The Great Baseball Ride: Game 8; San Diego Padres

“Winfield goes back to the wall, he hits his head on the wall and it rolls off! It’s rolling all the way back to second base. This is a terrible thing for the Padres.”

– Jerry Coleman
Legendary Padres Broadcaster

Game day.  Today we visit the Padres (aka the Friars). I should say I, not we, visit the Friars as they are playing the Dodgers, and Dodgers fans travel to San Diego.  I kept hearing about how it was cheaper for the Dodgers fans to see a game in San Diego over L.A. I doubt that is true as this was the most expensive game I have been to.

With the wave of Dodger blue headed south, the game was sold out. We have not dealt with this. Keke saw that the prices were rising on Stubhub, so she bought me a ticket (at 3:30 am) in UB324 row 1 seat 1 for $65 ($80 something with fees).  This seat was upper deck left field line. We decided the rest of the family would opt out since the cost was so high. 

Prior to the game we went to church where our friend Chris is the organist.  It was a nice service, although twice as long as we are used to. A quick bite at a very good Mexican restaurant called Harvest in the La Jolla area, and we were on our way to the stadium.  Keke decided to drop me off and then the rest of the crew were going to join Chris and his family at the beach on Coronado Island.

Baseball in paradise! The had to make the stadium awesome to convince the people to get off those beaches.

I was dropped off near the gate and met up with a representative from the Padres.  She was with the Braves a while back and I was given her name from Walter Banks (Atlanta usher/legend whom I discussed in a previous post).  She agreed to take me on a tour of the facility, and it was really freaking awesome. Over the course of the tour I was blown away by here kindness and passion for helping the fans have the best experience possible.

She, very generously, hooked me up with a bunch of goodies (hats, commemorative book, beach blanket), then we started on the tour.  I got to see the behind the scenes of it all. I saw the loading areas, the player parking area, and the grounds keeping area.

I nerded out on getting to see the inner workings of the stadium.

She took me onto the field and I got pictures. Honestly, it was really weird being on the field right before the game with all of the people in the stands, but it was a dream come true.

Shoes on the clay. Had I had my glove I would have tried to stay and play left until someone noticed.

She then showed me around all of the cool areas of the stadium.  There was a suite right down the left field line that is a video game suite, complete with multiple screens, and a virtual reality set up; I’ve never seen anything like it. 

There video game suit in left, right down the line with seating right on the wall. Even though I’m not a big gamer, this was one of the coolest things I saw. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the fact that the guy renting it for the day gave me a beer.

There was a pet area where fans can have their own enclosed area with four seats, a doggy dish, and floored with artificial turf. Evidently, these seats sell out within two hours of tickets going on sale (could have been two weeks, but that would be amazing too). 

Lots of teams have a night or two where you can bring your dog. Buy tickets to this section (overlooking visitors bullpen) and you can bring Fido every game.

There were the Party in the Park tickets, in a public park that the Padres control on game days.  The area has a grassy knoll, a big screen to watch the game, a wiffle ball field, and other entertainment for kids. 

Wiffle ball in the park outside of left. This is a public park except on game day.

The park area has complete access to the vending in the stadium, and also has a stage in which bands that draw around 2k to 3k in attendance can perform at.  

The park during a Padres vs. Dodgers game was packed. Side note, the brick building (Bumble Bee Seafood) was moved to this location during stadium construction. I still can’t wrap myself around how they moved a three story brick building.

There were so many unique areas in the stadium that I cannot remember them all.  The same holds true for the food and the drink options. My guide generously bought me a burger from Hodad’s, a local eatery that has a few spots around the stadium. 

This burger was epically huge, and as good as it was large. The only bad part about it was trying to figure out how exactly to eat it! It’s a worthy problem to deal with. Hodad’s is so revered in the San Diego area that a memorial service was held at Petco Park when the owner, Mike “Bossman” Hardin passed.

In reading about the owner of Hodad’s, I saw the word generous a few times. You can see that in the portion size of the burger I got at Petco. This thing was huge and the pic doesn’t do it justice.
This is stadium food? I was blown away with the quality of and amount of food options.

There were numerous craft beer options, and also a favorite beverage called a Michelada, essentially a bloody mary with beer instead of vodka, but well seasoned.  Even though I am not a big bloody mary fan, I had wanted to try it, but the lines at every stand I saw them at were very long, so I chose to go with the Ballast Point Swingin Friar Ale. This is a popular enough beer at Petco Park to make it the number five seller for Ballast Point even though it is only sold at Petco. I understood the popularity as I really enjoyed it.

Only served at the stadium, and a must if you go.

My seat was very good, as I could see everything, I’d definitely sit there again, although hopefully for a bit cheaper price.  The game itself was also very good. The Padres went up four to nothing, then Max Muncy hit a 3-run blast, then Chris Taylor hit a 2-run blast and the Dodgers went up 5 – 4.  Keke came in the top of the ninth, so I had to leave. I shouldn’t have as Hunter Renfroe hit a walk-off grand slam to win the game for the Padres. Major fan fail!

We’ll be coming back to this park as there is just to much to see and do to take it all in in one game.  I would like to add that this is exactly what baseball needs to be now. With dipping attendance levels across the league, a stadium needs to be an entertainment venue beyond the game.  Petco Park accomplishes that perfectly, celebrating baseball, but adding another level of entertainment to the experience. I hope other stadiums follow suit.

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