San Diego Padres: A Day at the New Park: Comparing Petco Park to Yankee Stadium

Apr 23, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; General view of Petco Park exterior. The venue is home of the San Diego Padres and will play host to the 2016 MLB All-Star game. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 23, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; General view of Petco Park exterior. The venue is home of the San Diego Padres and will play host to the 2016 MLB All-Star game. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Petco Park is one of the newest baseball parks in the country, but how does it differ from its east coast counter part Yankee stadium. Is it fan friendly and are baseball’s favorite stadium pastimes preserved?

Baseball has long been America’s national pastime. Going to the park is an experience like no other. Fans trickle into their home team’s stadium, look for their seats and then head to the concession stands to pick up food.

So how has the fan experience changed over the last 100+ years of baseball? How important are the stadiums in today’s game? Are new stadiums leaving something to be desired? If so how does Petco Park fit into all of this?

The Fan Experience:

In the past decade or so in particular, baseball has seen new stadiums being built all across the country. With these new stadiums comes change that some of baseball’s purist fans may not welcome with open arms. Whether it’s the development of major food chains within a stadium or an increased amount of corporate ticket packages, some teams fail where others succeed.

So what stadiums managed to keep that baseball purist fan experience? What stadiums corporatized too much and lost a bit of its luster?

Today’s yankee stadium is far more corporatized than any other baseball stadium in history. I’ve been to the new Yankee stadium and I must say it doesn’t feel like a baseball park so much as it feels like a museum. Don’t get me wrong. Museums are great. They’re educational, fun and an excellent experience for people of all ages. However, it’s not why baseball fans show up to a game. Fans want an experience where everyone feels like a unified group coming together for one purpose, to cheer on their home team. When you walk into a stadium and see too many plaques and fancy suits, you lose that feeling of camaraderie with everyone else there.

On the other hand, Petco Park has shown exactly what the perfect combination of old and new is. There are many reasons to love what is new about Petco. It has a small field situated behind the center field bleachers where fans can watch their kids run the bases. This field is often used during fan fest. I pitched to the kids that came for Fanfest when I worked with the San Diego Padres Rally Camps. It was fun for everyone involved.

They also have food chains situated throughout the stadium. Unlike Yankee stadium, this does not take away from the casual fan who simply wants to grab a hot dog and a warm pretzel.

The seat pricing is excellent at Petco Park. For $61 you can buy a seat within 20 rows of the first base line.  While this could be in part due to the lack of recent on the field success, the Padres have done an excellent job of making their ticket prices affordable for the average fan.

So what about the culture of the city? How about the transportation and accessibility of the stadium? What about the tourist experience for road fans who like to bounce around from stadium to stadium?

Yankee stadium sits in the heart of the Bronx. New York is a wonderful place to visit for a day. Take it from someone who lived on the east coast for almost 24 years.  Born in New York and raised in New Jersey, I’ve been to the city many times. I’ve been to the Bronx, Queens, the hustle and bustle of Manhattan, even long island. All of these places are great to visit for the road fan traveling in for a weekend of baseball. There are many areas you can see not just in New York but also in New Jersey. You could even travel to the Hall of Fame if you want to make the trek up to Cooperstown for a day.  Overall, the culture available to anyone traveling to New York to see a baseball game is excellent.

Petco Park sits in the heart of downtown San Diego. San Diego’s downtown area has tons of restaurants, beautiful artistic shops and many forms of community events that often shut down whole streets for a day. If you travel outside of downtown and head north about 30 miles you have beautiful slightly more upscale cities like Carlsbad and Encinitas. You can head to the beach and enjoy a day of sunbathing. The weather is beautiful year round with sunny skies and 70 degree weather. Disney Land is just a 2 hour drive away in Los Angeles while Seaworld and LegoLand are both around 30 miles from the stadium. San Diego is a great place to bring your kids for a weekend.

The Verdict:

Overall, the fan experience at Petco Park is definitely better than Yankee stadium. While watching the game you can experience a wonderful combination of traditional pastimes and new activities as well. At Yankee stadium the experience is not as impressive due to the corporative nature of the stadium.

However, both stadiums sit in the heart of a rich culture. While different, they both have excellent opportunities, attractions and activities for the traveling fan.