So I went to the Monday night game expecting to throw some Mat Latos fat jokes around and hopefully not see the Padres get shut off. But even more unexpected than the hot streak that started that Monday night with a victory was how my tweets about the Padres reducing the San Diego craft beer quantities from 24 ounces to 20 ounces took hold. As I tweeted that night, I was a little perplexed about whether SD craft beers had always been 20 ounces, or if my mind was playing tricks on me, because I distinctly remembered them being 24 ounces a few weeks prior. As I found out, I was right, the Padres snuck a reduction in quantity in during the Dodgers homestand a couple weeks before. Jay Posner from the U-T started asking questions via Twitter, which led to Matthew T. Hall from the U-T getting involved. And boy did he. It all culminated in an article that documented everything, got Padres comment, and hopefully incited the public (it even sat atop utsandiego.com for a day). My life’s dream to start a Lobshots-esque viral controversy had come true (except this was about something that kind of really mattered, not an umpire throwing gum).
Matthew Hall pretty well covered it, and I don’t have anything to add to the reporting. I am left with a few questions and a bit of analysis due to the Padres woefully inadequate and evasive statements. To recap, here is what Padres vice president Scott Marshall said regarding beergate:
“Marshall apologized in a telephone interview and said the ballpark began selling smaller cups after the team’s “first or second home stand” — which were played in April.” – U-T
“‘It was just an honest mistake on our concessionaire partner’s side,” Marshall said. “It comes down really to the cost of what it is…. It’s a mistake coming from the fact that we introduced so many ‘super’ crafts, and our concessionaire, for whatever reason, missed it.
“It was just an unfortunate experience and we corrected it, and we hope we didn’t affect anybody adversely or give them a poor experience,” he said. “We apologize.”
“What do you say to the fans who will still complain they’re now paying more for beer?” I asked.
“We have a variety of pricing for all our fans from $5 to $15.25 depending on type, size and alcohol content,” he said.” – U-T
So basically, according to the Padres, they have known about the “mistake” since April, and it is really all Delaware North’s fault, who is the Padres’ concessions contractor.
1. I don’t see this as just an “honest mistake”. Fans have been defrauded by the Padres since April. The team’s signage at the stands, corroborated by many including Matthew Hall, had said 24 ounces. Fans buying a beer would reasonably expect to receive 24 ounces. In fact, this is the entire basis for weights and measures, as well as labeling, laws. When you buy gas, you expect that the pump is giving you a gallon when you are charged a gallon. In this case, the team is legally bound to deliver 24 ounces to the customer, as that is what has been labeled for that product. The fact that they didn’t, is outright fraud in the amount of 17% of the purchase price. On one beer, that’s not much, but when played out to cover 4 homestands’ total SD craft beer sales, that’s a lot of money that is legally and duly owed to those customers. An enterprising young lawyer could assemble a nice class action lawsuit on behalf of these defrauded customers, who, yes Scott Marshall, were affected “adversely”.
2. So, in the end, we’re talking a couple bucks per beer. It’s not like it’ll kill us. But I think it’s an example of a bigger issue with this management team: the gradual erosion and elimination of the things that were good values for the fans in the name of crass revenue maximization. For years, the first come first serve Western Metal Supply porch was lauded by tour guides and the team. It was a great value, as even if you had a Park at the Park ticket (more on them later), if you were on the ball, you could land a stool at the porch. No longer. The team has monetized those seats into $40/game tickets. The Park at the Park was $5 not too long ago. Now you are looking at $10-15, depending on the game. To sit outside of the stadium and view a jumbotron. It’s no longer a value at all, considering you can get seats in sections 300-305 on Stubhub for $10. The National University sign, universally hated, is gigantic, blocks the small view of the field you used to be able to get at Proper Gastropub, and blocks the view of the skyline for many seats. All in the name in a little more marginal revenue. Which brings us to beer. The team is awful this season. The team is boring to watch. In most cases, other teams CUT prices to beer to keep people coming out to the park. This management team sees an opening and sneaks in a price hike (a quantity cut IS a price hike) to beer. At one time, the 24 ounces for $10.75, or even for $11.50, could be justified as a good deal. I had out of town friends go to the games with me be outraged at the beer price. I rationalized it as, hey, it’s basically two 12 ounce cans of GOOD BEER for $11.50; $5.75 for a can of Calico Ale is not that bad, especially for a ballpark. Now I can’t even use that rationalization. This is so totally tone-deaf to the sentiment of the fans by Mike Dee and this management team.
3. Assuming Scott Marshall’s statements are true, that reveals that he, the VP of ballpark operations, is so woefully inadequate at his job that it’s unbelievable. Of course, they are more likely not true, but that’s besides the point. You’re telling me that the VP of ballpark operations, who walks around the park all the time checking on operations, and that all of his staff under him, never noticed that beers were selling at the “wrong price”? Beer prices, one of the primary drivers of concessions revenue, was never noticed by anyone in ballpark operations staff??!?! I find that very difficult to believe.
4. If you really want 24 ounces for $11.50, you still have options. Inbev/AB beer Goose Island is still available at that price. Not shocking considering they are a major sponsor. The same goes for Kona, who sponsors a large group sales area along the left field line. Still available (FOR NOW) at $11.50/24 ounces. It’s a shame that after all the empty talk of expanding the local craft beer base at Petco, we are now being economically discouraged from buying those beers.
In the end, I’m not one of those bomb throwers who will say “let’s just never go to any games!” I like going to games because I love the Padres. I don’t necessarily enjoy feeling gouged or cheated, but I like going to Padres games. I do hope Matthew Hall keeps pushing the Padres for change as he has the pull and readership to actually get something done. We can only hope Mike Dee, aka the Turtle from Master of Disguise, gets the message.
P.S. The best part of all of this is that yet again, the LAMEstream media is refusing to say Padres Jagoff in print/on the air waves. I was hilariously pseudonym’d to “one fan” in the post and article. I feel like I’m missing out on millions in ad revenue due to the choice of names of this blog.