SBJ/June 1 - 7, 1998/No Topic Name

Padres cover their bases with military

Jack Ensch's job in the San Diego Padres' marketing department borders on patriotic duty.

Ensch, a retired Navy captain, is head of the team's attempt to make Padres fans out of the county's 450,000 active, retired and reserve military and their families.

This year, that has meant pioneering the "Padres at Sea" program. At the end of every home stand or road trip, Ensch mails videotapes of the team's games to San Diego-area Navy and Marine units stationed in the Persian Gulf. The entire program will cost just $2,500. "Hopefully when they come back, it will translate into them coming out to the ballpark in person," Ensch said.

The team also offers active military personnel refunds on season-ticket purchases if they are transferred.

While the team's military effort no doubt is tinged with patriotism, it also makes good business sense.

The concentration of military in San Diego is the nation's largest and represents $13 billion in economic activity. Little effort was made to tap this wealth before John Moores and Larry Lucchino bought the ballclub three years ago, Ensch said.

"The new ownership realized what a shambles marketing was in," Ensch said.

Now, the military has its own Opening Day — the only one in baseball — on the Thursday of the Padres' first home stand. Veterans receive an annual September salute.

Meanwhile, the team's "Touch All the Bases" promotion with AT&T allows active military to buy discount tickets for 12 Sunday afternoon games this season.

The season-ticket refund program applies to all plans, including 13- and 26-game packages. Ticket holders are also given the option of trading tickets they can't use for earlier games, Ensch said.

"We understand that a member of the Navy or Marines who is in San Diego Opening Day may not still be in San Diego by the All-Star Break," he said.

Ensch said accommodating military fans "is just a little something we can do to repay our soldiers."

"Having been there and done that, I have a feeling for what they want out there," Ensch said.

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Related Topics:

AT&T Corp., San Diego Padres

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