SBD/October 23, 2012/Facilities

Padres To Change Petco Park Dimensions, Move In Outfield Fences For '13

Changing Petco Park's dimensions has been discussed since it first opened in '04
The Padres yesterday announced "the first changes in a three-year program" that will see $25M in capital improvements to Petco Park, according to Bill Center of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE. The distance to the outfield fences "will be shortened by approximately 10 feet" for just over 30% of the ballpark for the '13 season. The out-of-town scoreboard will be "relocated to a spot above right field," and the visiting bullpen will be "removed from foul territory in right field and relocated above the Padres bullpen in left-center." Padres President & CEO Tom Garfinkel said, “Petco Park will still be a pitcher’s ballpark. But the changes in the outfield dimensions will eliminate some of the extreme bias." Some seats "above the current Padres bullpen will be eliminated, but there will be seats added in right field." Padres RF Chris Denorfia said, "I’m definitely excited about the bullpen being removed from the playing field. Going toward the line at full speed was a serious concern for anyone playing right field.” Center writes Petco Park "played big -- bigger, in fact, than the Padres thought it would play." The Padres "had discussed shortening the fences at Petco Park since the downtown ballpark opened" in '04. Padres Dir of Baseball Operations Josh Stein said, "We’ve done studies each and every year. There are a number of factors going into how Petco Park plays. The time of the year is a factor. The time of day is a factor. Conditions change during games." Owner & Exec Chair Ron Fowler said, "From the time I first walked into the building there was a discussion about us being an outlier when it came to ballparks." Padres Exec VP & GM Josh Byrnes added, "Since Petco Park opened, the Padres have not generated a huge home-field advantage when it came to other teams in other ballparks" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 10/23).

DUE DILIGENCE: MLB.com's Corey Brock wrote, "You don't need an MBA in Quantitative Analysis to know what you were seeing at Petco Park." Byrnes: "We compared some of that research to what our eyeballs were telling us. Clearly, ours was extreme. We felt it was right to make these changes." Brock noted discussions about potential changes in dimensions "occurred before executive chairman Ron Fowler and his ownership group came onboard in August." Fowler "made sure to check with baseball operations to make sure this was indeed the right decision." Fowler: "We didn't ask them once, we asked them twice. That's when we decided to pull the trigger" (MLB.com, 10/22).

STAY THE COURSE: Giants President & CEO Larry Baer said of any potential changes to AT&T Park, "We don't see any compelling reason to do it. To some extent, we fashioned the team around the ballpark and have gotten zero complaints from fans. If we have more 4-3 games than 9-8 games, that's not necessarily a bad thing" (SFGATE.com, 10/23).
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