For Serious – Padres Season Ticket Holders… Sorry, "Members"… Totally Boned

Putting the MS Paint dick jokes on hold for a second, I think it’s important to discuss an important issue facing the Padres.

I saw some recent discussion on Padres Public and in the Friarhood chat rooms yesterday regarding the Padres moves to switch season ticket holders’ seats out of their designated days and into, many times, inferior seats.  This all bubbled to the surface due to a KGTV article about it, along with some drama queen comments within the article from a season ticket holder that is so “disgusted” that she is going to pass out fliers to dissuade people from buying tickets.  I am a Padres fanatic, rarely miss a game, and have lived through this team’s travails for several decades now.  I am also a season ticket holder.  In fact, after last year’s disappointing season, I actually upgraded my package to a half season package.  I am one of the half season B plan “members” that had their Saturday seats swiped from them and reassigned to Sunday, while also moving my normal front row location in Section 305 to the fifth row, a major downgrade in my opinion.  They moved my opening day seat back a row also, which is actually equally as infuriating because that is a game I actually want to go to. 

In the short term, I can see the business sense of what the Padres are doing.  By moving me to Sunday, moving A plan holders to Monday, the Padres can now sell more seats at the “dynamic” higher price due to assumed high demand.  So yay.  A short term revenue gain for the team.  Not sure how this benefits me, the person that has invested a significant amount of money and time into season tickets, and thus the team.  But good for the 2013 fiscal year results, I guess.  But is this really what the team wants to do?  Alienate those that are investing so much time attending the games, money purchasing season tickets, beer and food, and those that are clearly among the most fervent of fans?  Especially coming off of a relatively lackluster season, and not going to lie, probably heading into a relatively lackluster season (but let’s hope not…). 

In my opinion Tom Garfinkel’s response was lackluster.  I wasn’t among the group that was surprised by this policy.  Anyone that looked at their schedule months ago would have seen the change.  The Padres emailed a notice that STH could buy “up to six tickets for each Yankees game.”  Great, right?  Except, this is what we should have been able to do anyways.  It’s what we can do for every other game, and in my opinion, shouldn’t be any different for a series against the Yankees.  So I don’t see a net positive in that “concession” made by the Padres sales department.  If I had cared at all about the Yankees series (which I don’t), I’d be furious.  I ended up trading my Sunday Yankees game for an additional Saturday night ticket for a game we had a ticket for already.  Unfortunately for the A plan member,s, they are screwed harder.  The Padres allow a weekend for weekend ticket trade, or a weekday for weekday ticket trade.  The A planners lost a weekend, Sunday game, and gained a weekday ticket.  They don’t have an easy trade path to trade their new Monday night ticket for the Yankees Saturday night game, like me, the B planner, could have done. 

Outside of the nuts and bolts issues related to swapping tickets to try and see an inevitably underwhelming series against the stupid, overrated Yankees, it’s just a total lack of respect for those that have invested so much into the team.  I’d say it’s an uncharacteristically tone deaf move by Tom Garfinkel and the front office, whom I feel generally do a good job of improving the STH program and the gameday experience.  This is especially true when the Change the Padres movement is gaining traction and media exposure, and a new ownership is supposedly trying to show the community that they aren’t just treating the Padres as another private equity acquisition (Seidler Equity Partners) that they will wring profits and value out of before setting them adrift Jeffrey Loria style. 

As long as we’re covering the season ticket holders getting boned, there are a few small, nagging issues that need to be addressed:

1.  Season ticket holders were promised an “annual members vote” at the season ticket holders meeting.  This was supposed to be an issue of substance, where “members voices can be heard”.  I never believed the vote would be for anything binding (although that would be nice), but the front office didn’t even try.  As soon as the crowd questions were asked at the meeting, everyone was dismissed to run around the field (which was awesome), with no vote held.  The power of the members via democratic vote was never to be felt.  Now, I fear it will be forgotten and will be chalked up to another “broken promise” people will inevitably harp on.  But imagine the potential for this.  Possible voting issues that the Padres could actually institute policy based off of their members popular vote: getting rid of Widmer and Kona beer booths and replacing them with more San Diego craft brews, voting on which beers to carry on tap at the craft beer plaza behind home plate, a specialty food item to be offered monthly/quarterly/season/whatever.  Obviously, they aren’t going to allow “members” to vote on baseball decisions or personnel decisions, but I’d be happy voting on gameday experience type issues.  Very happy.

2.  Understanding there are issues getting season tickets printed and whatnot, it is outrageous that we didn’t receive our tickets until this week, AFTER Opening Day.  Especially after numerous e-mails from account specialists saying we’d have them last week.  Why couldn’t we get them a month ago?  I reupped LAST SEPTEMBER.  Why’s it matter?  I tend to trade out a lot of my tickets for either additional seats I’m going to, or other games when I have a trip or vacation planned for a day a game falls on.  Had the online account management system been functional and loaded with our tickets weeks ago, I could have done this online.  Alas, with the season already started, the trading function is still inoperable.  To do a series of trades, you really need the tickets in hand to efficiently get it done at the box office.  Instead of getting their most valued customers their merchandise in a prompt fashion, I received them after Opening Day, shipped to my house after requesting THREE TIMES that they be held at Will Call so I didn’t lose a day of ticket sales to make my trading even more difficult than it already is.  As a result, I was unable to add a ticket next to my seats for all April and May games because seats had been sold already.  Thanks for looking out for me Padres sales department.

Now that I got this off my chest, hopefully it spurs some discussion and helps Padres “members” to receive better service and benefits for their substantial investments.  On the bright side, I still get to go to a ton of Padres games, which is obviously awesome.  But it’d be nice if the “member” thing actually meant we were valued and that our voices were heard by the Padres.  Regardless of the actual service issued by them (which is overall good I think), the fact that we are even talking about it means that the Padres have failed.

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