Last night I went to the Padres' Town Hall Meeting. I'm not going to steal Gaslamp Ball's thunder and recap the event, but I will say that when I end up at things like this I am always surprised at the differences in access granted by San Diego's baseball and football teams. Heck, this can be seen right here on SB Nation with GLB's stories of hanging with Tom Garfinkel (yes, he really has an SBN account) compared to my stories of meeting A.J. Smith in a parking lot once for a minute.
Here's what the Town Hall Meeting did for me, as a fan.
- It gave the front office some personality. Jeff Moorad, Bud Blackand Tom Garfinkel all took the time to crack some jokes when they could. Jed Hoyer circumnavigated around revealing too much in his answers, and somehow seemed really nice in doing so. Trevor Hoffman showed that although he's one of the greatest closers of all time, he has not yet grasped the idea that he should pause when the crowd is cheering because nobody is going to be able to hear him. The point is, it makes each of these guys seem a lot more human and normal. The Chargers could use more of that.
- After they did their speeches, the Padres let the fans run on the outfield of Petco Park. There is no harm in doing this, with baseball season still months away, but the fans get freaking amped for it. Not only that, but all of the front office guys were hanging out in the outfield as well. They were just mingling with the crowd, taking pictures, doing whatever. The phrase "Ivory Tower" was never even thought of the entire night, although often times it is with the Chargers.
- The Padres, in building a close relationship with their fans, have a terrific grasp on what the fans want. Cheaper beer? Sure. Cheaper tickets? No problem, and we'll even give season ticket holders bigger discounts. You like beer? Beer fests! You like the beer fests? More alcohol-theme festivals this year! It seems so easy once it's lined out, but whens the last time you remember the Chargers doing something more for the general populous than "Here's that ticket you paid for, enjoy the game and your ridiculously over-priced beer and food." Perhaps I just don't know enough Chargers season ticket holders to know what they do for them.
- Sam was telling me that his family has a pair of Padres season tickets that they share with 3 other families. Later, when a man walked by in a snazzy Padres jacket, Sam said "See that jacket? They gave that to all the season ticket holders last year. Even though we share our tickets, they sent a jacket to all 4 families with our last names embroidered on them." That's called "Going the extra mile", and it's something that's starting to become commonplace with the Friars (sorry Tom).
If the Chargers were to stay in San Diego, I'd love to see them get more fan friendly. I would love to sit around and quote moves with A.J. Smith, or watch Dean Spanos get up and tell jokes to ease the tension. I'd love to have a Philip Rivers or Ryan Mathews bobblehead because....why the heck not? Everyone loves giveaways, and I'm sure most of that bill is footed by the advertisers who get to splash their company name on the front of the thing.
I'm aware that football and baseball are different sports and different markets. I'm also aware that I'm not a season ticket holder for either, and there's probably lots of things that are done that I am not aware of. All I'm saying is, my own personal perception is that the Padres seem to try really hard to please their fans and the Chargers seem content to cash the checks and call it a day. I would very much like that opinion to change in the next few years.