City Council to consider more special events at Petco Park in baseball offseason


City News Service

A plan to increase the number of special events held at Petco Park during baseball’s off-season was forwarded to the full San Diego City Council today.

The council’s Rules Committee unanimously approved the idea.

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 the 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.

Councilman Todd Gloria called the park “a public asset that’s under- utilized.”

The committee proposed changing a provision in the city’s agreement with the Padres that gives the team only 30 percent of revenue derived from special events held during baseball’s off-season.

The team, which co-owns Petco Park with the city, also covers some operating expenses, and 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 Erik Greupner, the team’s senior vice president of business administration.

The new plan calls for the Padres to get 70 percent of event revenue year around, and the team increasing its annual payment to the Ballpark Capital Expenditure Reserve Fund from $250,000 to $1 million, as well as guaranteeing the city at least $300,000 in special event revenue annually.

The report estimated the city’s revenue could reach $637,500 in the 2014- 15 fiscal year under the proposed deal.

The city made more than that 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.

“Obviously, if we keep on the same course, we can expect little income other than from the Padres (games),” council President Tony Young said. “There’s very little going on there (in the off-season).”

The committee members asked staffers to bring the proposal to the full council at an unspecified date with answers on certain concerns, including whether the city would incur expenses from the additional events, and how much more hotel room tax and sales tax revenue could be expected.