Chaos and Kanji is the blog where I write about my adventures through Japan!

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Friday, May 13, 2011

On Location: Petco Park

Each card will present a stadium or other baseball landmark I've visited. This is card number nine in the series...

The third and final major league park in Southern California is Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres. The beauty of this stadium may have come by mistake, as the original plan was to tear down the Western Metal Supply Co building in left field.
 The building has been repurposed with a team store and restaurant, adding unique character to the stadium. The public park beyond right field provides passersby the ability to see the inside of the park from the right field bleachers during the day. In fact, all the pictures featured in this post were taken in December 2010 - and all the photos that aren't on the "card" were taken from the publicly accessible area of the ballpark. Of course, this area is open only to ticket holders before and during games, and is the first area of the park to open, a whopping two and one half hours before game time.
 Looking from the right field bleachers through the fence, you can see the entire playing field.
 Even without a ticket, people arriving when there isn't a game in progress can see the entire stadium for free.
The right field bleachers are in the right field power alley, and during batting practice kids will be running around the sand chasing after balls thrown to them by shagging pitchers. If you look closely towards the left side of the beach, you can see a rail separating two seats on a concrete pad. I saw a few kids flip over that rail chasing after balls.

I took public transit (the Trolley) to the game, parking for free at one of the park-and-ride lots. I prefer transit if I can take it - it's usually cheaper and less stressful. The Padres have parking starting at $5, but you'll walk a bit. I did have one problem with transit - I think I just missed a trolley after the game, and I ended up waiting about 30 minutes for the next train. This to me is unacceptable. I would expect service to be increased to about 10 minute intervals or better for ballpark service. Increased service would also increase ridership at games.

The Padres had some interesting food choices, and most prices seemed reasonable for a major league park. There are some issues with getting around the ballpark - I found I had to change levels a few times to walk around the entire stadium. Signage seemed to be an issue, and I wasn't sure exactly where I was headed as I traveled from one "ground level" seating bowl level to another, or if I was actually still on the ground level at all.

While the view is beautiful, and the Western Metal Supply Co building and "park in the park" add nice touches, I can't help but feel that Petco Park is simply following the trend of building "classic" style ballparks. At this point, most new ballparks from the past 20 years feature brick, open concourses, a unique feature, and (hopefully) a nice view. In fact, Petco's brick came by mistake, and the view came after the park, with lots of new development (mainly condominiums) springing up around the stadium. Beautiful, for sure, when looked at from afar, but when you look at the details it's not as special. Don't get me wrong, I like the park - it's a nice stadium, and had a great time, but it isn't as special as Camden Yards was when it started this throwback trend (one of the few MLB stadiums I still haven't had a chance to visit).

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