San Diego Excited For Padres Opening Day, Some Fans Back In Stands
Speaker 1: 00:00 San Diego sports fans have reason to celebrate today marks not only opening day for the Padres season, but I returned to in-person seating at Petco park. And while fans can return in limited numbers, the cost of attendance won't come cheap. The most modestly priced opening day tickets are listed for hundreds of dollars with prices surging to the thousands on the secondary market. While the return of fans to the ballpark is a small step back to normality. The sheer cost of these tickets is raising concerns about the average fan's ability to enjoy America's pastime. Joining me to discuss the skyrocketing open day ticket prices is San Diego sports writer, Jay Perez, Jay, welcome to the program, Speaker 2: 00:41 Andrew, thanks so much for having me on today. Speaker 1: 00:44 Ballpark was an expensive proposition. Well, before the pandemic with fans returning in limited numbers, how can ownership justify such an exorbitant price, even for the nosebleed seating? Speaker 2: 00:56 You know, it's, uh, it's economics one Oh one supply and demand, but the Padres sell their tickets and then there's the secondary market. And while they don't have a direct, you know, operation of that, that that's where the astronomical numbers are coming from. As you cited earlier in the report, uh, there's just 20% people are allowed in a 40,000 seat stadium. Now maybe in the old days when the Padres weren't very good, that wouldn't have been as big as problem. That's no longer the case. This team is built for a championship. This team didn't get to feel that energy from their dedicated fans last year when they made their first playoff run since 2006, it's the most beautiful ballpark or one of them in America. So it's like the tsunami of events all coming together in a year where the ticket demand is so great. And the ticket supply is so little. So if you're sitting on some season tickets or you're sitting on some tickets and you're on the secondary market, uh, let me know where you buy your new house and I'll come by for a barbecue Speaker 1: 02:01 Jay full disclosure. I'm not the biggest sports fan in the world, but even I can enjoy a good baseball game at Petco park. How is in-person attendance going to be different this season? Speaker 2: 02:11 It'll be different with wearing a mask except when consuming food or beverage, the social distancing, the separation of the fans throughout the stadium. I mean, that's kind of the charm of going to the ballpark. You know, you're probably going to go with a buddy, but you don't know who's going to be sitting on the right or left of you after nine and you'll know that person pretty well. And that's part of the charm. So, you know, it won't be a packed crowd and there'll be a, you know, a cashless concessions and, and hot dog and beers and that stuff. So it's going to be a different feel for sure. But I think it also emphasizes how important in our life sports is. Everybody is interested in opening day yet, even if you aren't a baseball seam head, as they say, or a real insider guy, uh, it's like almost Del Mar at the racetrack or it's a, a city national is not a city holiday. If you will, unofficially where everybody blows off work, everybody's got a upset stomach and the cause of the sick and goes to the ball game or meet somebody to watch the ball game. And that's, what's kind of been missing this past year and with the Padres being so exciting and the anticipation, uh, people want to get back to the ballpark. And if nothing else it'll be like the good old days with sports, it'll give us something to argue about except politics. And that might be refreshing. Speaker 1: 03:30 Now, even with these sky high ticket prices, do you think today's game will be a sellout? Speaker 2: 03:34 Oh, absolutely. They'll, uh, they'll sell every ticket available and there'll be people leaning over the balconies trying to get a view. Uh, every one of the watering holes and taverns and restaurants downtown will be packed with fans, you know, watching it on TV and, and let's face it. That that's how the majority of fans really that's how the majority of fans consume, uh, athletics anyway, via television. But particularly with the decreased seating capacity, Padre fans are going to get their Padre fixed on TV. But, uh, you know, hopefully as the season goes on more and more people can attend these games because really that was the missing ingredient of last year. Special concoction was the fans in the stands. Speaker 1: 04:14 Experts expect that ticket prices will come down. Some as the season goes on still, it's hard to imagine that given where ticket prices are now, they'll come down to a point that will actually be affordable for most people, especially given the economic hardships that many people in the country are facing right now. Is there any worry that the average fan is just going to be priced out of the in-person sports experience for the foreseeable future? Speaker 2: 04:39 You know, that's a great point and really is, you know, before the pandemic, you know, baseball was kind of trending in this direction, you know, let's face it. That was part of baseball's charm. You could go get a ticket for a couple of bucks. You could sit upstairs, you can get a hot dog, a beer for $5 and make a day of it and take your family. That's no longer the case. I mean, you take a family affordable game now, and that that's a car payment, at least, you know, it's expensive. And that some of the worry about, you know, the escalating labor costs, the escalating costs stadium, you know, how do you pay for it? You have to increase revenues. One of those revenue streams or ticket sales is ticket sales. So you're, you're right on point that baseball is walking a thin line here. Speaker 2: 05:19 Now they will argue that the most expensive tickets are downstairs are the better ones. And the cheaper ones of course are upstairs. And that balances out we'll see, but the demand is so great right now. You know, it's all about leverage and you're either the hammer or the nail. And right now, professional sports are the hammer because fans are just desirous to go to a game, but it's going to be expensive for awhile. And, uh, I think the key is going to be when more people are allowed to come to come to the ballparks, they take, the prices will come down, but, but even then it's going to be an expensive season for Padres baseball. Speaker 1: 05:52 The Padres had been spending a lot of the off season beefing up their roster. As you mentioned, do you think that the sheer amount of talent in the lineup will keep ticket prices high as the season continues? And are we looking at a catch 22 where the better the team does, the, the less opportunity we'll have to actually see them in person? Speaker 2: 06:11 Uh, that could be true, but that also is offset by increased revenues by the clubs, which are businesses. So, you know, it is a good team and you, you make a good point if this was the Padres of old, you know, last year would have been their 10th consecutive losing season, but they turn it around that went to the playoffs. So if it would have been one of those old Padre teams and they die on the vine by may and June, and really they're not playing significant games later in the season, I would agree that yes, it ticket prices would come down because again, it's all supply and demand. So the demand wouldn't be there. This is, uh, this team's built to win a championship. A lot of years, they were built to be 500. They were built not to be too bad. They were built to just develop the players. This is built to win a championship, which means you pay championship prices. I mean, the payroll's a hundred million, $180 million. Uh, they have, you know, $784 million tied up and just three players and Fernando tatties, Manny Machado, and Eric cosmos. So it's expensive. And, uh, I, I certainly hear, hear what you're saying, cause, uh, there's nothing like seeing a bunch of kids at a ballpark and they just bring so much shorter to the game and I hope they can afford to go. Speaker 1: 07:23 Yeah, I hope so too. I've been speaking with San Diego sports writer, Jay Paris, Jay. Thank you. Speaker 2: 07:28 Okay. Thanks for having me, Andrew. Speaker 1: 07:36 [inaudible].