Padres Win, Lose at Concession Stands

By Bob Hansen
|  Monday, Apr 12, 2010  |  Updated 8:45 PM PDT
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San Diego Padres 2010

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Padres Win, Lose at Concession Stands

Before the first pitch on Monday, the folks who grill the dogs were rounding the bases.
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Before the first pitch at Petco Monday, the folks who grill the dogs were already rounding the bases.
   
They may not get the recognition or the salary of the big name players, but the concessionaires can make affect whether fans will come back to the ballpark.

Three hours before game time and Aaron Thompson is already grillling hot dogs. He'll have a busy day carrying on the traditions of the game, stocking up on peanuts and Cracker Jacks and everything else that's today's baseball.

"We got everything from hot dogs to ice cream to pizzas to Anthony's Fish & Chips," concessions worker Kenneth Elliott said. "You name it, we got it."

Petco Park has deals this year that Padre officials hope will bring people back to the ballpark, even though they dropped the popular 5 for $5 offer.

"Five for $5 was a great promotion," Padres spokeswoman Laura Broderick said. "This year what we've done is lower the prices across a lot of our concessions."

Prices for certain hats and T-shirts are now below eight bucks. The price for beer is down, as is parking at some lots. There's a kids meal -- even a gluten-free food stand. So do people come for the game or the food?

"I think they come out to do both: To have a good time, enjoy the game and eat good food," said concession worker Rose Balogh.

While a good hot dog will improve the fan experience, it's still wins and losses that put people in the seats.

"Ticket sales are the most important, so that's very critical for us," Broderick said.

It's critical that the team win on the field to keep people in the stands, but for the folks who don't swing a bat or run the bases -- for those who clean the windows, draw the lines or fold the napkins -- it's about service.

Something that's always a winner for the team are giveaway nights or days. On opening day, they're handing out T-shirts. This year, the Padres will be handing out five different bobble-head dolls, something they didn't do last year. While die-hard fans scoff at the freebie fans, the promotions work. From beach towels to Slinkies, you'll see them at this year's games.

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