SBD/April 5, 2011/Franchises

Padres Using Ticket Discounts In Attempt To Lure Fans To Petco Park

Padres president expects season-ticket base to rise to 11,000 by end of April
Luring fans to baseball games, or any sporting event in San Diego, "has always been a challenge," but the Padres "may have an even tougher task this season," according to Mike Allen of the SAN DIEGO BUSINESS JOURNAL. The Padres have a "wounded starting pitching rotation as well as a bunch of new players many fans never heard of." During the offseason, they traded away 1B Adrian Gonzalez, "who accounted for nearly a quarter of the Padres' offense last year." This coupled with the loss of "several other big names such as David Eckstein and Jon Garland will make selling tickets that much more difficult, conventional wisdom states." But Padres President & COO Tom Garfinkel "does not agree." Garfinkel noted, "Last year we had the fourth highest attendance growth in the major leagues, and this season we've had a 90 percent renewal rate by our season ticket holders, which is right with the top five or six other clubs in the majors." He added the Padres "should get to 11,000 by the end of April." Allen notes those season-ticket numbers "aren't close to the top drawing franchises," but they are a "big swing from the depths of 2009, when the Padres sold fewer than 9,000 season tickets." To "entice more fans to come to multiple games, the Padres have reduced some prices and are selling tickets for below $18 for about 15,000 seats." Also, with "discount programs such as two-for-one Tuesdays, expanding the all-you-can-eat section, and cutting beer prices, Padre games should be among the most affordable to attend in all of baseball." However, Allen notes all the revisions "instituted under the aegis" of Padres Vice Chair & CEO Jeff Moorad "didn't quite set Petco's attendance records afire last year, even though the team was anchored in first place nearly the entire season." The Padres drew 2.13 million fans last season, or an average of 26,318 per game, "up from the 1.9 million total attendance and an average of 23,699 in 2009, but far from the record smashing year of 2004, when Petco Park opened and drew about 3 million fans" (SAN DIEGO BUSINESS JOURNAL, 4/4 issue).

MISLEADING NUMBERS
: In San Diego, Tim Sullivan noted Forbes as part of its annual MLB valuations estimated the Padres' '10 operating income "at a baseball-best" $37.2M, but he wrote their "estimates are open to interpretation and, in turn, to misinterpretation." The estimates "revived speculation that Moorad might be diverting some of the ballclub's revenues to complete the purchase of John Moores' ownership stake," but Moorad insisted that that "has not been the case and won't become the case." He said, "Our goal is not to make money. Our goal is to break even. Even if we sell the ballpark out and have a new broadcast contract and are able to sell more expensive seats at some point, every dollar that we are able to generate over and above expenses will go right back into the facility or the major league payroll. ... There are no distributions. If we made a distribution today, 50 cents on the dollar would go to John (Moores). John's not receiving them. Neither are we" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 4/2).
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