Let’s admit it: the Padres are not the most engaging team to watch every day after choosing to move some of the so-called “stars” (Kemp, Shields, Upton’s, Kimbrel) and electing to rebuild around Wil Myers, the 91st pick from the 2009 draft. Yet, we must accept the reality that charismatic personalities and super stars help grow fan-bases and help bring them to the ball park even when the team is struggling. Fans flock to the ball park to watch their heroes perform (envision the sight of a fan with a cold beer watching Clayton Kershaw on the mound). Unfortunately for the Padre fan, there is no such luxury, but there definitely is hope…hope in the form of Myers, Hedges, Renfroe, Margot and the latest $6.7 million signee, Mackenzie Gore.
Under such circumstances, though, the footfalls to Petco park have continued to dwindle through 2017 as the Friars rank a lowly 20th, and the average attendance per game has dropped to a miserable 25,138, with the numbers continuing to slide with every passing game. The attendance for the last four games the Padres have played are 20,463, 20,386, 25,477 and 31,749 respectively. For comparison, the average in 2016 was 29,030 and 30,367 in 2015. Only 100 miles up north, the Dodgers are leading the league in the number of footfalls and average a very healthy 44,586 footfalls per game. Despite being last in AL west, and minus Madison Bumgarner for a large part of the season, the Giants still average a respectable 41,627.
These numbers are definitely concerning and warrant immediate attention. The introduction of 5 win pass for the month of June has obviously not gone well with the fans and the numbers are only going further south. It can be difficult to have the patience to pay 99$ upfront and wait to see the Padres win 5 games, especially walking into the Petco park every single night knowing very well that the team could lose in the first couple of innings.
How could the Padres address this complex situation ? It’s definitely not going to be easy. For starters, they must continue to grow devout fan-base, and this obviously takes time. Perhaps, having the likes of a Mackenzie Gore promoting the game to San Diego kids, offering cheaper daily game prices or more enticing season ticket packages, and cheaper beer and food could go a long way towards fan engagement and growth. It’s a long road ahead, but the addition of players like MacKenzie Gore to the organization is revitalizing.