A Ballpark For San Diego

In 1998, the Padres not only won the National League pennant but “won” the vote of 59.6% of San Diego voters to pass Proposition C. The result of the latter victory is the current home of the Padres, celebrating its 10th anniversary this season; Petco Park. Though, it might not be unfair to say the former begat the latter. At the very least, it certainly didn’t hurt. Along with building a ballpark, there were provisions for developing the surrounding land to “revitalize” the eastern section of downtown San Diego. As well, there are provisions applying specifically to the ballpark itself. Last week, David Marver¬†shared a couple of pieces of information from the City of San Diego’s Petco Park memorandum. After looking at the memorandum, it seemed there was information worth discussing here. Let’s do take a look at some of the lighter material, with the idea of coming back to look at more in the future.

A Sports Arena For San Diego?

Section XXXI P started off the discussion, and it’s about the Padres interests in an NBA or NHL team coming to San Diego. According to the section, if the Padres were able to obtain a commitment from either league for an expansion franchise, or from the owner of an existing franchise to relocate to San Diego, they would have the right to negotiate with the city for the right to develop, own, and/or operate a new sports arena (subject to whatever rights the owners of whatever the San Diego Sports Arena is called these days might have). If negotiations with the city don’t lead anywhere, the Padres hold the right of first refusal for any agreements between the city and a third party. These rights actually expire this year, as they need to be exercised within the first 10 years of occupying Petco Park.

A Bowl Game For Petco Park? A Throwback Game At Qualcomm Stadium?

We would also need to make the stadium look like this again. Via Wikipedia

We would also need to make the stadium look like this again. Via Wikipedia

There’s roughly a million bowl games out there these days, and “baseball only” facilities such as AT&T Park, Wrigley Field, and Yankee Stadium are now hosting their own bowl games. Whether it being the idea of moving the Poinsettia Bowl or adding a third bowl game to the San Diego lineup, fans have occasionally pondered the idea of football at Petco Park. Sure, it’s not ideal…but they’ve hosted association football matches, so why not American football? Well, it’s prohibited. Section XXII C states that no professional or amateur football games shall be played at Petco Park. Pretty cut and dry, and likely protecting the interests of several parties in San Diego.

Same section also states that the Padres will play all of their home games in San Diego (whether exhibition, regular season, postseason) at Petco Park. The only exceptions to this are the right to play three annual home games outside of the continental US, as well as one home series (not to exceed five games) in Asia every three years. So, that rules out the idea to hold throwback games/series at Qualcomm Stadium. Though, one would think the upcoming home exhibition games at Fowler Park would be prohibited under the agreement. So, eh.

Speaking Of Qualcomm Stadium…

After the Padres left Qualcomm Stadium for Petco Park, it was within their right to maintain use of the then-existing Padres Store and ticket offices at Qualcomm Stadium. They were to be “appropriately equipped” for “patrons of Qualcomm Stadium to buy tickets to Padres’ games and other Ballpark events”.¬†Not only that, but the team was guaranteed 2,500 parking spots for fans to use on game days at Petco Park so. It reads to me like the idea was to tap into the crowd attending events at Qualcomm Stadium as well as having a convenient location for merchandise and tickets sales on Padres game days for fans wishing to avoid the congestion around downtown on gameday. Actually, that’s a pretty great concept.

There’s more to cover in the memorandum, but we’ll save that for another day. I figured these were some interesting tidbits for a Monday.

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  • The 2500 parking spaces are part of the trolley station, if I remember right. And those are available anytime, except when there’s an event (Local NFL Team or Aztec football games, for the most part) at Qualcomm.

    I wonder if this is the original agreement and they have since modified it, as there is pretty much no sign that the Padres ever played at Qualcomm anymore. The Local NFL Team took over the Padres Store and made it their ticket office.

    • VM David

      Yeah, you’re right. I blended together the part about there being a reasonable number of parking spaces to accommodate fans purchasing tickets on non-game days. *fart noise* to me.

  • SDPads1

    Garf actually mentioned trying multiple times to get a throwback game at the Q booked but was given the run around. I’m not sure if it was the city, the Chargers, or something else that kept getting in the way but something was making it extremely difficult to set it up.

    • A throwback game would be pretty cool at the Murph if a big crowd could be pulled. That stadium just looks hideous when there are a lot of empty seats.

    • ballybunion

      The Padres dugout wasn’t covered up like it is now when the stadium was periodically switched from Padres to Chargers, was it? The Chargers must have put in permanent field level seats that would have to be removed to bring back baseball.

      • DaveRiceSD

        Lots of moving parts in the football/baseball changeover – my dad used to work at the Murph and actually got me in as a kid in the mid-80s to watch it happening, which was like the coolest thing ever even though I didn’t understand most of the mechanics behind what was going on. Most of the seats on field level, including the extra sections they’d move out to the parking lot for baseball configuration, were on metal tracks. If they haven’t been permanently installed, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out they’ve all rusted together.

        I haven’t been on the field level for a Chargers game (or to a Chargers game at all) in years, but as of 2008-2009 or so I believe they were still using the temporary seats

        Throwback games at the Murph would be cool – tailgating pregame was one of the best experiences I had growing up, even after they banned baseballs in the parking lot and we had to play catch with under-ripe fruit (pops actually got ticketed once for throwing an orange at me while we were wearing baseball gloves). That, and I imagine the revenue potential would be a big plus for the team, which could easily sell an extra 20,000 tickets to Dodgers/Cubs/Yankees/Red Sox games (unfortunately to the wrong fans).

        And for the people who make/made Petco National Park jokes, remember Nate Colbert hit 38 home runs (twice) before they put the chain-link fence in front of the concrete outfield wall.

      • But that was before they expanded and closed off the outfield.

  • Geoff Hancock

    Re: the exhibition games and Peoria/Fowler park, my assumption is that MLB has the exclusive rights to Cactus League play. Since it is a “league” it likely does not fall under the definition of exhibition games as defined by the MOU. Moreover, any MLB requirement would have to supersede this MOU much as a federal law supersedes state law (think medical marijuana).

    These are simply educated guesses at this point though.

    • The best kind of guesses!

    • SDPads1

      LAWYERED!!!

    • VM David

      Excellent points.

    • Lonnie Brownell

      Agreed on the Cactus League games in Peoria, but I thought (and this is an uneducated guess based on possibly faulty memory) that preseason exhibition games, like the ones at Fowler Park, aren’t part of Cactus League play.

      If it is in violation of the agreement, I wonder if the Padres got a waiver to do this? Or not, and are just hoping everyone forgot. That would be so Padres. Then it would be up to the city to come after them for damages after the fact. Or put a last-minute halt/venue change for the USD games. Please, not that–I’ve got tickets to the first one!

      • Lonnie Brownell

        And…nevermind. Looking at the Cactus League’s site, games at USD are listed as part of their “season”, so I reckon they’re included. Even the games played against college teams in Florida this year are listed as part of the Grapefruit League’s season, so there you go.

        Whew.

      • Geoff Hancock

        Exactly. They’re labeled as Cactus League games so my assumption is they do not qualify as “exhibition” per the MOU. The game vs the Mexican league team however would an exhibition and if memory serves, that game was scheduled at Petco.