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Volume 21 No. 10
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Padres add Sony-sponsored suite for gamers

It’s game on for visitors to Petco Park.

The San Diego Padres have installed a video gaming lounge at the ballpark, with the new space also serving as a showcase for technology from corporate sponsor Sony.

The Padres built the 705-square-foot Sony Experience inside the Western Metal building and adjacent to the club’s team store. The space features high-end 4K resolution TVs, PlayStation 4 gaming consoles, wireless headphones, and “MLB: The Show,” the officially licensed MLB video game produced by Sony Interactive Entertainment in San Diego, along with other game titles.

Several other MLB clubs in recent years have installed video game fan experiences in their ballpark concourses and club seating areas. But the Padres’ effort represents one of the largest to date devoted to gaming, and combines with a recent San Diego-themed installation of MLB Advanced Media’s “Home Run Derby VR” in another part of Petco Park, the first such placement of that virtual reality game at a ballpark.

The Sony Experience has field-level views and is available year-round for parties and events.
The Sony Experience, which features field-level views, will be sold as a day-of-game suite and will be available year-round for parties and events, with typical pricing in the low-to-mid four figures per game comparable to other Padres premium suites. “Home Run Derby VR,” meanwhile, will be on the main ballpark concourse and more openly available to all fans at Padres home games, similar to how it was in July at the MLB All-Star FanFest in Miami. Padres Chief Operating Officer Erik Greupner said the moves “provide another reason for fans to come out and experience Petco Park.”

The Padres have not yet determined whether The Sony Experience will be a venue for esports competitions, though its compact size and 20-person capacity present limitations for events of that scale. The Padres, however, did host a large party last fall at Petco Park for TwitchCon, a gathering for video game streaming, which helped inform club executives on the rising prominence of gaming.

Financial costs to build out the gaming spaces were not disclosed. But in the case of The Sony Experience, the club and Sony struck a supplemental agreement from their existing relationship that dates back more than a decade and includes title sponsorship to the Padres Hall of Fame.

“Having teams from Sony Electronics and Sony Interactive Entertainment based in San Diego made this a natural partnership,” said Asad Qizilbash, Sony Interactive Entertainment America vice president of marketing.

Jamie Leece, MLBAM vice president of games and VR strategy, said the Padres’ move to install “Home Run Derby VR” at Petco Park will be soon followed by a similar setup from the Arizona Diamondbacks, and then many more teams in 2018.

“We have at least 10 to 12 clubs showing significant interest in doing this, looking at it for next year,” Leece said.