SAN DIEGO – Baseball fans rejoice! The end of Major League Baseball’s grueling nearly 100-day lockout means the Padres soon will be returning to Petco Park.
In San Diego’s East Village, the news was met with elation by some businesses who grew anxious as weeks of stop-and-start negotiations threatened to cut into the team’s regular-season schedule. It has been challenging for some as the COVID-19 slashed attendance at the downtown ballpark for the past two years.
Paul Garduno, owner of Casa Octavio, a new restaurant at 935 J St. set to open by Opening Day, said he was “super worried” by the idea of paying higher rent downtown not to catch all the expected baseball traffic.
“You move into this place precisely because you know the occurrence of people that would be coming into the games,” Garduno said.
With a deal in place between MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association, Opening Day across the league now is set for April 7. The Friars are due to open their home slate of the schedule on April 14 against the defending World Series champion Atlanta Braves.
Unlike the past two seasons, the Padres likely will open up the year with a capacity crowd.
In 2020, fans were not permitted to attend any home games at Petco Park and last year, the Friars opened the season with a crowd at roughly 20% capacity because of the pandemic. The team couldn’t host a full ballpark until its June series against Cincinnati Reds.
Now into 2022, the pandemic is in a different spot and establishments near the ballpark already are anticipating a return of throngs of fans.
Next to Casa Octavio is Nick the Greek, which opened its doors last July. They quickly were able to feel how the team’s regular season games bring a steady flow of business into the restaurant.
“It’s very consistent,” Nick the Greek supervisor Emmanuel Felix said. “Great flow of people. They come from all over. A lot of out-of-towners.”
In a statement released Thursday, team Chairman and owner Peter Seidler thanked fans for “your patience and continued support of the Padres.”
“We are well positioned to finalize our roster, begin Spring Training, and prepare for an exciting season,” Seidler said. “Our goal remains the same, to win our first World Series Championship for San Diego and you, all our loyal fans.”
The team also plans to release information about rescheduling the first six games of the year, which had been axed as negotiations between the league and its players’ union were ongoing.