Opening Day 2.0 is almost here. Starting June 17th, Petco Park is opening up without restrictions and even non-season ticket holders can enjoy a ball game then. So what are the best ways to get San Diego Padres tickets and what are the best seats at Petco Park this season? As a season ticket holder, I am at Petco Park several times a week and love to bring friends along. Over the years, I found some of the best tips to get the biggest bang for your buck: The best seats, the best games, and the best places to buy Padres tickets. So read on…
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Who is ready for some ball games this summer? With an increasingly competitive team—one, many say, could finally break the longest active World Series drought in the major—there has never been a more exciting time to be a fan of the San Diego Padres, a member of the Friar Faithful. And as a faithful Padres fan, you probably want to see some games this season. So here are my tips for how to score the best Padres tickets and seats each time you head to the ballpark.
Many are familiar with Petco Park, that jewel of downtown San Diego, as one of the best places to watch baseball in the world. Like most stadia, however, its size and complexity can overwhelm the uninitiated. This is a shame: Nothing should prevent anyone from enjoying all this park offers. Thus, this guidance, built from dozens of personal game experiences, serves to make any visitor comfortable with Petco ticketing and seating.
Padres Game Times
The first concern is, naturally, “When to attend?” The Padres website, as well as many online sports columns, has published the entire schedule. While it is subject to change, mostly due to rain and Covid concerns, it very rarely does, thanks to the impeccable climate of San Diego.
The Padres rotate among homestands, played at Petco Park; road trips, games held in other cities; and days off. A given run of games can last anywhere from three days to two weeks, and games can take place any day of the week, with pros and cons for each.
Exact start times vary from day to day, necessitating a careful reading of the schedule. Generally, evening games begin between 5:30 and 7:10 pm, and afternoon games between 12:10 and 3:30 pm, although exceptions exist. In addition, several pre-game activities and traditions occur up to two hours prior to first pitch. While not related to the game, nor strictly necessary, they do add to the adventure.
San Diego Padres Game Days
Weekend Evening Games
Friday and Saturday evenings are the traditional prime-time games, featuring the best giveaways, the most exciting match-ups, and the headiest party atmosphere of all. These are always the more expensive tickets, although there are various ways to minimize costs elsewhere. These are the exciting, packed, raucous affairs where patrons happily unwind to blow off steam from the work week.
Afternoon games present an entirely different experience, and are hosted Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. The tickets are less expensive, and the games are far more relaxed, though no less engaging.
There is a laziness, a calm contentment that pervades the ballpark, making these some of the most enjoyable games on offer. Sundays are also family and military appreciation days, with discounts for those groups.
Some Wednesday afternoons have been designated Summer Skip Days, where workers are incentivized through deals and giveaways to call in sick and come to a game. I have yet to do this—my greatest regret as a fan—and look forward to attending one this season, if at all possible.
The nicest thing about an afternoon game is that it gives the option of still having an evening out. Once the game ends, at most four hours later, there is plenty of time to enjoy the rest of the city.
Finally, there are the weeknight games, given Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and occasionally Wednesdays. These are my favorites, without exception, for numerous reasons. Mostly, there is the child-like joy of being out late ‘on a school night,’ combined with the relief that comes from enjoying a fun activity with friends after a long day at work.
These games also tend to be peopled almost exclusively with San Diegans, as tourists prefer the weekends, giving ample opportunity to mingle with other local fans. Often, these are season ticket holders, who provide in-depth discussions on the team and its direction.
As a recommendation, weeknight games combine the best of the excitement of a Friday or Saturday night with the relaxed atmosphere of the afternoon games—and San Diego itself, for that matter—creating an exceptional experience. That being said, there is never a bad time to attend Petco Park, and all games are fun to enjoy.
Best Petco Park Seats
Once a time is selected, visitors must decide where to sit. Thankfully, Petco has no bad seats to speak of. This might sound like a marketing gimmick, but, as someone who has sat in just about every area, I can confirm its truth. Seats should be chosen based on the experience desired, and all types of spectators will find a home here. As with game times, there are pros and cons to each section.
Ground Level Tier
The lowest, ground-level tier of the stands represents the most coveted seats with the highest price tags. These give the closest view of the field and convenient access to both Beer Alley and most of the larger restaurants, as well as the Members’ Lounge, all located on the Main Concourse.
It can sometimes be difficult to see every aspect of the game, particularly plays in the deep outfield, but the two jumbotrons make up for this deficit.
Central Tier – Toyota Terrace
The central tier, the Toyota Terrace, presents many of the same benefits as below—such as proximity to great concessions and in-seat service—while being somewhat less expensive and giving spectacular views of both the field and the city beyond.
Halfway up the stadium, three stories above the field, fans can see every detail of play with ease, as well as downtown all the way to Balboa Park. This section combines the best of views and amenities. It is, in fact, where I maintain my own seats.
Upper Tier – Nosebleeds
The upper tier, disparagingly called the nosebleeds, is still an excellent place to watch a game. The seats are cheaper, allowing an entire family to reasonably sit behind home plate. Food and drink options abound, as in all other areas, although some stalls are closed for less-popular games.
