SDUnion trib wrote:PETCO PARK – This is not a dog, or a doghouse. It is a place apart. It is like nothing else in Southern California, certainly not in San Diego. And, given the way the Chargers and the City Hallers pull hair, we may never get a chance to see anything else around here resembling the Padres' new downtown digs.
Naysayers, take a look. It is spectacular. Downtown is getting something more than botox. A total makeover. It never will be the same again.
Here, the plumbing actually works. The sewer lines aren't breaking. The stands aren't sinking. It doesn't leak. It is damn close to a perfect baseball place.
It isn't just unique to San Diego. It's unique, period. Cookie cutters remained in the drawer. It is a spirited architectural blend of old and new, something done right for a change.
This is what former club CEO Larry Lucchino had in mind from the beginning, and after some tweaks here and there and some setbacks through nuisance lawsuits, it got done, even though Lucchino left town before his vision was 20-20.
It's close now. Yesterday, 94 days before the Padres are scheduled to play their first game in the ballpark, the franchise moved into its new offices. And there were dozens of employees moving around inside, mingling with the hard hats putting the finishing touches on the joint.
The office area is large and well-appointed. It's new, you know, and more than big enough to house the 150 workers not involved with on-the-field activities. A distant shout from the time before John Moores and Lucchino took over the team, when you could throw a rock down the halls and not hit anybody.
Dick Freeman, club president once more, served in that capacity from 1988-95 before leaving for the Pirates organization – and then returning in 2002. He notices the difference.
"My guess is that we've at least doubled since I first started here," Freeman was saying after knocking the phone off his desk. "I would guess there were 60, maybe 65 people in the front office then."
I met up with general manager Kevin Towers, who is trying to find his way around the office part of the structure, and he was kind enough to take me on the dime tour.
We entered the spacious weight room. All new equipment. "At Qualcomm, you'd be working out and it would smell like a grease trap," Towers sniffs.
The office manager Bruce Bochy will occupy is far from the closet he had at Qualcomm. The training room is equipped with two full Jacuzzis and a small swimming pool.
Just this side of the clubhouse is a sauna. "This will be good for David Wells," Towers says. "This could be his locker."
The oval-shaped clubhouse is enormous and state of the art. "There will be 13 TVs in here, all HDTV," the GM says. "And there's a separate interview room here. Players are going to want to stick around here."
Adjacent to the clubhouse there is a restaurant and lounge area for the Founders Club patrons who will sit behind home plate. Behind one wall are the batting cages, and the fans will be able to watch the players hit through one-way glass.
"They can see the players," Towers says. "The players can't see them."
Outside of this room, just above the dugout, these fans actually will be able to mingle with players. "This is something Larry wanted," Towers says, "fan-player interaction."
There is a video room right behind the dugout, not in the clubhouse, as in Qualcomm. There, players can immediately view their last at-bat.
But then you walk down the ramp into the dugout and look out, and it is nothing short of spectacular, the park itself, and the view beyond center field toward downtown. Planes are about to land.
The only thing that could have made this better would have been if the stands faced the harbor, but geography made that impossible. Still, in many spots, there are bay views.
Towers, doing a lot of pointing, motions toward home plate. "The shortest distance in baseball between home plate and the fans," he says. "Forty feet. Everything comes out toward the field."
As we circle the field, it's obvious that left and right fielders – especially those in right – are going to be playing a lot of angles, like billiards. It's 7 feet from the left-field foul line to the wall in front of the stands. "Outfielders are going to hit the brakes in a hurry," Towers figures.
Fans basically will be able to reach out and touch pitchers as they warm up in the bullpen. There is a sandy area behind the right-field fence, where beach volleyball can be played before games. A Diamondvision board will face away from the park, so those not inside can watch the games from beyond center field.
Space. So much of it. The concourses are very wide, unlike those at San Francisco's PacBell. The asymmetrical field itself is short at the corners, drops off to 411 feet in right center and 395 feet straightaway.
I wonder aloud if this will be a hitter's or pitcher's park.
"I don't know," Towers says. "I hope it's a pitcher's park, but with very little foul territory, it could be a hitter's park. I don't know how the wind will affect it, or being close to the water. It could be ever-changing as buildings are built around it.
"But, tell you what, it's going to be fun to come here."
Fun. Considering our pro sports teams, there's a novel thought in this town.
for one its a sea level and that ocean air will knock balls down, but all the foul territory is gone ... I'm guessing neutral to hitters park.