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People like free stuff, even if the free stuff costs money. Proof lies inside of Petco Park on what had become the rare giveaway, everything from beach towels to pet scarves to tee-shirts to bobble-head dolls.

During such giveaways, the ball park is usually packed. The Padres organization had gotten away from that in recent years, tailing off slowly, to the point where there were less than a dozen such special game days. Apparently, that’s changing.

There are going to be more trinkets offered on certain evenings at Padres games, starting soon. Folks seem to flock to the games for them, and apparently the new ownership group of the Padres headed by Ron Fowler is paying attention.

“The fans asked and we listened,” said Fowler according to a press release. “Providing more, unique giveaway items and promotional events is our way of showing Padres fans that their feedback and their support matter to us. We appreciate them, our players appreciate them, and we’re excited to spend our summer together at Petco Park.”

It’s worth noting that 2013 average paid attendance per game is down almost 1,000 from the 2012 season. And the 2012 season was statistically far worse than the current one.

So perhaps, Ron is combining good business sense with an opportunity to attempt some goodwill with a perennially frustrated fan base in terms of the performance of the ball team. It is also worth noting that none of the additional giveaways have sponsors attached to them as the press release currently reads.

KidsFest will begin on Sunday, July 14th, and will continue every Sunday through the remainder of the season. At the Park in the Park there will be a Fun Zone complete with “bounce houses, face painters, balloon artists, and more kid-friendly activities” so your munchkins can wear themselves out while you grab a beer and take in a game.

Starting Tuesday, July 9th, Taco Tuesdays will commence. No idea about the tacos there ($1 each), but you can also get a Park pass for $5. (Note to Ron: This could be enhanced by hiring some good Tijuana taco vendors, you haven’t lived until you’ve consumed a few tacos de birria off of a cart.)

Here’s the list of the enhanced giveaways, with helpful comments for Ron and Company:

Friday, July 12th, Padres Fedora. I like this one. And the press box could use some, to, you know, help to promote the Padres (big hint, Ron).

Saturday, July 13th, Padres Smartphone Cover. I’m entirely unsure what this is, since I have a dumbphone. Mine can’t do anything other than make and take calls. But the cover is free, so it has to be awesome!

Friday, August 17th, SD Flip Flops. Love this one as well, except media are no longer allowed to wear go-aheads in the press box. Which is unfair. This is San Diego, not Chicago. (Still, Ron, delivering a few in the press box accidentally would be, you know, fortunate).

Friday, August 23rd, Padres Reusable Grocery Bags. Um. Ron, you’re stretching it with this one. Use the term tote bag. It’s more dignified.

Monday, September 2nd, $1 Hot Dogs. Now we’re talking. With mustard, onions, and jalapeños, all of which are available condiments at Petco Park.

Saturday, September 7th, Padres Luchador Mask. Is Alfredo Harp Helú behind this, the Mexican businessman and philanthropist and cousin of the famous Carlos Slim? Well, hey, you own 10% of the team and you certainly deserve some input.

Friday, September 20th, Padres BBQ Set. This is also on Hispanic Heritage Night, which begs the question, doesn’t the Luchador Mask belong here? Otherwise, I’m all over a free spatula with the long fork thingy and maybe something to poke the charcoal with. If this comes with an apron, I’m all in (again, hint-hint Ron, some of these should magically appear in the press box).

Saturday, September 21st, Padres/Xolos Soccer Scarf. Nothing says “soccer” like a scarf, especially when the team mascot is an overgrown Chihuahua called a Xoloitzcuintle. Better idea: Xolos sports socks. Soccer players don’t wear scarves. At least, not in Mexico.

This can’t lose for the Padres, by the way. Some of these giveaways are pretty neat ideas. And if you ever, say, have aspirations to become, say, a participant in lucha libre or can’t keep from dinging up your smartphone, then Ron Fowler is speaking your language. For myself, I could use a new pair of flip-flops and I imagine a fedora would look swell on me, and once I plunk down some cash for a barbeque, then some utensils would come in quite handy.

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Comments

aquarimary June 11, 2013 @ 8:39 a.m.

Ticket sales "down 1000" because we can't afford a 12 dollar "standing room only" ticket. That's what I paid to get a free "dog scarf"

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David Dodd June 11, 2013 @ 8:59 a.m.

To be fair to the Padres, ticket sales are up all over the leagues. To be fair to the fans, their product isn't yet worth the hike in prices. I found it funny that they called them "animal scarfs". Like, you could really put one on a cat or a parrot? I probably need to find out if "Park in the Park" customers get the giveaways, it seems as though that is the best value.

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aardvark June 11, 2013 @ 9:08 a.m.

Perhaps if the Padres dumped the "Dynamic" pricing that they use for ticket sales and post ticket prices that don't fluctuate. Dynamic pricing is dumb--post the ticket prices at the ticket windows and on pocket schedules. If the team gets good, you could raise ticket prices, but at least let fans know the price of the product.

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David Dodd June 11, 2013 @ 9:21 a.m.

When they started dynamic pricing last season, a lot of season ticket holders were outraged. During FanFest, I remember some that got an opportunity to do a Q & A with Tom Garfinkel, and man, they were pissed off. But that change reflects what many MLB teams have done (and sort of mirrors the NFL model). I do agree with you, in that baseball and specifically the Padres might be better off using the traditional method of pricing the seats straight across the board for all games. That's a good idea for a future column, I'll see if I can get some attending fans opinions of it.

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aardvark June 11, 2013 @ 1:56 p.m.

Ah, the old "well, everyone else is doing it" argument, and I know that's what they said. And it isn't so much the season ticket holders--it's the fans that might want to just catch a game now and then. "How much are the tickets today? Wait--they are how much next week for the same seat?"

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aardvark June 11, 2013 @ 9:03 a.m.

Actually, ticket sales are up 159/game over last season. Unfortunately, giveaway nights aren't the draw they used to be, although that may change. Back in the days of the late 1990's-early 2000's (until Lucchino left), Saturdays became known as "baseball night in San Diego"; the team was crappy during many of those years, but many Saturday nights the Padres drew close to 60,000 to the Q for the giveaways--which were NOT limited to the first 25,000 as they are now.

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David Dodd June 11, 2013 @ 9:13 a.m.

Interesting statistic there. If "sales" are up per game and paid attendance is down, then there is a loss in season ticket holders. And I was among the Saturday night flock that went to see the Friars at the Murph on Saturday nights. Those were the days. It was mostly Tony Gwynn and 8 scrubs against far superior teams, but as much of a dump as the Q was and is, it was fun and entirely affordable.

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