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Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres.
Virtually every seat in Petco Park is a winner, but some locations are especially desirable. The choices are a bit dizzying with no less than 16 categories at 11 price points. If you can find them available and are willing to pay, the top-shelf Terrace Infield seats are the best in the house -– sections 202-210. However, Terrace Reserved further down each line might be somewhat overpriced. For $5 less, Field Boxes put you closest to the action -– especially sections 101-112.

Petco Park is cheap-seat Nirvana. Take your pick – Upper Reserved down either line, Left Field Reserved – all excellent $12 seats, and the beach-side bleachers at $8. For day games, you will want to make a key decision between sun and shade. Pick the bleachers or Upper Reserved down the right field line – especially sections 315, 317 and 323 if you worship the sun. If you want shade, go with the Left Field Reserved (section 226 is best) or Upper Reserved down the left field line – especially sections 316, 318 and 324. Upper Reserved in right field also gives you the best views of the downtown San Diego skyline.

In a venue clearly designed to give virtually every fan a good view, it is difficult to deem particular seats as underrated. Every seat inside the two Tower Lofts is superb and fairly priced. Particularly good values are available in the Upper Reserved sections(especially sections 315-318 and 323-324), as well as Left Field Reserved section 226 located next to the funky Western Metal Supply Party Suites. Truly the most underrated seats, though, are the $8 bleachers flanked by the sand beach beyond the center field fence and the Park at the Park. This is the place to come if you have young children who enjoy playing in the sand, or if you crave going shoeless with soft grass cushioning your feet between the bleacher rows.

You can gain entrance to the Park at the Park for $5 and plop down your blanket on the grassy knoll, but for $3 more you can get comfortably formed bleacher seats near the sandy beach play area, as well as access to the ballpark’s many outstanding common areas. In addition, the Party Suites in the Western Metal Supply Co. building are fine for partying, but somewhat isolated for actually watching the game. One corner of the building serves as the left field foul pole. For the most part, the preservation of the old Western Metal Supply building works well. A team store is located here, and the excellent display area features an interesting history of area baseball and neighborhood archeological finds. Petco really invites fans to stroll around the spacious concourses, and a quick tour of the Western Metal Supply is a must-see. Nearby is the well-designed left field standing area where socializing with a beer and some ballpark cuisine come naturally.

If you have disdain for modern ballparks with quirks designed into them, you might find a few Petco peeves. The outfield fence has a large number of jogs, and its height fluctuates nearly as much as the Dow Jones industrials. The fence line starts at only 4 feet in the left field corner, 7 feet in left center, climbs to 12 feet in right, and drops to 10 feet in the extended right porch area in foul territory near the right field foul pole. The visitor’s bullpen is squeezed into right field foul territory, but home relievers can stretch out in their roominess beyond the left-field fence. Despite the many quirks, it all fits together with a consistent theme. We especially enjoy the “neighborhood” seating concept that allows for a human scale factor without the resulting isolation found in some stadium designs. In our view, Petco Park’s distinctive and enduring qualities far outnumber a few quirks that might annoy you.

Ultimately, Petco Park manages to accomplish the rare feat of catering not only to the fan focused entirely on the game, but also the visitor interested in the overall experience.