A Signature San Diego Ballpark Experience From Autograph Alley to Picnic Hill

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Thursday, January 27, 2000

The San Diego Padres today unveiled the design and artist’s rendering of “The Park at the Park,” a signature of the city’s new downtown ballpark.

With an open area longer than a football field and about as wide, the eight-acre park will have at least three categories of use. On Padres home game days, the grassy venue is expected to be a lively, animated, colorful scene of activity with food, fun and fanfare, and the vantage point from which approximately 3,500 people can watch the game.

When the Padres aren’t playing, the park will serve as a venue for special events, including Summer Pops concerts and corporate outings for San Diegans and conventioneers. The retail and office development at the perimeter of the park will be a year-round shopping, dining and entertainment destination and a focal point of the 26-block Ballpark District.

And when not serving as the site of a big event, the park at rest will be a friendly neighborhood park where residents, workers, and visitors can sip a cup of coffee, read a book under a tree, enjoy quiet time or a family game of Frisbee.

“We wanted to create a beautiful, intimate park for this new downtown neighborhood,” said Larry Lucchino, the Padres President and C.E.O. “It should not only be a signature of the ballpark, but a symbol of the revitalization of an area where such an amenity seemed an impossible dream just a few years ago.

“Many features of the park were suggested by fans in our ‘California Dreamin’’ sessions, and now we’re yet another step closer to California Dreamin’ becoming a reality.”

At the request of fans, the Padres’ bullpen will be situated in the Park at the Park, creating a vantage point for up-close viewing of pitchers warming up and an “autograph alley” where players will interact with fans before games and at other designated times.

“The Park at the Park will offer fans and families a whole new experience geared to the casual, participatory lifestyle of America’s Finest City,” said award-winning San Diego landscape architect Andrew Spurlock, Principal of Spurlock Poirier, who teamed with internationally-acclaimed design and sports architects. “An integral design objective was to ‘put the park back in ballpark.’ The Park at the Park is a key to making the Ballpark District a thriving, year-round destination for residents of the region and tourists.”

“The Park at the Park will be the new benchmark by which other ballparks are measured,” said Joe Spear, Senior Designer for HOK Sport. “I believe that because of this park, ballparks in the future will include this kind of element. I think it’s going to be a great community asset. I think it’s a winner.”

Located directly beyond the outfield wall, the Park at the Park will have Lawn Amphitheater and picnic seating for ballgames that will bring a popular aspect of spring training to a major-league ballpark. Lawn chairs, picnic tables and blankets will be available. Gates will open early and close late. Admission to the Park at the Park on game days has already been established $5 as part of the Padres’ SAFE (Saving Affordable Family Entertainment) program.

“Although local parks have been associated with baseball for more than a century, no recent major-league ballpark has contained a grassy area or park designed as a spectator vantage point,” Lucchino said. “The Park at the Park will be a place where families can make watching baseball, including batting practice, part of an affordable, full-day outing. It will remind fans of baseball’s pastoral roots, but they will have easy access to modern amenities and comforts.

“There will be a Little League infield and other ‘cool’ features and structured recreation areas, plus versatile open spaces,” Lucchino added. “The Park at the Park also has been designed to cater to the natural tendency of baseball fans to be ‘ballpark wanderers.’ One innovative design element, the ‘Ballpark Cruise,’ will encourage fans to leave the seating bowl via pedestrian bridges and stroll through the Park at the Park, enjoying the atmosphere and the varied dining, retail and entertainment experiences there before, during and after games.”

Landscaping will feature colorful, terraced gardens and trees representative of the San Diego-Baja California region. The trees will include 19 Palms, honoring native son Ted Williams, the first Padres player ever to wear the uniform number 19 (for the Pacific Coast League Padres in 1936), and transplanted favorite son Tony Gwynn, who will be the last to wear 19. The history and tradition of baseball in San Diego also will be celebrated in a Padres Hall of Fame.

Interactive elements will encourage participation by people of all ages in a variety of activities, from a Tot Lot and Kids’ Entertainment Zone to “The Beach,” where fans can play volleyball on real San Diego sand.

Retail and office development totaling approximately 480,000 square feet will frame the Park, forming three sides of an open square, with a grassy space in the middle and the “K Street Corridor,” an active pedestrian thoroughfare, constituting the fourth side. Several historic buildings will be preserved, adaptively re-used and integrated into the fabric of the Park at the Park, recalling the character and heritage of the warehouse and produce district that thrived decades ago in what is now the East Village.

“Extraordinary ballparks become landmarks and points of pride for their communities, and we believe the Park at the Park will be a signature that distinguishes San Diego’s Ballpark as exceptional and world-class,” Lucchino said. “It will have a sense of history and a sense of place. Visitors and television viewers around the world will see this beautiful Ballpark and the Park at the Park and will know immediately that this could only be San Diego.”

Below are brief descriptions of some of the elements of the Park at the Park:

 K Street Corridor – K Street will be preserved as a pedestrian thoroughfare, approximately 30 feet wide and more than 700 feet long, that extends through the heart of the Park at the Park. It will link the entrances to the park at 7th Avenue, near the Gaslamp Quarter, and 10th Avenue, near the Kids’ Entertainment Zone, in a kind of street fair.

 Picnic Hill -- This gently sloped lawn area will accommodate more than 2,000 fans for games and has outstanding views of the large video board on the back of the “Batter’s Eye.”

 Lawn Amphitheater -- This terraced, grassy seating section for approximately 900 fans will have fixed benches for viewing the game.

 The Beach -- Located between the front row of the Amphitheater seating section and the right-center field fence, this sandy area will have beach chair seating and a court suitable for beach volleyball games.

 Picnic Terraces -- Directly above the Padres bullpen will be a terraced area with picnic table seating for approximately 200.

 Ballpark Cruise – Take a stroll completely around the ballpark, a 360-degree tour, on this unique and comfortable concourse.

 Padres Hall of Fame -- Located adjacent to the renovated Western Metal Supply Co. Building, the Padres Hall of Fame will showcase great players and moments in San Diego’s baseball history.

 Little League Infield -- Complete with 60-foot base paths and a full-size pitcher’s mound, this will be a “Field of Dreams” for youngsters (and young-at-heart grown-ups) right next to a major-league ballpark.

 Tot Lot -- This outdoor play area for tots and toddlers will serve the redeveloped East Village neighborhood year-round.

 Kids Zone – Just under the right field stands at the corner of the Park, kids can enjoy the best games and baseball activities year-round.

 Randy Jones Barbecue -- An expanded version of the popular barbecue stand operated by the Padres’ first Cy Young Award winner and Hall of Famer will be located on K Street behind the Batter’s Eye. It will include a picnic area with outstanding views of a video board.

 Color Video Board -- A 15-by-20-foot video board, located on the back of the Batter’s Eye, will show live game action and special programming on game and non-game days.

 Padres Bullpen – The Padres’ bullpen, just beyond the fence in left-center, will let fans see Trevor Hoffman and his bullpen mates up close.

 Autograph Alley – The Padres’ Bullpen will double as a built-in site where fans can seek autographs before the game and kids can approach their heroes.

 19 Palms – 19 palm trees will honor Ted Williams, the first to ever wear 19 for the Padres (1936), and Tony Gwynn, who will be the last.

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