Petco Park a Weekend Hit

40,106. That number will now go into the history books as the largest attendance ever for a college baseball game. Tony Gwynn's San Diego State Aztecs took the field against the University of Houston in the first game ever at Petco Park, and walked off with a 4-0 win. This game was a chance for the people of San Diego to check out the brand new park, while letting the Padres work out all of the kinks before opening day on April 8.

There were many Petco firsts in the Aztecs win, including the first strikeout by the star of the game, Scott Shoemaker. Shoemaker, a Granite Hills graduate, threw a complete game, 3-hit shutout while striking out 14. The honor of hitting the first home run at Petco went to Aztec first baseman Rielly Embree, who took a fifth inning pitch into the right field porch. The home run gave the Aztecs a four run lead, which was more than enough for Shoemaker.

While there was a baseball game going on, many of the fans in attendance were at the game to check out the Padres new home for 2004. The stadium, located downtown, has all the features of a new stadium, while still incorporating the feel of a historic ballpark. The Western Metal Supply building in left field puts some of San Diego's history at the forefront and the seats sticking out give it a spark like Wrigley Field. Some of the new features include the best sight lines in baseball today, with spacious seats angled towards the playing field. The large scoreboard and video screen stand out boldly making it easy for most of the fans to see. The grass was freshly cut and was in great condition and having the seats closer to the field enables a fan to see the players up close. Petco Park was a big hit and a definite upgrade from Qualcomm Stadium. But this game was a test run.

As with any test run there were some glitches. For months now, the trolley has been advertised as the best way to get into downtown. Yet, it seemed as if the transportation company did not know there was a major event happening. The trains were in limited supply and people were packed in like sardines for an extended amount of time. Long lines seemed like a trend on Petco's first trial run. The concession stand lines were probably the biggest complaint of the night. Fans waiting in line for a beer and an order of nachos could find themselves waiting for 25 minutes.

The Padres say that these problems will be fixed by opening day with more concession stands being opened and giving the workers a little more experience. By April 8, 2004, Petco Park will be ready for an awesome Padre season.

Matt Johnson can be reached at

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