Not many will argue PETCO’s beauty. The design, incorporating an old warehouse and a beach area for kids, make it one of baseball’s best parks. The San Diego skyline lights the night sky beyond the outfield walls. Tony Gwynn proudly looks on, forever enshrined on the lawn of the concourse. It’s a great place to watch a game, but just how much has it helped the Padres?
The Padres played from 1969 through 2003 at Qualcomm Stadium (which formerly carried the names Jack Murphy Stadium and San Diego Stadium). They had some success at their old park, going to the postseason three times, but they also had more failure than seems fair for any one team. However, the discussion regarding how much a park has helped a team goes beyond the wins and losses. It must encompass wins and losses, runs scored, runs against, play-off appearances, and attendance.
In 34 seasons playing Mission Valley, the Padres averaged 74.24 wins per season. In eight seasons downtown, the Padres averaged 80.63 wins per season. While the PETCO sample size is still pretty small, the Padres have tacked on 6.39 wins since moving to their new, expansive park.
Let’s move on to runs scored and runs against. In the Qualcomm/Jack Murphy/San Diego Stadium days, the Padres averaged 630.71 runs per season. They averaged a disappointing 698 runs against during that same time. Once moving to PETCO, the Padres narrowed the gap between runs for and runs against quite a bit. They averaged 682.13 runs per season and 687.63 runs against.
Play-off appearances are a little easier to track. Between 1969 and 2003, the Padres went the postseason three times. They made it to the World Series in 1984 and 1998. They got knocked out of the Division Series in 1996. Already in their first seasons at PETCO, the Padres have made the postseason twice. They won the National League West in back-to-back seasons, 2005 and 2006. They were one game short in 2007 and 2010.
Finally, let’s examine attendance. They averaged a season attendance total of 1,547,308 in 34 years at their old park. They averaged 19,380 per game. In the eight seasons at PETCO, the Padres have averaged 2,494,788. fans per season. Their per game total has be 30,800. Obviously, the team has seen a marked improvement, but they teams of old were hindered by the less than enthusiastic crowds still warming to a Major League team in San Diego. Also, attendance at baseball games was less overall in the 60′s and 70′s. For that reason, it’s important to review their attendance finishes verse the rest of the league. At the old stadium the Padres ranked dead last in attendance eight times. They have never finished at the bottom in their time at PETCO.
All combined, the moved to PETCO park has improved the franchise. Whether that improvement continues will have to be seen. However, it seems the combination of park location, large outfield, and additional attendance revenue has helped the Padres put together better teams, teams that have been able to compete for the most part.
Hail to the park.