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Folks have been lining up at Petco Park on the first Saturday in March to buy single-game tickets ever since the park opened in 2004. This Saturday, March 5, will be different because the Padres changed the sale date for single-game tickets to Tuesday, March 8.

In the past, the first Saturday in March has been a big deal: the first person in line usually arrives around midnight. The guys in line talk about the Gaslamp partiers trying to remember where they parked their cars. About 15 fans usually arrive during the night.

At sunrise, everyone is out of their sleeping bags and talking about the upcoming season, favorite players, and the trades the Padres made in the off-season. The line gets longer at around 6:00 a.m. By the time the box office opens at 9:00 a.m., 200 to 300 people have gathered, and TV news crews are interviewing fans.

According to Padres spokesperson Shana Wilson, “Last year, the vast majority of tickets purchased [on the first Saturday in March] were not purchased onsite.” She says fans have been buying tickets online or by phone, rather than sitting on cold concrete for hours before they can buy. Plus, the new pre-season “Flex-10 Packs” have made it easier to buy ten or more tickets for various games in advance.

Having attended every Padres opening day at Qualcomm Stadium and Petco since 1995, I've often joined the crowds on the first Saturday in March. My personal best was in 2008, when I was 17th in line after arriving at 5:30 a.m. Last year, no one had high expectations for the new player roster, and I was able to buy four tickets — in the section I requested — well into the mid morning of that first Saturday in March. This year, after last year's winner season, I'm calling at 9:00 am.

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