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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

LA Part III: Petco Park, San Diego

I'd like to be
under the sea
In an octopus' garden with you


For my "job interview" weekend on Saturday I decided to rent a car and drive down to San Diego.  LA allowed me to live my Big Lebowski dreams and now San Diego could whet my Anchorman fantasies so I had a series of Anchorman quotes in my head.

Before I left I had to make one very important stop.


The oh so famous In-N-Out burger.  I've heard so much about this glorious place and I just had to sit down and see what all the fuss was about.


I was there at 11:30am on a Saturday and it was packed like crazy.  In this picture here you can see that there's so many people that they throw out the order window and simply have a dude with a clipboard.  The car that this guy is at is car number 15.  It was crazy.

Inside there were a bunch of people huddled next to the front counter.  The line leading to the counter was about 10 people deep.  When I finally came up to the counter I ordered a double double (the other options were a hamburger and cheeseburger).  I had to take my number and wait.  The wait took 20 minutes and that's with about a dozen people feverishly making burgers in the back.  People were ordering 6, 10, 15 burgers at a time. 

When I finally got my order I tried the fries, pretty decent.  I then tried the burger which was okay at best.  I was a bit dissapointed with all the folklore I heard about the In-N-Out burger and I don't think it's anything to brag about.  I would say that Culvers is way better, I would even venture to say that a Wendy's burger is better.  My roommate told me about some secret menu but I really don't think any "secret menu" would change my mind about this joint.

After I stuffed my face I hopped in my car ('08 Dodge was okay but I wouldn't buy one) for my trip to San Diego.  On the way there I was giving off Anchorman quotes with a smile on my face.  I was super happy to finally go to San Diego. 

It was only a couple weeks ago when I was looking into plane tickets to San Diego to see a Twins/Padres game.  Plane tickets were $500+ and I wasn't going to spend that kind of money so I swallowed my pride.  The reason I really wanted to go to San Diego is because Tony Gwynn was my favorite baseball player growing up and I grew a bit attached to the Padres.  The Padres also have a new ballpark, Petco Park, which is supposed to be one of the best ballparks in the country. 


When I arrived in SD I walked around the Gaslamp district which has really new high-end restaurants and lots of high class clubs.  I was walking around everywhere to find a burger to eat but I had to walk a good 6 blocks away just to find a high-end burger joint.  Even at 4pm the gaslamp district had a certain hum to it.  The restaurants were beginning to crowd up and you could tell that there was a game to be played later in the day. 

Come game time I grabbed my ticket and asked for the best ticket in the place since the tickets were very cheap (about as cheap as Twins games maybe cheaper).  It was also cap day so I got a bitchin cap with my entrance to the game.


This isn't where my ticket was (it was over to the right a couple sections) but when I entered I took photos like crazy.  Petco Park indeed has an aura to it and just about everything about it is top-notch.  All the sight-lines are great, the amenities are impressive, and all the little things add up.


It became evident that when entering Petco Park you don't just enter a ballpark but actually a section of the city.  This is the public baseball diamond just beyond left field of Petco.  This is actually open to the public whenever a Padres game isn't about to start.  They even have those cool dirt paths that extend from the mound to home plate!


Beyond the public diamond is a grassy area for fans to picnic and watch the game on this big screen.  Fans can buy a $5 ticket and simply make a nice evening out of the game.  Kids can then either play a game on the diamond or play in the huge sandbox just beyond the right field fence.  I absolutely love idea and sure enough this lawn was packed when the game started.


Then they have this sweet statue of Mr. Gwynn himself.  Behind him are new condos and I think that's a gym to Gwynn's back.  I didn't look into what these condos are going for but I'm willing to bet that I can't afford one.


There's nothing that they overlooked in Petco.  One thing that sticks out is there there's so much space even during a game.  You don't feel confined to the ballpark.


The usher's were not nazi's either.  They practically encouraged me to roam around and take whatever picture I want where ever I want. 


Also, and get this, the seats actually face the pitchers mound!  I don't know if you can tell that easily from this picture but these seats are actually slanted towards the infield.


Of course the concourses are all open and the bathroom doors are nearly facing the game.  Like you could walk out and--boom-- there's the game.


They had tons of plants everywhere you go and I don't think I saw one ugly or questionable part of Petco Park.  At one point I was talking to one of the ushers and he was telling me all about the ballpark.  I asked him how the ballpark has affected the downtown scene in SD and told me that the downtown scene is simply because of the ballpark.  From what he said there was not much of a downtown scene before Petco and it makes sense because that Gaslamp district does appear very new. 

I know I'm very biased when it comes to ballparks but this new Twins ballpark should put a shot of adrenalyne to the Minneapolis scene.  It might not be the effect of Petco but there has to be added residual effects to the Minneapolis downtown scene from the new Twins ballpark.  That alone will generate more tax money and add to the Minneapolis experience.DSC01667

To the left you can see an old brick building.  This is the Western Metal Supply building.  It was deemed a local landmark and could not be demolished even for Petco Park so they used it as part of their ballpark. 


This is from inside the Metal Supply building.  It's actually pretty cool since it's so open.  I didn't get a chance to go on the upper floors but it's definitely a nice touch for the ballpark experience. 

Not to far from here is a beer stand.  The beer vendor yelled at me, "Hey, Twins fan!  Come here a sec"  I was wearing my Twins cap and I walked over.  The guy was from Richfield and we were chatting along.

Guy:  Oh hey, you might like this.  Check it out.
And he stepped aside and showed me this cooler full of Leinenkugal Sunset Wheat.  I was actually really surprised that Leinie's is way out in SD but it was a pleasant surprise. 


As for the game, the Mets were in town (no, Santana wasn't pitching) and there were a ton of Met fans there.  There was nearly a heckling match between all the met fans and Padre fans.


Padres won in extra innings and I was very sad to leave the ballpark.  I did hear that there were a bunch of mega hotties in the Gaslamp district and it was phenomenal people watching but I had to pass.  I had to go back to Los Angeles and catch my 8am flight. 

Petco Park was damn near incredible.  The pictures I showed you just scratches the surface of all the features it has.  Everything is in HD at Petco and the scoreboard is very well organized.  Also they give very good and detailed stats at the game--something that you'll never find at Metrodome. 

I do hope to someday head back to Petco because it was such a great experience.  It was probably the best ballpark I've been to that didn't have any novelty value.  I highly recommend this place. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I stumbled upon your page when my girlfriend googled me. I am Neil Lenzen a.k.a. Neil the Beerman. I'm the guy from Richfield who you talked to in the Western Metals building. Nice blog. Good photos. I'm glad you enjoyed Petco Park, and like you, I'm looking forward to the new Twins stadium. Drop a line if you want. I'm at I'd be happy to send you one of my Topps baseball cards. Take care. Stop by anytime you are back at Petco. I'm in the same spot. -Neil the Beerman