SBJ/March 17-23, 2014/Facilities

Big changes in food operation on the menu at Petco Park

Don Muret
The San Diego Padres are revamping the food operation at Petco Park, starting with renovations at three primary destinations.

The Padres, in conjunction with Delaware North Sportservice, their concessionaire, and some new local restaurant partners, are investing $9 million over two years in food upgrades, said Scott Marshall, the team’s vice president of concessions and retail.
The first phase of the project, coming for this season, focuses on refreshing spaces inside a four-story tower along the first-base line, the “Park in the Park” behind center field, and the Western Metal Building in left field.

On the tower’s ground floor, Sportservice is converting an old burger grill stand into the Seaside Market after signing a deal with local grocer Pete Najjar, who runs a fresh food market in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, about 25 miles north of San Diego. The food items available at Petco Park’s market will include cold salads, flatbreads, organic sodas and waters, fruits and vegetables, and craft beers, plus sandwich and juice bars and hot entrees, Marshall said.
 
As part of the experience, the ballpark market will provide small shopping carts for fans to transport their meals to the Park in the Park, the stadium’s general-admission lawn space tied to a $10 ticket. It’s about 500 yards from the tower building, Marshall said.

A rendering shows Ballast Point’s The Draft tap room, to debut at Petco Park this season.
Rendering: COURTESY OF SAN DIEGO PADRES
Two craft breweries are moving into the tower as well: Ballast Point’s The Draft tap room on the second floor, and Stone Brewery’s Stone Garden, a rooftop beer garden.

Hodad’s, a popular burger restaurant in San Diego that has been at the park for two years, is opening a second location on the tower’s third floor, sandwiched between the two bars.

At Park in the Park, a big part of the food changes are tied to Bumble Bee Foods, a West Coast tuna supplier. The company is moving its headquarters this month to a 60,000-square-foot building at the northeast corner of Park in the Park.

A new Bumble Bee portable cart will sell tuna melts and seafood salads. As part of its move to the stadium, Bumble Bee Foods has naming rights for the whiffle ball field at Park in the Park.

At the Western Metal Building, another historic structure incorporated into the park, Rimel’s rotisserie chicken takes over an old group space on top of the building. The 6,000-square-foot eatery has an outdoor kitchen and can accommodate 400 to 500 diners, Marshall said.

Marshall, who joined the Padres last season after 25 years at Centerplate, and Josh Pell, Sportservice’s general manager at Petco Park and another former Centerplate employee, are working closely together to re-energize the ballpark’s food service.

At Centerplate, both helped develop The ’Pen, the successful outfield food market concept at Safeco Field in Seattle, where the Mariners play. Now, they’ve turned their attention to Petco Park, which turns 10 years old this season.

Seattle firm M3, which was involved in The ’Pen project, worked on the design and construction of the food-related retrofits with Gensler and Shawmut.

The improvements in food service are among several renovations in the works under Mike Dee, who returned to the Padres as president last summer after overseeing the ballpark’s original development during his first stint in San Diego.

> WARPED HARVEST: Chris Calcaterra, manager of the Peoria (Ariz.) Sports Complex, spring training home of the Padres and the Mariners, had a funny story to tell during Breaking Ground’s recent visit to his facility.
In the early 2000s, the venue played host to the Vans Warped Tour, an action sports and music festival held in the summer months. About three weeks after the event concluded, a member of the stadium’s operations staff approached Calcaterra holding some small plants in his hand.

“I think these are what I think they are,” the staff member told Calcaterra.

“I think they are too!” was Calcaterra’s response.

Yes, marijuana was growing in the ballpark’s outfield.

“We go out there, and in the [festival’s] moshpit, all these seeds had fallen,” Calcaterra said.

Some seeds had obviously taken root, and the grounds crew quickly mowed over the area to eliminate further growth, he said.

For the past several years, the Warped Tour has played a rural area in Phoenix that tour officials felt was more conducive to festival-style events, Calcaterra said.

Don Muret can be reached at dmuret@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @breakground.

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