Monday, June 25, 2012

So You Wanna Buy the San Diego Padres. . .

From the look of things, it appears that the San Diego Padres will finally have an owner who actually wants to own the team.  For those of you who don't follow sports, here's a quick rundown:

The Padres are currently owned by John Moores, who purchased the San Diego Padres back in 1994 from the then awful ownership of Tom Werner.  Moores loved owning the team, and the team went to the playoffs on several occasions and had their best team ever in 1998 (and would have won the World Series, IMHO, had they not run into the 1998 Yankees, who were one of the best teams ever).  Moores' efforts lead to the building of Petco Park, the current home of the Padres (which was held up by four years by litigation).  In 2008, John Moores and his wife divorced, and with the team being community property and all, Moores was hurt financially.  So he tried to sell the team to Jeff Moorad, a former player agent who made enough enemies during his tenure as an agent that Major League Baseball refused to allow him to buy the Padres.  So, Moores had to go back to the drawing board to sell the team. On the plus side, the $2 Billion Dollar Purchase of the Dodgers increased the Padres' value somewhat.

So, with the team up for sale, and the team with its expected purchase price to be upwards of $800 million ($600 million for the team, and $200 million for the team's stake in a regional sports network), I figured I'd give a few pieces of advice to the new ownership.  Mind you, I am not a baseball person, but I am something of a rare breed - a San Diego native.  If you want to gain the affection of San Diego, pay attention to what I have to say.

1) Get Fox Sports San Diego on Every TV in San Diego, Riverside, Imperial County and Mexico:  Okay, this is kind of a no-brainer.  If no one can see the Padres on a regular basis, no one will think about the Padres on a regular basis.  So, the fact that only half the City of San Diego can see Padres games is just dumb.  But more importantly, there are over 5 million people south of the border who don't get Padres games, and another 1-2 million people in Riverside, San Bernardino and Imperial Counties who don't see Padres games. That's just stupid.  Get the games on TV and compete for the parts of Southern California referred to as "Rivertucky" (*Note: DO NOT CALL THESE AREAS RIVERTUCKY).  

2) Beer, Beer, Beer: While San Diego is an ever-changing landscape and population, there are certain things that once introduced, stick permanently in the San Diego.  For instance, when I saw Nirvana back in 1994, Kurt Cobain mocked our mosh pit because instead of moshing (general violence) we were slamdancing in a circle - a relic of the early punk era.  The thing is, San Diegans never moshed, and always slamdanced.  Anyway, this is a long way of saying, that once we get into something, we San Diegans don't let it go.  Beer, especially craft beer, is a great example.  In the past 15 years San Diego has built and supported over forty breweries.  And that number will, most likely, continue to grow. 

So make sure that the beer at Petco reflects the beer outside of Petco.  Get the local breweries to produce beer for Petco.  Better yet (and I've given this advice before), get the breweries to produce a beer just for Petco - as in, the beer is only sold at Padres games.  Trust me, they'll do it and the results will be awesome.  Then, we the drinkers of local craft beer have even more reason to go to the games.  Heck, I paid $15 once to get a half-pint of Pliny the Younger (just google it), at an event this year.  If there's some rare and delicious beer that I can only get at the ballpark, I'm going to pay for the ticket.

3) Go South Young Man: As you probably are already aware, there are almost 5 million people living in Northern Baja. 5 million people who are different from other Mexicans due to their close proximity to the Border.  If you want to increase your market share, that's where you go.  Yes, right now, baseball is a minor sport in Mexico - probably about as popular as lacrosse here - but you don't have to change the minds of Mexicans everywhere, just Mexicans in Baja.  And that's totally doable because in places with large Mexican-American populations, such as LA and Chicago, there are large numbers of Mexican-American baseball fans.  Hire a guy like Enrique Morones (who used to work for the Padres and was successful in the Mexico outreach back in then 1990's).  Even if you don't get more Mexican fans into Petco, the key is the TV market.  Since you will own part of the local Fox Sports network, you can grow your audience.  This is a good thing.

4) Hire Local Talent: Right now there are 5-10 active and operating Padres blogs, run by Padres fans. In comparison, there are 2-3 Chargers blogs in San Diego.  These blog writers - and especially former blog writers like Geoff of Ducksnorts - do some very good analysis of Padres players.  Go out and hire one of these guys.  Also, get a local legend - Tony Gywnn, Randy Jones, etc. - to sell the team to the diehards.  

5) Don't Get Discouraged: Even if you reach down to Mexico, have the local breweries produce beer just for you, hire local talent, and plaster your games all over, you may not get the kind of return you hope for.  Be patient.  The thing you have to remember is that Padres fans have had a long, painful history with the team.  You will be the fifth owner of the team, and since Joan Kroc sold the team, each new ownership has come in with high expectations, and then conducted firesales.  So, we're a bit gunshy at first.  But if you keep trying, and the team wins, we'll be there for you.

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