Whenever a Major League Baseball organization changes ownership, there are expectations for the club as it begins its transition. Fans get excited over the possibility of a change for the better. A long-term strategy is generally put into place by new management, emphasizing a commitment to winning. The highlights during a regime change are front office stability, capital injection into payroll, (global) brand development, fan engagement through social media and community outreach.
For each of these five revitalizing options, there are several supporting reasons why San Diego Padres fans can expect them to result from the recent sale of the Padres and contribute to the construction of a successful National League team.
(Photo courtesy of BittenandBound.com)
Building a winning club always begins on the outside, with the fans, because income from fan-related purchases are the primary revenue driver for MLB organizations. Therefore, it is vital for an organization to reach out to and become a part of the local community, which is especially important in a city like San Diego that is more of a "football town" than a baseball one. Community outreach will pave the way for a favorable identity for the new ownership and team, and hopefully attract additional fans, providing more money for the club.
(Photo courtesy of Padres.com)
As we have seen several times this season, MLB teams are using social media to engage with their fans, even offering giveaways to those who participate in "social media nights" at the ballparks. The purpose is similar to the community outreach except that in practice, the social media efforts have all been offered to fans only if they attend the games. They've been more of a short-term set of actions rather than the long-term fan development demonstrated with the community outreach strategy.
Somehow the Padres' sales team was recently named the top sales staff in MLB for the second straight year. Taking a peek at the club's ticket sales department and it is easy to see why. (For comparison, here is the Red Sox ticket sales department staff.) However, as of July 2, the Padres still ranked just No. 22 in MLB attendance this season. Clearly the organization must get creative and change the status quo if it hopes to fill seats. I am confident that the new ownership group will seek to improve the fan engagement policies since Peter O'Malley has previous ownership experience.
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Once the Padres are able to regain community support, they will receive increased revenue from merchandise sales, providing more income for upper management to use in building a winner on the field. San Diego has a large Central American population and so the Padres can ramp up the marketing outside of the US through in-game promotions, community events and youth programs, as exemplified by MLB's International Game Development Programs. Building foreign partnerships and becoming a recognizable international brand is within reach for the Padres. The foreign exposure should contribute to delivering an exciting, highly visible team.
(Photo courtesy of Gaslampball.com)
Ever since Jeff Moorad's ownership bid was struck down by the MLB owners, the San Diego Padres have had a proverbial "elephant in the room" with regards to the direction of the club. The team has seemed to live in a constant state of flux for a few seasons, even during Jed Hoyer's short stint as GM. Roster moves have been made without direction (acquiring Carlos Quentin and his $8 million 2012 salary but passing on pitcher Mark Appel, widely expected to have been the No. 1 draft pick in the 2012 MLB Draft).
Over the past few season, washed up veterans (Orlando Hudson, Brad Hawpe, Jason Barlett, Miguel Tejada) have either signed one-year, charity deals or stuck around out of the sheer lack of options. The Padres have been fielding talent-less squads that barely sport any meaningful name recognition, to say the least. In the draft, the Padres have been consistently selecting players in the early rounds who were considered easier signings (Matt Bush, Max Fried) instead of choosing the best available players (Justin Verlander, Mark Appel) for fear of having to dish out a team-unfriendly signing bonus, even though the players would technically be under cost control for six years.
New ownership with a solid structure that will eliminate much of the uncertainty that has plagued the organization. No longer will Major League assets have to be traded at the deadline and fans can look forward to not having a turnstile of faceless players every year. Bringing in a savvy, hungry, young GM (Rick Hahn comes to mind) will show the city of San Diego that ownership is standing behind its team and is ready to provide resources to build a championship caliber club.
(Photo courtesy of Rob Tringali/Getty Images North America)
For long-term success, an MLB team must attract fans to attend its games. We have discussed a number of strategies that will enable the Padres to do so under the new ownership. However, there is a short-term strategy that will spark continued loyalty: injecting capital into the club's payroll.
This will benefit the club in two ways. First, the fans will see that the ownership cares about the club and so it will be inspired to give their time and effort to support the club. Secondly, spending money allows upper management to acquire star-studded talent, further attracting fans and building their trust in an ownership who is dedicated to building a winner.