MLB

Welcome Back, Friar Faithful! Padres Planning Major Party as Petco Park Re-Opens at Full Capacity

Friars have big weekend plans for expected large crowds

On June 17 the Padres start a 4-game series at home against the Reds. Usually, a mid-week game in June against Cincinnati wouldn’t be all that big a deal.

This year, it’s gonna be a party.

For the first time in 630 days Petco Park will be open to a full capacity crowd.

“It just seems like an astronomically long period of time but we couldn’t be more excited to have the symbolic re-opening for San Diego occur here at Petco Park on Thursday,” says Erik Greupner, Padres C.E.O.

The Friars are calling it “San Diego’s Opening Day.” More than 40,000 fans will be at the best ballpark in baseball, the largest gathering of people in one place in San Diego County since at least February of 2020.

It’s going to have all the pomp and circumstance of your typical Padres Opening Day, with servicemembers holding that massive United State flag in the outfield, introduction of the starting lineups, a flyover, and post-game fireworks. This time, though, they’re adding something else.

“We’re going to hosting about 4,000 front line heroes, with a guest, to come out to the game on Thursday,” says Greupner. “We’re going to be honoring them during the game because, really, it was their efforts that have led to this outcome. We’re incredibly grateful for all the work that so many of our front line heroes have done.”

While California is back to something resembling normal the Padres are keeping several things instituted at the height of the pandemic moving forward.

“We’re going to maintain our enhanced cleaning and sanitization protocols,” says Greupner. “We have a dedicated Petco Park Clean Team that will be cleaning high-touch point areas around the ballpark. We installed touchless soap and paper towel dispensers around the ballpark that will remain. Digital ticketing and payment at the concession stands will remain, those are all conveniences for fans.”

The Padres are aware of the most current state guidelines on masking but will not have a mask enforcement team at the park, instead relying on the fan base to follow the rules.

“We cannot realistically try to determine who has been vaccinated and who has not at this point. So, it’s going to be the honor system. If somebody has not yet been vaccinated and they feel like they need to wear a mask to comply with the current state regulations then we’re not going to stop anybody from wearing a mask. We’re going to trust San Diegans to make the right decision to protect themselves and those around them.”

Thursday won’t be the only big event day of the week. On Friday night BeerFest returns to Gallagher Square (formerly known as the Park at the Park), Saturday night there’s a Padres Aloha Shirt giveaway, and Sunday there are several plans to honor dads on Father’s Day. For a full list of promotions click here.

For the Padres organization, like the rest of us, getting back to a packed house again just feels right.

“This is what we do best. You know, full capacity, it just feels good to be back to that. This is really, in a lot of ways, a relief for us to be able to get back to what we do best, which is host 40,000-plus at the ballpark.”

As of Monday afternoon, there were still a few tickets available for the 4-game Reds series, including Thursday. But, they’re expected to be sold out by game time (for ticket availability click here). The players and coaches have said they feel the energy from a mere 15,000 fans. Getting back to a packed house should be incredible.

Oh, and to add a little more excitement to the occasion? San Diego’s own Joe Musgrove, the Grossmont High School alum who threw the first no-hitter in franchise history, is slated to start on Thursday. That game starts at 5:40 pm and gates open two hours prior.

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. 

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