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ESPN OFFERS SPANISH TEST TO THREE MLB TEAMS: DID THEY PASS?
Published July 23, 1997
ESPN's "Outside the Lines" examined the Latino impact on MLB last night. Among the topics covered was an extensive report by ESPN's Mark Schwarz on how the Dodgers, Padres and Angels market themselves to Latino fans: PADRES AND DODGERS: ESPN's Schwarz reported that the Padres were the first team to establish an Hispanic marketing department, and starting last season, the team arranged transportation for fans from six Mexican cities to their Sunday home games. In '96, nearly 20,000 tickets were sold and 144 buses brought Mexican fans across the border. Enrique Morones, Padres Dir of Hispanic & Multicultural Marketing: "The response has been phenomenal. We've had approximately a 350% increase in Hispanic fans. We doubled our attendance from 1995 to 1996 in which a large part of that was the Hispanic community." For the Dodgers, Jaime Jarrin, who has broadcast Dodgers games in spanish since '59, said the team's total attendance is around 28 or 30% Hispanic. About one-third of the Dodgers' roster is Latin American, and Schwarz noted that the team's Web site "is multilingual, their publications and their pocket schedules are available in spanish" (ESPN, 7/22). ANGELS: While the Padres have broadcast all their games in spanish since their inception in '69 and the Dodgers have broadcast in spanish since '59, Schwarz reported, "By contrast, the Angels, based in Orange County, home of nearly three quarters of a million Hispanics, have not had spanish radio in three seasons." The team has only one Hispanic regular on their roster and, Schwarz said, "the franchise has yet to produce a Latin star in its 37-year history." Angels VP/Sales & Marketing Ken Wachter: "That's the complaint I hear a lot. You know, we don't have spanish speaking players. Well, how many is enough?" Anaheim Sports President Tony Tavares, asked by Schwarz how he would compare the Angels' efforts in targeting the Hispanic community to the Dodgers and Padres: "Not even close. We're scratching the surface right now. We're doing exponentially more than we did last year, and next year we'll do exponentially more than we're doing this year" (ESPN, 7/22). SPANISH TEST: ESPN's Schwarz noted that "just two and a half years ago no one in the Padres' offices spoke spanish. Now the team offers lessons and nearly 30% speak the language. The Padres, indeed, passed our bilingual test." More Schwarz: "When a spanish speaker called all three Southern California teams to inquire about tickets, the Padres and Dodgers responded in spanish within two minutes. However, the Angels were behind. After more than five and a half minutes on hold, our caller was given another phone number. A recording included an instruction in spanish to press four, after which the instructions continued in english." The caller, shown on air, then got an Angels attendant on line who told her, "No habla espanol. You have to call back and press number four." Schwarz: "Finally, after placing a third call, and waiting for a grand total of nearly 18 minutes, a spanish speaker answered." Tavares' reaction when told of the situation: "Outrage, annoyance, and I guarantee you that as of tomorrow that won't happen again." Schwarz: "When we called a week later, we were connected with a spanish speaking operator within minutes. And the Angels say they will broadcast all 162 games in spanish next season. But a member of the club's management told me the organization is, quote, 'years behind,' end quote, when it comes to understanding the demographics of its market" ("Outside the Lines," ESPN, 7/22).