The sights, the tastes, the smells! There's something about Padres Opening Day that just screams spring in San Diego. And for a few lucky fans -- 20% the usual amount, to be exact -- they'll be soaking it all in from inside a reopened Petco Park for the first time in more than a year.
But even if you're watching from your couch at home, in a backyard with your household, or at a recently reopened restaurant with limited capacity, you too can enjoy the excitement. (And, boy, do we deserve it.)
So grab a beer, slap a brat on the grill and read on for everything you should know about the return of baseball in San Diego. Happy Padres Opening Day, San Diego!
When is San Diego Padres Opening Day?
MLB Opening Day for the 2021 regular season is scheduled for April 1, 2021. The San Diego Padres will take on the Arizona Diamondbacks for a four-series matchup: Thursday at 1:10 p.m., Friday at 7:10 p.m., Saturday at 5:40 p.m. and Sunday at 1:10 p.m.
What Will Petco Park Look Like Now?
Fans entering Petco Park for the 2021 Padres season should expect a different ballpark this year. But with California slowly reopening, there will be some familiar sights.
San Diego County is currently in the red tier of California's Blueprint for Reopening, which allows for business reopenings depending on the level of spread of COVID-19 in the community. In the red tier, Petco Park can host events with 20% of its usual 42,000 capacity -- or about 8,400 fans.
In the red tier, only in-state visitors are allowed at live sporting events. Tickets must be purchased in advance and, for now, only season ticket packages can be purchased.
Fans that can secure tickets will be seated in pods of six or less, spread six feet apart. Masks will be required for those older than 2 and must be worn when not actively eating and drinking. Even Gallagher Square (formerly Park in the Park) will have markings on the ground for individual pods. The Padres want fans to enjoy the ballpark, but do so safely.
At the gate, entry will be contactless, meaning people will scan tickets themselves, digitally. Temperature checks will not be required upon entry, but team employees will go through health screening and have access to COVID-19 tests.
Payment for merchandise, food and drink throughout the park will be contactless through the MLB Ballpark app (which allows fans to add their card info), or through Apple Pay or Google Pay but there will still be an option to use a chip card.
Food and drink options will be limited; no indoor dining will be open and only about 30% of the ballpark's concessions will be up and running. On the list are some San Diego staples, like Pizza Port, Hodad's and Buona Forchetta. Fans will order concessions using the MLB app's mobile ordering for pickup or in-seat delivery. Even beer can be ordered and delivered to seats.
Hundreds of hand sanitizer stations will be scattered throughout the park and a "Petco Park Clean Team" will be tasked with continually monitoring and cleaning Petco Park during games. The ballpark will also be cleaned and sanitized before every game.
How to Watch San Diego Padres Games
Fox Sports San Diego, soon to be Bally Sports San Diego, is the carrier of San Diego Padres games. So anyone with a cable subscription that includes Fox Sports San Diego will be allowed access to live games via TV or through the Fox Sports Go app (soon to be Bally Sports app). The app is available through iPhone, Andriod, Apple TV, Amazon Fire products and Roku.
Cord-cutters may have some difficulty streaming Padres games this year. Since Sinclair bought Fox Sports San Diego (and is changing it to Bally Sports San Diego), their agreements with streaming services are slim to none. Both YouTube TV and Hulu+ do not have agreements yet with Sinclair.
The other way to watch, of course, is from a seat at Petco Park.
How to Get Tickets to San Diego Padres Games
Due to reduced capacity, the only way to buy tickets to Padres home games for the 2021 season – at least for now – is by placing a $200 per seat deposit for Padres membership on the Padres website. A Padres rep will follow-up within two business days.
If capacity limitations for live sporting events increase in San Diego County, the Padres said the membership deposit will ensure priority access to tickets for this season and be applied to a fan’s 2021 membership.
If capacity dips or fans are no longer allowed at the ballpark, deposits will be rolled over to 2022 membership. Details on Padres tickets can be found here.
Is There a Chance I Can Get Individual Padres Tickets For the 2021 Season?
Padres CEO Erik Greupner has said they are not yet sure if individual tickets will be officially available at any point during the 2021 season but he was hopeful that as COVID-19 cases drop and vaccinations increase, Petco Park could increase capacity.
“I would anticipate we might even be at full capacity at some point in the season," Greupner said. "I think that's a very distinct possibility.”
If San Diego County shifts into the orange tier, the max capacity will bump up to 33%. In the state’s yellow tier (the least restrictive tier in California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy), max capacity bumps up to 67%. And, even further down the line, if the county reaches the coveted green tier, it's possible full capacity could be a possibility. More COVID-related safety guidelines from the state’s plan for pro sports can be found here.
San Diego Padres 2021 Game Schedule
San Diego Padres vs. Arizona Diomandbacks
Thursday, April 1 at 1:10 p.m.
Friday, April 2 at 7:10 p.m.
Saturday, April 3 at 5:40 p.m.
Sunday, April 4 at 1:10 p.m.
San Diego Padres vs. San Francisco Giants
Monday, April 5 at 7:10 p.m.
Tuesday, April 6 at 7:10 p.m.
Wednesday, April 7 at 1:10 p.m.
San Diego Padres @ Texas Rangers
Friday, April 9 at 5:05 p.m.
Saturday, April 10 at 4:05 p.m.
Sunday, April 11 at 11:35 a.m.
San Diego Padres @ Pittsburgh Pirates
Monday, April 12 at 3:35 p.m.
Tuesday, April 13 at 3:35 p.m.
Wednesday, April 14 at 3:35 p.m.
Thursday, April 15 at 9:35 a.m.
San Diego Padres vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
Friday, April 16 at 7:10 p.m.
Saturday, April 17 at 5:40 p.m.
Sunday, April 18 at 1:10 p.m.
San Diego Padres vs. Milwaukee Brewers
Monday, April 19 at 7:10 p.m.
Tuesday, April 20 at 7:10 p.m.
Wednesday, April 21 at 1:10 p.m.
San Diego Padres @ Los Angeles Dodgers
Thursday, April 22 at 7:10 p.m.
Friday, April 23 at 7:10 p.m.
Saturday, April 24 at 6:10 p.m.
Sunday, April 25 at 4:08 p.m.
San Diego Padres @ Arizona Diamondbacks
Tuesday, April 27 at 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday, April 28 at 6:40 p.m.
San Diego Padres vs. San Francisco Giants
Friday, April 30 at 7:10 p.m.
Saturday, May 1 at 5:40 p.m.
Sunday, May 2 at 1:10 p.m.
As the 2021 MLB season gets underway, we will keep you updated on any pandemic-related changes that may change the way Padres fans navigate Petco Park.
Our NBC 7 SportsWrap reporters, Darnay Tripp and Derek Togerson, will also keep us updated on all things Padres on their weekly podcast, On Friar. Listen wherever you enjoy your podcasts.
LISTEN: With NBC 7 San Diego's Darnay Tripp and Derek Togerson behind the mic, On Friar will cover all things San Diego Padres. Interviews, analysis, behind the scenes...the ups, downs, and everything in between. Tap here to find On Friar wherever you listen to podcasts.