If it’s taken you three consecutive winning seasons and two division
titles to finally jump on the San Diego Padres bandwagon, then you have no more
excuses to stop you from checking out a game at Petco Park.
Once again, the Padres find themselves in the middle of a tight pennant
race, battling the rival Dodgers and pesky Diamondbacks for summertime
supremacy in the NL West.
In spite of their mini division dynasty status, home games have not
exactly been selling out, except for the big promotion nights. This is no doubt
due in part to the lack of a big-name bopper in the lineup like a Tony Gwynn or
Ken Caminiti. But the Padres league-leading pitching staff still gives fans plenty
to get excited about.
Selecting a Game
If you are particularly particular about who’s on the mound, consult
the sports section to learn who the projected starters are before the next
homestand, and buy your tickets for the games that Jake Peavy, Chris Young, and
future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux are pitching.
If you need free floppy hats, T-shirts, and fireworks to get you out to
a game, then buy your tickets well in advance. Those goodies are doled out on
Friday and Saturday nights, while Sunday games always offer freebees for kids.
Where to Roam
Speaking of kids, if you have some or would just like to avoid them, be
aware that the “Park in the Park” grassy knoll provides ample acreage for the
younglings to run around and play. “The Beach,” a giant sandbox behind the
right-center field fence, is a great place to catch a homerun ball or get sand
kicked in your face by a 2-year-old, but is restricted to bleacher ticket
holders only during the game. Another family entertainment area dubbed the
Padres Power Alley, beneath the right field grandstand, features interactive games
and a batting cage.
Over-21 kids should check out the Hall of Fame Bar & Grill on the
fourth floor of the Western
Building—but they need to
arrive early to get a table.
Ever wonder how fans get behind that fence in the left field corner?
That would be via the Padres Team Store on the ground level of the WMS Building.
All these choice spots can be had with a $5 park pass, which also entitles you
to primo standing areas around the field level seating areas.
Where to Sit
For those of you who prefer to sit down during a three-hour baseball
game, expect to pay as little as $8 to sit in the aforementioned bleachers, or
as much as $48 for field-level boxes. That is, if you buy in advance. For the
first time, the Padres are taking advantage of procrastinators by charging more
for day-of ticket sales and even more for so-called “premium games,” like
weekend matchups against the Dodgers.
For your money, the best deal is the $12 upper reserved area, which
puts you pretty darn near first or third base, and not too high up—provided you
buy early enough.
If money is no object and you want to impress your honey with the best
seats in the park, season ticket holders legally scalp, or rather, auction off
their tickets at the Padres online Ticket Marketplace.
Prefer to feel pampered at a baseball game? Seats in the Toyota Terrace
($45–$65) come complete with seat-side concession service (spa treatments
Parking’s Not So Bad…
The Padres Web site directs you to several lots owned and operated by
Ace Parking with fees ranging from $20 to $8, depending on proximity to the
ballpark. Of course, there are plenty of other lots downtown and metered spaces
in the area are free after 6pm and all day Sunday.
Another great option: avoid traffic altogether by taking the San Diego Trolley,
which has two stops within two blocks of Petco Park.
Where to Eat
With so many options both inside and outside Petco Park
(too many to cover in the space of this article), you are no longer limited to
just hotdogs and crackerjacks. And while fans can bring sealed 20oz water
bottles and juice boxes into the ballpark, consult the other no-nos posted on
Web site ahead of time.