SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - The San Diego Padres welcomed fans back to Petco Park on Thursday at 100% capacity. Despite already having played more than 60 games, the team called it "San Diego's Opening Day."
While fans are excited about being able to see their team in person, downtown businesses are also jumping at the chance to increase business.
"I can't be more happy that the downtown is coming back to life," said Basic Bar and Pizza owner Erik Tesmer. "You can just see the energy."
Tesmer said they have to pay a premium for their location, so business from Padres fans is a must to stay open.
It's not just his business banking on that.
At different times in the past year, the downtown area seemed like a ghost town.
"It's momentous," said Marshall Anderson with the Downtown San Diego Partnership. "Not just because we can all go over to Petco Park and cheer on our Padres, I think it really marks and signals that downtown is back open for business."
Anderson said Padres games will help reignite the downtown economy.
"Let's have a summer in the city. Let's come downtown. Let's enjoy some of San Diego's finest restaurants and facilities."
That's exactly what Tesmer is hoping for. It's been a hard year professionally and personally.
"My wife had COVID for a considerable time," he said. "So she's still recovering six months later."
He compared the Padres being back to Christmas. He's hoping for big sales to help get through slower times.
"The customers are excited, the team’s excited, the locals are excited, everyone's ready to roll and get this place going again," Tesmer said.