Somewhere back in the 1980s, I took my kids to a San Diego Padres game when the Giants were in town. This was by design, and also happened to coincide with the Giants Fan Club taking their annual trip to San Diego. We purchased seats in the same section, though we arranged our own flights and hotel. The game was held in old Jack Murphy Stadium out in Mission Valley. We also went to the San Diego Zoo, and Sea World to see Shamu.
Tonight and tomorrow’s games are being held at the relatively new Petco Park in downtown San Diego. Petco opened in 2004, and is named for the retail pet supplier (based in San Diego) who paid for the corporate naming rights. Can you imagine? One of these days a company with a dreadful name is going to pay for naming rights. I can imagine really bad ones, like Waste Management Park, or Craig’s List Coliseum, or Odor Eaters Stadium. Anyway, this is my first visit to Petco.
Petco Park is located between 7th and 10th Avenues, just south of J Street. The southern side is bordered and served by the San Diego Trolley. The construction cost was $450 million funded by redevelopment money for the downtown area. Seating capacity is 42,445. The official address is 19 Tony Gwynn Way, after the long time Padres outfielder, who was an eight time National League batting champion.
Though the downtown area was well on its way to redevelopment, Petco has helped solidify the downtown area as a destination. For me, I can walk between my hotel and the stadium. Both the Gaslamp Quarter and Horton Plaza are easy walking distance. The San Diego Convention Center is located adjacent to the stadium. I may not rent a car since parking each day costs more than the car rental itself! End result is plenty to see, do, eat, drink, and walk.
The San Diego Chicken, first of the real team mascots in baseball
The San Diego Padres were formed back in 1969 as an expansion team. They have won only two National League pennants, losing both times in the World Series of 1984, and 1998. Aside from Gwynn, the other big stars were Dave Winfield, Randy Jones, Trevor Hoffman, Steve Garvey, and Nate Colbert. Other stars who moved on to or from other teams were Ozzie Smith, Graig Nettles, Willie McCovey, Goose Gossage, and Roberto Alomar.
But I will always remember the Padres for two things. One was the ownership of McDonald’s own Ray Kroc. The second is the crazy team mascot, the San Diego Chicken, played by Ted Giannoulas. His success as a mascot led many other teams in major sports to adopt a mascot. As for Ray Kroc, he owned the Padres from 1974 to 1984. He joined McDonald’s in 1954 and built it into the world’s most successful fast food operation.
Now for one final point or question. Should I wear my Giant’s cap, or is this another Dodger Stadium in disguise? Donna, my sports wife, votes for the SF Giants 2010 World Champions cap. I agree. In fact, I think there were considerably more Giants fan at the game both days than Padres fans! I even wore my orange T-shirt the second day. BTW, my hotel, The Indigo is only two blocks from Petco Park and the Trolley Line. Giants won two of three!