I don’t think there’s many Padres fans that think the Jeff Moorad regime was a great ownership group. The team certainly didn’t thrive under them, and Moorad oversaw the great Fox Sports San Diego fleecing of the team when he took hundreds of millions in advance money when selling the team for a big profit. The opinions on his head marketing guy, Tom Garfinkel, are mixed. Many blame him for the more recent uber-mediocre teams, but let’s remember, he was a marketing guy that was thrust into the position of Team President because no one else was around to take the job. People also forget that going to Petco Park was an overall mediocre gameday experience before Garfinkel sunk his claws into things. Remember the days when the Toyota Terrace was closed to the public in a pathetic attempt to make loge seating seem exclusive? Regardless of the good/bad you think are attributed to Tom Garfinkel, he’s gone now, and much of his work is left behind. Or at least was left behind. While no official announcements were made, the Mike Dee/Wayne Partello marketing team has started a policy of Degarfinkelization of Petco Park, removing and ending many of the programs Garfinkel put in place. While Dee/Partello (Deetello) have done a lot of good in terms of bringing in new vendors, running good promotions like the Swing for Your Seats campaign, extended giveaway nights to all in attendance, and starting new TV initiatives like Padres Social Hour, they have also reportedly been Degarfinkelizing programs for the sole purpose of removing the last vestiges of what the previous regime had in place.
Padres Trail did a great job of detailing the quiet removal of the Padres military logo from merchandise (although we saw this week that the team is using it for certain in-game promotions on the scoreboard). It wasn’t a huge surprise for anyone that went to Fanfest as the team was blowing out anything with the military logo for $10-$20 including $100+ jackets. This was a shame as the logo celebrated Navy tradition, and as much as the Padres try to ignore the local Navy presence and continually celebrate the Marines, the Navy is the core of the San Diego military community. It was also a rad logo, that among the back the brown brigade, was one of the few instances of acceptable blue Padres wear. As Padres Trail reported, “He [Padres store employee] implied that because the logo was a Tom Garfinkel initiative it had fallen out of favor.” Very petty reason to get rid of such a noble effort.
There are two other Degarfinkelization initiatives that have raised my ire in the past few weeks as well. As I mentioned in my Secrets From the Ushers post, the team has quietly eliminated Breakfast at the Park. I know we all had a good guffaw about Garfinkel’s Breakfasttown USA comments, but for anyone that actually went to Breakfast at the Park, it was pretty cool. Similar to Swing For Your Seats, it’s really awesome to just step foot on the field. It was even cooler to combine this with eating bacon and pancakes and having players playing catch 20 feet from you. As a season ticket holder, it was always an awesome perk to be able to email your sales rep and get reservations for breakfast. With family in town last weekend, it was the perfect opportunity to take them to a unique on-field experience and catch a game afterwards. Unfortunately, after hearing from the ushers that it was done for, I canceled plans of attending that game as sans breakfast, it was a tougher sell for my sports-gene challenged family. As the ushers told me, employee participation and thus labor costs were minimal to run Breakfast at the Park. There was always demand, as there was always a long line for tables on Sunday mornings. Even as a break even activity, it added value to season ticket holders packages, and really, just added a unique opportunity to build bonds with the team. The ushers believed new management believed this was one of Garfinkel’s signature gameday experience programs, and that that was the reason why it was eliminated.
The other Degarfinkelization program cancellation is apparently the away game viewing at Park at the Park. Garfinkel opened up the Park at the Park for every away game and showed the game on the jumbotron. I saw on the Tweeter that this effort was no more. This is a shame, as the cost to the Padres was minimal. I can vouch that it was awesome to eat your lunch during day games and watch the game at the Park at the Park. A lot of memories were made at these Away games at the park, and for something that doesn’t cost much if anything, it seems petty to get rid of it in an effort to wash their hands of Garfinkelism.
Look, I get it, new management team comes in and wants to create their own signature programs. But most of us can agree that not everything that happened under the Moorad/Garfinkel regime was bad. There’s no reason to get rid of programs that were popular just because Garfinkel put them in place. Hopefully Deetello can reconsider and give these Garfinkel initiatives new life. Maybe sell craft beer at them, their #1 focus this season seems to be to maximize beer sales revenue anyways.