Padres to Celebrate San Diego, The Military & Baseball on Opening Day

— Thursday’s 4:05 p.m. start against Los Angeles is sold out —

SAN DIEGO – The San Diego Padres will kick off the 2012 season Thursday, hosting the Los Angeles Dodgers at Petco Park at 4:05 p.m. All fans in attendance will receive a Padres Opening Day T-Shirt, presented by Sycuan. In addition, the first 25,000 fans through the gates will receive a 2012 Padres schedule cling and SD decal, presented by Aladdin Bail Bonds. Right-handed pitcher Edinson Volquez is set to take the mound before a sellout crowd.

Opening Day ceremonies are scheduled to begin at approximately 3:30 p.m. Thursday. Legendary broadcaster and Padres television play-by-play announcer Dick Enberg will emcee the Opening Day ceremony, celebrating San Diego, the military and baseball. The ceremony will feature a National Anthem performance by Navy Band Southwest, as well as the unfurling of the Holiday Bowl Big Flag, held by 225 sailors from the USS Peleliu, and a flyover of Marine Corps Harrier jets from Marine Attack Squadron 311 (VMA-311) out of Yuma, Ariz.

Also on Thursday, the Padres will honor longtime radio broadcaster Jerry Coleman, who is celebrating 70 years in baseball and 40 years with the Padres this season. Coleman, who holds the distinction of being the only Major League player to see active combat in two wars (World War II and the Korean War), will throw out the Ceremonial First Pitch.

Prior to the National Anthem, the Padres will celebrate the inaugural year of the club’s Youth Baseball Initiative, which is outfitting more than 11,000 local Little League players in authentic Majestic Padres jerseys and corresponding caps in 2012. During the pregame ceremony, 100 Little Leaguers (five in each of the 20 uniform styles) will line the outfield baselines in celebration of the new community partnership.

Cmdr. Abe Thompson from the U.S. Navy’s Third Fleet will perform God Bless America live before the 7th Inning Stretch.

Park at the Park opens at 1:30 p.m. Thursday; all other gates open at 2:00 p.m.  With a sellout crowd heading to the ballpark, fans are encouraged to arrive early to Petco Park. To avoid additional traffic delays, fans should utilize public transportation or pre-purchase parking passes online at www.padres.com.  Traffic and parking updates will be posted throughout the day at www.padres.com/traffic. Padres parking lots are expected to fill up by 2:00 p.m., so fans are encouraged to park along Harbor Drive and utilize the pedestrian bridge from the Hilton Bayfront Hotel. Suggested routes and maps can be found at www.padres.com/transportation. The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) will offer additional "Special Event" trolley service from Qualcomm Stadium (with 5,000 free parking spots) and Mission Valley stations to the ballpark area.  The North County Transit District (NCTD) offers a special Padres Coaster train that departs Oceanside Station at 1:51 p.m. and includes free trolley connections.  For more information, visit the Access Guide page at www.padres.com or www.511sd.com.

Tickets for the remaining 80 regular-season home games, including the rest of the first homestand, can be purchased at the Petco Park Box office, online at www.padres.com, by phone at (619) 795-5555 and at the Padres Store in Tijuana.