This section can be the most fun of all: Situated significantly higher than the rest of the park, this area remains relatively quiet and open. It’s perfect for spreading out with friends to enjoy both the game and unparalleled views of downtown and is ideal for larger groups.
Field views are partially diminished by the distance, but the jumbotrons give plenty of close-ups during play. The area also contains the ballpark organ on its Eastside, where fans can meet Bobby Cressey, the Padres’ long-term organist, who frequently entertains (and even takes requests) during afternoon and weekend games.
Beware! Watch the Sun
One further consideration is sunlight. San Diego averages over three hundred sunny days a year, so sunscreen and hats are always recommended, especially on the home (East) side of the park, which lacks shade throughout most games. The Visitor (West) side is shaded most of the time, giving a somewhat more comfortable experience.
And although San Diego is a coastal paradise, it is very arid, and nighttime temperatures can drop twenty degrees in an instant. A sweater—and sometimes a blanket in the spring—is rarely out of place.
Park at the Park – Gallagher Square
Alongside stadium seating, Petco Park boasts myriad other viewing options, many offering unique experiences. The most well-known is the lawn at the Park at the Park, also called Gallagher Square. This grassy hill behind the outfield requires inexpensive tickets and is popular for picnics with children, dogs, and larger groups.
The game is viewed in reverse, but the nearby stage houses a screen that presents the televised broadcast of the action. These tend to be the cheapest tickets in the park, and space is available on a first-come-first-served based. There are excellent concessions nearby, and the area empties directly into East Village’s nightlife district following the final out.
Petco Park Restaurants and Bars
Other locations do not even require specific tickets, although one is needed to enter the ballpark. Some fans purchase inexpensive seats on the upper tier, and then watch the game from bars and restaurants in Petco Park.
These include the Still on the Toyota Terrace, the Beach in front of the Park at the Park, and the Loft in the Western Metal Supply building, and several standing sections along the Main Concourse.
All give incredible views of the field and represent a relatively cheap way to enjoy the Padres. There is a catch, however: Each location is open to all patrons, making it risky during more popular games. If going this route, it is recommended to arrive early to secure a good location.
Where To Buy Padres Tickets
There are many locations that offer Padres tickets. The easiest—and the best way to ensure legitimacy—is through the MLB website, or by calling their ticket office. The site offers an easy point-and-click interface showing the entire park, which simplifies seat comparison and selection.
Alternatively, third-party sites exist that sell tickets in a secondary market. The best option is Ticketmaster, which has partnered with Petco Park to sell unused members’ tickets. Many season ticket holders sell tickets they cannot use this way, including myself and it is a great place to score last-minute Padres tickets. Posters set their own prices, potentially very different from those listed by Petco, although this is not always a negative. When using Ticketmaster, sometimes fans can grab tickets very cheaply minutes before the first pitch, or even during the first few innings. There is the risk of missing out entirely, but tickets rarely sell out.
Padres Group Ticket Sales
Large numbers of tickets can be purchased through the aforementioned venues, but the best method for Group sales is through the Padres ticket office. There, either regular seats can be purchased at a discount, or a group can reserve special sections sprinkled around the ballpark. These packages can even include other amenities, such as food or beverage service and game mementos, depending on the desired location.
Specialty boxes and suites are found on each of the three tiers, and come with various options for personalization. There are also more unique areas, such as the Roof or Rail of the Western Metal Supply building, the Estrella Jalisco Landing below the jumbotron, and the lower level of the Still on the Toyota Terrace. Each section makes for a memorable experience, and all details are found through the Padres Ticket Office.
Padres Season Tickets
Padres season tickets represent the ultimate in fan support of the Padres, and can be a daunting enterprise worthy of their own full-length discussion. In brief, packages are available in all tiers, and can consist of full- (81 games), half- (40), or quarter-season (20) sets. Certain packages are restricted to specific sections, with the larger and more expensive ones centered on the lower level behind home plate.
Prices can range from about five hundred dollars for a quarter-season on the upper deck to truly incredible amounts in the nicest suites. This may seem like a log upfront, but the per-ticket cost is very reasonable, often much lower than for single games.
Some fans purchase a ticket package as a group and alternate attending games in order to spread out the cost. This is a primary benefit of membership—although there are many, many more—and they are great for oft-returning fans.
Admittedly, they are a large commitment, and should not be undertaken without due consideration. You can read more about San Diego Padres Season Tickets here>>
Final tips on how to get the best Padres Tickets and Seats
Catching a game at Petco Park really is as simple as finding a location and purchasing tickets. With so many ways to enjoy the place, it’s up to a visitor what makes the best combination. As a friend once told me, “The best seat in the house is the one you like.”
Whether visiting for a day or the season, this guide provides the tools to fully enjoy any time spent at Petco Park, undeterred by the challenges.
As a final note, if any confusion lingers, do not hesitate to contact the stadium staff or visit the ticket office on 12th Avenue with questions. There are no more friendly workers, nor more intense Padres fans, than those that the Park.
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Last Updated on June 9, 2021 by Maria Haase