SBJ/March 4-10, 2013/Facilities

Moving in outfield fences gives Padres room for new seating

Don Muret
The San Diego Padres have developed two new seating products at Petco Park, including a revamped space behind the right-field wall driven by the team’s attempt to generate more offense at the ballpark.

As part of a plan to reduce the field dimensions and create game situations that “play a little more fair” to the hitters, the Padres are moving the outfield fences 11 feet closer to home plate, said Tom Garfinkel, the team’s president and CEO.

To fill the space left by that shift, the Padres signed a deal with North Carolina-based seating vendor 4Topps to install 14 four-seat tables just behind the right-field fence.

The Padres saw a need to develop a greater number of seating options to accommodate different segments of the market, Garfinkel said. “Up to now, we have had a huge gap in our price points,” he said. “The key is to try to create new and unique experiences for the fans.”

New tables, shown in a rendering, will sit just behind the right-field wall.
Photo: SAN DIEGO PADRES
In addition to the 56 seats, there are seven high-top tables with two chairs each behind the 4Topps tables and standing room for 10 people, Padres spokeswoman Shana Wilson said. All told, the area can accommodate 80 fans.

As of last week, ticket prices for that space had not been established. The Padres expect to sell the 4Topps tables to groups as an all-inclusive package and as individual game tickets, Garfinkel said.

The new seats are slightly elevated above the field, but far enough away that outfielders jumping at the wall should not have to worry about fans grabbing the fly ball.

“We stood there and reached out [toward the field] and made it long enough to avoid fan interference,” Garfinkel said.
 
A portion of the new right-field wall is an LED display, providing the Padres with digital billboard space to generate revenue. Scoreboard maker Daktronics and Sony teamed up to produce the 105-foot-long, 7-foot-high electronic sign with a 14-foot-long strip carved out for live video.

A new LED ribbon board in the upper deck in right field will serve as the new out-of-town scoreboard, which last season was on the old right-field wall.

Across the outfield, the walls are all 8 feet tall now. “Right field was a few feet higher before but we made it the same as left field so [outfielders] Will Venable and Cameron Maybin can steal home runs,” Garfinkel said.

Elsewhere in the park, the Padres removed the last two sections of seats directly behind the Home Plate Club section and built five four-person boxes and one two-person box. Those six boxes, sold as all-inclusive season-ticket packages, cover the cost of food, beer and wine, plus in-seat service, one parking pass and access to the Omni Premier Club. The design of those boxes, which have a small counter space in front of the seats to store food and drink and a small television screen, is more typical of a loge box in an arena setting compared with a ballpark.

Padres officials refused to disclose ticket prices for the private boxes, but they’ll also meet the team’s need for more midpriced premium inventory it can price between $45 and $300 a game.

Garfinkel would not disclose the cost of the upgrades, but he said the 4Topps seats should pay for themselves after the first year of ticket sales.

Petco Park opened in 2004 and enters its 10th season of operation.

> SMALL WORLD: Global Spectrum has signed a five-year deal with Stadium Brasil Arenas to pursue management deals for arenas and stadiums in Brazil.

Stadium Brasil Arenas is a joint venture between Lusoarenas, a Portuguese facility developer, and Traffic Sports, a 30-year-old sports marketing firm in Latin America. The three companies have joined forces to seek new business in Brazil, mostly tied to the new facilities being built for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in that country. Under terms of the agreement, the joint venture pays Global Spectrum a fee for its services, said Mich Sauers, Global’s senior vice president of business development.

Collectively, the two international firms have developed relationships with almost all of the World Cup stadiums under construction, which will help Global Spectrum in its attempts to secure new business, Sauers said.

“There are a lot of things percolating around World Cup,” he said. “In the meantime, the light bulb has gone off — ‘What do we do with these buildings afterward?’ They are not prepared to deliver the services and experience required to sustain these facilities.”

Depending on the nature of proposed deals, the partnership could extend to Global Spectrum’s four sister companies — Ovations Food Services, New Era Tickets, Paciolan and Front Row Marketing — operating concessions, ticketing and marketing at the Brazilian venues, Sauers said.

Don Muret can be reached at dmuret@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @breakground.

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