Opening day at San Diego's Petco Park, April 8, 2004, ended with a 4-3, 10-inning victory for the Padres over the visiting San Francisco Giants. The day also represented a hard-earned win for the ballpark's Building Team, whose members, including 67 of the 68 subcontractors, stuck together to finish the project despite a 16-month halt in construction.
Voters approved funding for the $294 million project in 1998, and construction got under way in May 2000. It was 20% complete when work was stopped by more than a dozen lawsuits related to public financing and environmental issues. Not until April 2002 could San Diego Ballpark Builders, a consortium of Clark Construction Group-California, Costa Mesa, and local contractors Roel Construction and douglas e. barnhart inc., start work again.
The 1,144,000-sf project was completed three weeks early, to the delight of the Padres. "Not only was [Petco Park] the most controversial public or private project in San Diego's history, it was also the most heavily scrutinized project on record," said Charles E. Black, president of the Padres, who operate the ballpark under a joint-use and management agreement with the city. "Throughout these challenges, SDBB did an extraordinary job in keeping its excellent team of subcontractors together and motivated."
Designed by Albuquerque, N.M., architect Antoine Predock, with HOK Sport + Venue + Event, Kansas City, Mo., as the sports facilities and executive architect, the ballpark is the primary catalyst for the redevelopment of the city's East Village. Economists project $3 billion in development in the 26-block ballpark redevelopment area by 2020. In the last few years, 11 other development projects have either been completed or are planned in the district.
The community was engaged early on in the design process through a series of public sessions known as "California Dreaming." Baseball fans and residents suggested hundreds of design ideas, many of which were incorporated into the final design and amenities of the ballpark.
The Predock/HOK SVE team's design of the 42,000-seat facility evokes the charm and intimacy of old-time ballparks, while incorporating modern twists to conventional ballpark design and an aesthetic that honors the area's natural surroundings.
The 95-year-old Western Metal Supply Company Building on the property was renovated and incorporated into the ballpark; in fact, the left field foul pole is attached to the building's southeast corner, 334 feet from home plate. The four-story brick building now houses the team store, party suites, a restaurant, bleachers, and standing room on the roof, 80 feet above the field. For $5, budget-minded fans can watch the game from the "Park in the Park," a grassy picnic knoll beyond the outfield fence, between center and right.
An extended cantilever designed by New York structural engineering firm Thornton-Tomasetti puts fans on the top two decks closer to the action on the field without obstructing the view of fans below with support columns. Seismic floor joints separate the seating bowl into seven units. The two main pedestrian ramps and an access stair are also seismically separate.
In most ballpark's, concourses on the perimeter of the seating bowl are enclosed by a façade. But San Diego's temperate climate enabled the design team to leave the perimeter of the seating bowl exposed, allowing light to enter the ballpark's three concourse levels. Concessions, restrooms, office space, and club lounges typically housed within the enclosed concourses were located in separate buildings and connected by a series of pedestrian bridges. The design creates valleys, which emulate the surrounding terrain, and offers fans wanting to take a break from the game views of the bay and the city, says HOK SVE senior project designer Mike Wekesser.
The exterior of the ballpark is clad in stucco and sandstone imported from India, chosen to recall the soft earth tones of the cliffs at nearby Torrey Pines State Reserve. A full-scale mockup of the exterior cladding was erected to test the constructability of the system, in which 2×2×½-inch sandstone tiles were thin set on a backup constructed of cement plaster over metal lathe on steel studs. Used primarily on low- and mid-rise buildings in the area, the system had never before been used on such a large scale.
The ballpark's lush landscaping uses water-conserving, low-allergenic, and environmentally friendly vegetation. Gray water from the ballpark is returned to the city and used to irrigate golf courses and parks.