By Alex Owens
A local dishes on the secret spots around the stadium
Baseball season officially begins April 7 in San Diego, when the Padres take on the San Francisco Giants at Petco Park. The first pitch is at 3:40 p.m. and is the first game in a three-game series.
Those in attendance at the Friday game will get an “opening day T-shirt,” courtesy of Sycuan Casino; Saturday attendees for the 5:40 p.m. game will experience a laser show, also presented by Sycuan Casino; and the Sunday, 1:40 p.m. game will focus on the kids, with a Compadres Kids Signing, KidsFest, and a postgame “kids run the bases.”
No one is predicting the Pads to be huge contenders this year, but even if the team falls short, there are few better places to watch a baseball game than Petco Park.
USA Today picked it as the nation’s No. 1 ballpark last year, citing the weather, the many food options, and of course, the craft beer, as reasons why it’s above and beyond the competition.
The park is great as is for first timers, but savvy season ticket holders know all the secrets that allow them to enhance their experience. Here are some of the sporty secrets only a local really knows about.
Best place to stretch out in the sun: The “Park at the Park,” with its grassy knoll, is a great place to chill and enjoy the baseball park atmosphere. The seats are cheap, there’s easy access to food and beer, and there’s a giant big screen TV to make up for the lack of an optimal view.
Best place to get a soggy bottom: At night during the spring months, it’s common for clouds to roll in off the coast and drop dew on the grass at the Park at the Park. You may want to bring two blankets and lay them on each other.
Best place to get a foul ball: There are a lot of low seats in left field that are prime territory for foul balls, the greatest game souvenir known to man.
Best place to feel like a superstar: The balcony at the Western Metal Supply Building has just a few seats and everyone who sits there feels like royalty. People only can sit there for three innings at a time, so drink quickly.
Best place for people who really want to watch the game: T.C. Johnston, a lawyer in Rolando, recommends the Premier Club seats.
“The [tickets] are great and usually not much more expensive than regular seats,” he said. “The seats are padded, there’s more leg room and the servers come to you. Plus, there are always people willing to talk baseball.”
Best view for the value: The seats in the upper deck, section 300-306, overlook home plate, and as such, provide a great view of the game.
Best place for disabled people to watch the game: Alex Montoya, owner of A-Motivational Communications, recommends the left field grandstand.
“Disabled people love tables to place their food and drink and that section has countertops and chairs,” he said.
Cheapest eats: There is a hot dog stand on the east side of the stands near the Park at the Park that usually sells kid-size dogs for less than $2, and you don’t have to have a kid with you.
Best burger: Hodad’s has stands all over the Park. Their bacon cheeseburger is justifiably world famous and definitely worth getting given any chance, baseball game or not.
Best dog at the park: The TJ Dog served by Lucha Libre is wrapped in bacon and makes the ballpark experience that much better. Still hungry? Get their surf and turf burrito.
Best fish taco: For freshness, it’s hard to beat the mahi mahi tacos served at Rimel’s in Section 119.
Finally, the most important secret of all:
Shortest restroom lines: Some people swear by the bathrooms in the stairwells, but, if you have the nerve, you can try and crash posh areas like the Toyota Terrace and Premier Club, where the lines are likely shorter.
—Alex Owens is a San Diego-based freelance writer. He can be reached at email@example.com.