Prior to the development of Petco Park in downtown San Diego, what should have been the city’s most vibrant area
was one of the worst. Trash, gangs, abandoned buildings lined the streets. All the while, the Padres were playing their home games at the Chargers’ home stadium. And it was a stadium. To me, ballparks are different from stadiums. Stadiums are multi-purpose. They house a multitude of activities. Ballparks host baseball. San Diego finally opened their first true ballpark in 2004.
Petco Park was designed for baseball. Nothing else. Sure there have been concerts and other events, but the park is a baseball park through and through. It’s development in downtown San Diego, right on the bay, literally transformed the downtown area. No matter the cost, the tax increases, and the debt, San Diego will always be able to say the ballpark single handedly revitalized downtown. And that doesn’t even factor in the beauty that is Petco.
Let’s set aside the offensive woes for a moment. Let’s pretend the Padres are just starting play at Petco again – like they did in 2004. The Western Metal Supply Company building, a company long out of business that once supplied all the baseballs for the Pacific Coast League in its infancy, provides the foul line for left field. Downtown San Diego in all its new glory rises up beyond the centerfield wall. Above the hitter’s eye, the numbers of famous heroes in San Diego history watch over the game below. Petco Park is magnificent. It is well deserving of a 7th place ranking amount Stadium Journey Magazine’s list of best ballparks.
The modern ballpark is a throwback to the days of old. I think that’s what makes them so fantastic. Petco has an old school feel while being decidedly modern. Citizen’s Bank Park and PNC Park are homages to the old school parks of Pennsylvania. New Yankee Stadium is essentially Old Yankee Stadium with plush seats. Petco’s ranking as the 7th best in all of baseball is no surprise. The question is, should it have been ranked higher?