City approves deal to increase events at Petco Park

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SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego City Council Monday unanimously signed off on a plan that could result in more events taking place at Petco Park during the baseball off-season.

"I don't think this is a good deal for the city," said Councilmember Lorie Zapf.  "I think it's going to be potentially a great deal for the city."

The action amends the basic agreement between the city of San Diego and the Padres, which have management responsibilities over the East Village facility. Padres officials say the amendments will improve financial incentives to hold more events.

"We as an organization think a year-round Petco Park is good for the city, good for the community and good for us," said Erik Greupner, team's senior vice president of business administration.

Previously, the Padres received 30 percent of revenue derived from special events held during the fall and winter. The team wants its share raised to 70 percent, the amount received for special events during the baseball season.

The Padres, which co-own the ballpark with the city, also cover some operating expenses, so the minority share of revenue is effectively a disincentive for booking events between the end of the baseball season and March 1.

The Padres lost money on a November 2010 concert series that featured Jewel, Colbie Caillat, John Legend and Macy Gray, according to Greupner.

In exchange for the higher portion of the proceeds, the team will guarantee the city at least $300,000 in special event revenue annually and up its annual payment to the Ballpark Capital Expenditure Reserve Fund from $250,000 to $1 million. The city will also not have to suffer financial consequences if a planned event turns out to be a flop.

A staff report estimated the city's revenue could reach $637,500 in the 2014-15 fiscal year under the deal, and that the increase in capital funding would benefit city coffers.

"If (the Padres) do better, we're going to do better,'' Councilman David Alvarez said.

According to the mayor's office, East Village business owners, organizations and residents have expressed concerns over reduced business at the ballpark in the fall and winter. Several area businesses have failed since the park's opening, and that can be partly attributed to a lack of year-round events, according to a report.

The Downtown San Diego Partnership surveyed downtown retailers, and 70 percent said their business suffered when the Padres were not playing, mainly because of a loss of foot traffic.

"To create a while portfolio of events that can utilize the stadium and interject crowds in here, that want to come down and spend money with retail, food and beverage, it is a great opportunity for the whole area," said Bubs at the Ballpark owner Todd Brown.

The city made big money in four of the first five off-seasons of Petco Park's existence, fueled by an annual rugby tournament and concerts by the Rolling Stones and Madonna. However, with no rugby and no major concerts, revenue dipped to $95,000 in 2011 and $381,000 last year, according to city documents.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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