The San Diego Padres replaced their retired numbers display on top of their batter’s eye with an advertisement. That in itself says a lot, but let’s be fair and think a little more.
The Tom Garfinkel regime added other large smatterings of advertisements to Petco Park in the form of a giant golf club and paint can, among others. More recently, Ron Fowler and Mike Dee have taken ads in Petco Park to another level. Seemingly everything not nailed down has a corporate sponsor attached, including an almost impressive ability to create new places to display ads, including a large freestanding National University sign in left-centerfield and a Sycuan banner hanging above another ad on the light tower in right field.
Fans were especially vocal about the National University sign, but the increased corporate presence was followed by real change to the team’s finances. I asked CEO Mike Dee about the ad revenue at the 2014 Padres Social Summit, and he said that money would go back into the team. Indeed it appeared to, because after the National University and other signs debuted in 2014, the Padres raised payroll significantly.
And while payroll dropped in 2016, we’re expecting a large shopping spree in international free agency this year, and it makes perfect sense to lump that spending to MLB payroll as every team faces choices about where to allocate their budget. I’m sure if Dee or the Padres responded to fan complaints, they would point out the increase in spending as the reason for the ads, and point to the benefits fans have seen.
In the ongoing buildup to the 2016 All-Star Game in July at Petco Park, the Padres have been adding and updating parts of the ballpark.
Last week the Padres announced the Beachers would be removed and a new group section would be replacing it. This followed an earlier announcement that the entire lighting system would be upgraded to LED. They also mentioned upgrading the seats in the Lexus Home Plate Club sections and upgraded and expanded backstop netting.
Yesterday, Bill Center wrote an article on Padres.com about the changes to the retired numbers currently located on the Batter’s Eye along with changes related to the new Padres Hall of Fame. I was out doing other stuff and didn’t really have a chance to look at any of it until today.
So let’s do that, shall we?
I’m going to be honest. I collect a ton of stuff, but autographs are not on the list. I see the autograph hounds in Spring Training every year and I kind of get a dirty feeling just looking at them, as these grown men are slobbering all over these ball players for their signature. Pushing down small kids to catch their 40th foul ball of the day on the backfields. 5 Baseball card albums filled to the brim with cards. I will never be that guy. If you are that guy, please stop.
That’s not to say I don’t have any autographs though. There are certain situations where I don’t feel like a slime ball and might ask a player to sign something. I have a bunch of Tony Gwynn autographs that I got when I was a kid mainly because I just wanted to go and see my favorite player and have a conversation with him (which he always did, despite sometimes the lines being rather long). I also have a Will Venable autographed ball that my sister got for me at a silent auction for my birthday 2 years ago. I will cherish that ball forever. I also got a Rollie Fingers autograph at FanFest a few years back (2010?) because he’s a legend. Then I have my pride and joy. The Padres retired numbers ball.