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Change, Excitement Coming to Padres FanFest 

As many of you are hopefully aware, the Padres will be holding their 2015 FanFest this upcoming weekend at Petco Park. FanFest typically marks the occasion where fans – young and old alike – descend upon the Padres home venue as an unofficial start to the upcoming season. Although FanFest has typically been held in February in recent years, the team went a different direction by deciding to hold the event in April – just two days before the official start of the season when the Padres take on the Dodgers up at Chavez Ravine.

Notably, the later start date for the event isn’t the only change to FanFest this year.

Indeed, one of the biggest changes to FanFest this year comes in the form of a free exhibition game between the Padres and Los Diablos Rojos del Mexico – or the Mexico City Red Devils of the Mexican Baseball League (Liga Mexicana de Beisbol – Zona Norte). Tickets for the game were free to people who signed up and registered on the website early, but due to a capacity-sized interest there are no longer any tickets available for the event.

The Padres have noted that fans who did not pre-register before the event reached capacity may still have a chance to obtain a limited number of park passes before the event on site. Additionally, fans will not be allowed to leave and re-enter the park due to the anticipated attendance.

The game is slated to start at 2:00pm, with the Red-Devils taking batting practice at 11:30am and Padres taking batting practice at 12:15pm.

Because of the exhibition game, the usual FanFest staples of “playing catch on the field” or taking a photo at homeplate will be restricted to the morning hours of the event only. Additionally, the team hasn’t posted anything about “running the bases” as they have in years past, so it’s unclear if that event will take place at all this year. Fortunately, the team tends to allow young fans to take part in running around on the bases during the regular season, so there shouldn’t be any concern on missing out here.

Another new change to FanFest this year is the idea of “surprise” autograph sessions. In years past, fans would receive vouchers for assigned autograph times where they would meet a pair of players of their choice from a posted schedule. This year, however, the team has decided to keep each autograph session “a surprise until the session begins.”

While this new method provides a certain amount of excitement and surprise to the annual free-autograph event, young fans will likely be unfazed by the change and will be just as excited to meet a Padre from the past as they would a Padre from the present. Coaches, like last year, will be involved in the autograph sessions as well – so be sure to dig up some old rookie cards if you can!

The Padres will also have a Fox Sports San Diego photo booth opportunity where fans can mingle with the Fox Sports San Diego girls and also the Fox Sports robot, Cleatus. The team also plans on holding a “Social Media Scavenger Hunt” where fans can follow along with the Padres’ social media outlets to find clues to earn giveaways and other fun prizes and opportunities. The Mighty 1090 will also be on site, broadcasting live from the event.

Parking around the stadium will be free in any Padres owned parking lots. This includes the Parkcade structure down 10th Avenue, the Tailgate lots, the Lexus Premier lots, and any other team owned properties. Parking is expected to fill quickly, however, so fans are encouraged to arrive early or utilized MTS (public transportation) to arrive to the park.

Additionally, FanFest will have multiple entry points as opposed to the usual entrance at the Homeplate gate. Fans can now enter at the East Village Gate and Gaslamp Gate (near the Western Metal Building) as well.

For Padres season ticket members, the gates will open promptly at 8:00am, while other fans who pre-registered can expect to start entering the park around 9:00am. Also, fans looking to snag something special at the Padres garage sale are encourage to arrive *extra* early just in case! More detailed information on all of the event’s components can be found here on the Padres website.

Here’s to a fun event this weekend, and we at the Friarhood also hope to see you at our FanFest after party at Dick’s Last Resort in the Gaslamp! The party will be held from 4:00pm to approximately 7:00pm. Fans are encouraged to swing by after the game and spend some time with the congregation and talk about the upcoming season, while also enjoying good food and free giveaways. More information on the event can be found on the Friarhood Facebook page.

The new season is upon us, everyone. Gear up and keep the faith, and as always… Go Padres!

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About the author: Ian Edward Russell Smith

Ian is a former writer for the San Diego Padres, having worked as the Padres' "In-Season Blogger" during the 2015 season. Ian wrote as a member of the Friarhood's writing staff between parts of 2013-2015, writing over 100 articles over that span. In addition to being a writer, Ian is also a recent graduate of California Western School of Law in San Diego, having earned a Juris Doctor, as well as his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science/Law & Society from the University of California, Riverside. Be sure to follow Ian on Twitter (@SDRedBull8) to see what other ramblings he's posted about the Padres, San Diego, and baseball in general!