchey would be the first black ballplayer to break the color barrier in the AAA Pacific Coast League one year after Jackie Robinson would break the MLB color barrier during a time when MLB’s furthest team west was in St. Louis.

The historic Western Metal Supply Co. building, Petco Park’s signature feature, is nicely incorporated into the yard, located by the left field corner, with rooftop viewing available throughout most games. The building also houses the main team store as well as several suites and The Loft, a sports bar located on the building’s 4th floor that offers your standard ballpark brews and bites with several screens as well as pool and foosball tables. The Loft is open to all game-day patrons.

Bringing the little ones to the yard? A miniature playground and a whiffle ball field are there for your little ones to enjoy. Gallagher Square also operates as a public park during the day as well as non-game days. If you should find yourself at an afternoon game, the playground remains open after the game for you and your young ones to work off some of that extra energy from the few innings worth of cotton candy and ice cream consumed.

A plaza of retired numbers that once stood atop the batter’s backdrop can be viewed at the plaza inside the gate located at the corner of Tony Gwynn Drive and Trevor Hoffman Way.

In section 114, San Diego’s high school baseball and softball make their presence known. The “San Diego Section” features hats from San Diego County high school teams that compete in CIF (California Interscholastic Federation) play. The display is also accompanied by two interactive screens where fans can search schools and professional players from those schools.

Final Thoughts

Petco Park continues to play a huge role in the revitalization of the local area throughout the East Village. With a vibrant neighborhood and enthusiastic fans coming in droves along with one of the more picturesque parks among the 30, it’s no wonder Petco Park continually ranks high among ballpark experts in America’s Finest City.

View from Gallagher Square, Photo by Andrei Ojeda, Stadium Journey

As Petco Park approaches it’s 20th year come 2024, fans can expect some in-game enhancements, most notably the renovation of Gallagher Square.

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