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Padres announce upgrades to Petco Park in 2016

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Change is coming to Petco Park.

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The year 2016 is going to be a big one for baseball fans in San Diego. Yesterday morning, the Padres announced a number of changes that will be coming to Petco Park this offseason. And with the All Star game coming to the ballpark next year, these upgrades should come as no surprise.

Beach/Beacher overhaul

At the center of these changes is the overhaul of the right-center field "beacher seats" and sand pit, which jbox told us about yesterday. In partnership with Sun Diego boardshops, the Padres will be turning the area into yet another new "social" setting for fans coming to the park. In short, the new space will be two stories and "inspired by San Diego's beach lifestyle." So for all those people who allegedly don't come to the ballpark because they're at the beach, the Padres have got you covered!

Hall of Fame

The next - and, in my opinion, most important - change coming to Petco Park in 2016 is the new Padres Hall of Fame. We started hearing about plans for the Hall of Fame back in 2014 with the announcement of (and following uproar about) the renaming of Petco Park's Palm Court Plaza to the Selig Hall of Fame Plaza, which was later amended to just Bud Selig Plaza, and which fans now refer to simply as BS Plaza.

Weeks later at the Padres' first ever Social Summit, we learned more about the plans for the new Hall of Fame from Padres President Mike Dee, who told us it will be located in what was once the Mighty 1090 studio inside Petco Park, right next to - but distinct from - the aforementioned Plaza. The Hall of Fame will not only pay tribute to the Hall of Fame inductees, but also honor the great moments in Padres history. Visitors will be able to view plaques and memorabilia as well as interactive displays. During that Social Summit, Dee also hinted at a Trevor Hoffman statue to be erected somewhere near the new Hall of Fame. The Padres told us yesterday that more details regarding the Hall of Fame will be announced at a later date, but we do know now that it will open sometime before the All Star Break in 2016.

New netting and seating upgrades behind home plate

With all the recent talk of fan safety at the ballpark, this is a no-brainer. The Padres will be installing new, expanded backstop netting that is designed to increase safety from foul balls for fans sitting behind home plate. New technology will also help minimize the appearance of these new nets, allowing for a better viewing experience. In addition to this added safety measure, the seating area directly behind home plate, known as the Lexus Home Plate Club, will receive brand new seats, a new floor surface, and new paint on the railings.

Lighting upgrades

The Padres, with consultation from SDG&E, will install a new, more sustainable, LED lighting system that is designed to cut down on glare on and off the field. This will improve visibility for players, as well as spectators both in the ballpark and at home.

Padres ownership has made significant investments over the last few years to "improve the fan experience" at Petco Park. Yesterday's announced renovations are just part of a multi-year plan to upgrade the ballpark both on and off the field. During the 2013-2014 offseason, the Padres installed a new video board behind the batter's eye and completely upgraded the ballpark's audio system, as well as introduced new seating options, suites, and concessions. Prior to the 2015 season, the ballpark upgrades were highlighted by the replacement of the old matrix board with a huge, fancy LED scoreboard, as well as accompanying LED ribbon boards around the ballpark. Left field was also renovated, with the addition of new "social" seating areas including The Landing underneath the scoreboard and the Deep Eddy Vodka Hideaway in the Toyota Terrace level.

With all these new announced upgrades to the ballpark and some of the reactions I've already seen on social media, it seems appropriate once again to remind people that these kinds of investments are separate from the investments the team makes in its players. Putting money into ballpark upgrades does not mean they are taking money away from payroll, nor does it mean they are not focusing on the roster. With the All-Star Game coming to San Diego in 2016, this is THE time to make these changes and for the most part I'm pretty excited to see them come to life over the next few months.