ESPN OFFERS SPANISH TEST TO THREE MLB TEAMS: DID THEY PASS?
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).