San Diego Excited For Padres Opening Day, Some Fans Back In Stands
The San Diego Padres began its 2021 season Thursday, welcoming fans into the stands at Petco Park for the first time in more than a year-and-a-half.
Coming off of a second-place finish in the National League West in the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season, optimism is high for an even better 2021 season.
Long-time Padres fan and season ticket holder Mario Rodriguez was one of the lucky San Diegans to snag a seat in the ballpark. He said that his dedication to the team made him worthy of a ticket for Opening Day.
“Being that some of the fans aren't going to be able to come in here, I feel good. I feel lucky,” Rodriguez said. “My seat’s right there waiting for me. It has my name on it and I earned it.”
Thursday’s home opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks only allowed for 8,400 fans in the stands, or 20% of the ballpark's capacity, due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The ticket capacity and excitement for the team have caused soaring ticket prices which have ranged from $200 to $2,000, with season ticket holders getting priority.
For Padres fans like Glenn Favor, who couldn't get into the ballpark, Opening Day celebrations extended beyond the stadium. He sat with friends at a busy restaurant-bar called Social Tap, which has a partial view into the ballpark, to enjoy the game.
“Even though we're not in the park, it’s OK. We are still amongst the Padres fans, we are still together. And it’s not just a game to us anymore, it's an annual tradition for us and we needed to be here,” Favor said.
For those who got seats inside Petco Park, rows had been blocked off and seats were grouped in pods. And fans didn’t line up at concession stands, but ordered food and drink from an app.
As the season goes on, San Diego could see more fans at Petco Park and other outdoor venues. In the orange tier, capacity will bump up to 33%. In the yellow tier, capacity will increase to 67%.