As a baseball fan, I still want to go all thirty Major League Baseball parks at some point in my life. I’ll even count the American League’s, even if I think their adherence to the designated hitter is an abomination.
Now, I only count a ballpark if I’ve seen an actual game there, and if the ballpark still exists as an active MLB playing field. The count so far is:
- Coors Field, Denver (naturally, since I live here)
- AT&T Park, San Francisco (my true baseball home)
- Safeco Field, Seattle (not a bad place for an AL park)
- Oakland Coliseum (can’t say the same there)
- Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles (icky but necessary for all those years I lived in LA)
I’ve actually discounted two – Anaheim Stadium (the home of the California/Anaheim/LA Angels which was heavily damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake and reborn as Angel Stadium) and Qualcomm Stadium, which used to be where the San Diego Padres and the Chargers played. Unfortunately, the Chargers just bolted (pun completely intended) north to LA this last year, and the Padres have a new home – Petco Park in downtown.
Petco Park: An Urban (Baseball) Diamond
And now I can add that one to the list. That’s because the Padres-Giants game was part of the ASTA Conference’s slate of activities, without additional cost. Would it be wrong for me to say that when I saw this on the agenda and because it was the Giants and not another National League team, I had to attend? Well, I’ll admit it…it did.
Unfortunately, San Francisco’s current season has gone horribly awry, for reasons that will baffle baseball pundits and torture us fans for eons. I won’t go into that sad saga, because there a people far more knowledgeable than I who eventually will, when this torturous year ends. But I still support certain players on the team, like this guy:
For that reason, I focused on the park itself instead of the game. The upper left field deck housed the ASTA private party, just to the left of the towering scoreboard.
From where we stood, the views overlook downtown, with a good share of them condominiums and apartments with balconies that offer a far outfield view. My guess is that most of the residents in these buildings probably don’t care about baseball (because, you see, it’s the PADRES), but there was one unit that proudly displayed an illuminated orange colored “SF” in their window. Despite this complete embarrassment of 2017, this San Diegan showed true fandom.
Following a new tradition
Much of Petco Park looks like many of the other new ballparks around the country that have appeared in the last 20 years. It has the “intimate” feel that a baseball-only venue brings – just you and your closest 40,000+ baseball pals.
We had designated upper level reserved tickets for our group of a few hundred…basically nosebleed seats. But I never made it to mine, because I hung out with a few Giants fans-travel agents on the deck. It was good to commiserate with them over a beer and some decent barbecue. Later on, I accompanied another agent (thanks, Natalie!) who needed to do some shopping at the Padres store. She also told me that an executive had invited her to one of the luxury suites for a travel company, separate from the larger crowd, and she could drop by.
A Taste of the Luxe Life
I asked her if I could tag along there. I mean, what was the worst that could happen? They’d let her in and tell me to scram? It’s not like I haven’t experienced that before.
But once we got to the box, we both could enter. The food was a few grades above what was offered to the masses, and so were the drinks and seats. It took the sting out of the inevitable Giants defeat, which we didn’t even watch to the end.
Bottom line: Petco Park is slightly above average in my MLB park ranking. It’s modern in a retro kind of way, like many of the newer ballparks, it offers some fantastic city views, and the food’s about as decent as anything at Coors Field (but not AT&T). Not bad for being behind enemy lines.