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Major League Ballpark Tripping in Midwest, Part One

Devoured three Major League games within four days. That’s after flying from San Diego to Milwaukee to catch two weekend contests against the Padres at Miller Park, and then driving a couple of hours the next day to see the young Padre team take on the youthful Cubs at Chicago’s Wrigley Field.

There’s more. Two nights before jetting to Milwaukee, Joe and I went to our regular seats at Petco Park to watch the Padres beat the Cincinnati Reds 4-2.

Whew! That’s a full plate for a couple of 68-year-old baseball fans. By no means did this baseball blitz bother us. We loved it.

Almost instantly, when baseball fans visit an out-of-town MLB ballpark, the comparisons to their hometown parks come in abundance.

Petco vs. Miller Park

Of course, the story leading up to a ballpark’s opening always differs.

Miller Park opened April 6, 2001. Petco opened three years later at 19 Tony Gwynn Drive near San Diego’s downtown harbor. Originally scheduled to open in 2000, Miller’s construction was delayed after three construction workers were killed in an accident.

In July 1999, a 567-foot crane lifting a 400-ton section of a retractable roof bent in half and collapsed inside Miller. An estimated 1,200 tons of concrete and debris fell, killing the workers and injuring five others, including the crane operator.

Jerome Starr, 52, Jeff Wischer, 40, and William DeGrave, 39, were in a cage that was being hoisted by another crane when the disaster occurred. Nearly all of the other 700 construction workers at the site had been removed as a precaution during the roof lift.

They have a bronze statue honoring the trio.

Last June, when we saw back-to-back Brewers night games against the Padres. During the second game, impending rain prompted Miller Park officials to order the roof closed. At first, it was exciting to us San Diegans. I believe Petco Park has been rained out twice since opening in 2004.

But once Miller’s roof completely closed, I flashed on the statue of the three construction workers just outside the park.

Petco Park has an all-around newer feel than Miller. The party atmosphere at both facilities is pretty much equivalent, but in far different ways. Milwaukee’s weather dictates more indoor entertainment while San Diego’s ideal weather allows for considerable outdoor venues. No dome needed in sunny S.D.

Sight lines at Miller were on par with Petco. Difficult to find a bad seat in either.

The primary video screen: Padres park wins hands down.


Conclusion: Petco wins. Check out www.baseballparks.com The website crowned Petco as the Best New Ballpark of 2004. However, San Diego’s only competition that year: The Philadelphia Phillies Citizen’s Bank Park.



Honorable mention:  the Padres was the visiting team at the Brewers and Cubs baseball temples.

A brewery giant, a pet food chain, and a long ago established chewing gum empire.


ON DECK: Our trip to Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs. How the historical Wrigley (opened 1914) stacks up against13-year-old Petco.