John Moores’ sale of the San Diego Padres to a group led by former Arizona Diamondbacks CEO Jeff Moorad must bring joy to practically every die-hard Padres fan.
With Moores consumed with a prolonged divorce, you could understand his not showing up at Petco Park last season. But who could blame him?
The Pads stunk out the joint on their way to 99 losses, a total that harkens back to the dismal days of the early 1970s when the Pads lost 102 games two years in a row.
So when news arrived that Moorad was buying the club, there was indeed joy in Padreville. Moorad will purchase the team in a five-year deal , his group takes one-third ownership immediately, assumes controlling interest in three years, and outright ownership in five.
Coincidently, at the same news conference that Moorad detailed the $500 million plus deal, Padres CEO Sandy Alderson said he would be exiting the front office.
That caused even wider smiles among hometown fans, many of whom have been clamoring to get rid of Alderson, and his “Moneyball” strategy, which involves using statistical analysis to hire talented, younger players on their way up at far less pay than marquee players.
Thanks to Alderson, who Moores hired in 2005, the Padres go into this season without two of their best players, Trevor Hoffman and Khalil Greene. And instead of negotiating with either star, the Padres struck a deal with Brian Giles, who’s been dealing with significant personal issues.
Then there’s the fire sale Moores mandated to make the team more attractive to buyers. It wasn’t as bad as the first fire sale under former owner Tom Werner and his gang, but nearly so.
They would have dispatched Jake Peavy, one of the best hurlers in baseball, if the price was right, and may still do so.
On the plus side, give props to Moores, who stuck with construction of the $450 million Petco Park even when everything seemed lost.
But he came out of the arrangement fairly well.
After all, when he bought the team in late 1994, he paid $84 million. Now he’s getting more than five times that figure.
Well, not really. Soon to be ex-wife Becky is taking half, but still, this was a shrewd purchase.
Not as shrewd as his investment in Peregrine Systems, but right up there.
While fans are optimistic, don’t expect all that much to change this season.
Moores will still be majority owner, and Moorad will need time to figure things out.
Moorad, a resident of Newport Beach, resigned from the Diamondbacks on Jan. 3 after agreeing to purchase the Padres.
At the news conference, Moorad stated his goal of winning back the fans, saying, “We want to make an affordable product for the fans.”
Amen. The team took some steps as the recession struck last summer, such as two-for-one days and discounting premium seats in Toyota Terrace, but concession prices are still way too high.
Moorad’s reputation is that of a savvy businessman, a former agent who represented players such as Manny Ramirez, Shawn Green and Eric Karros. He joined the Diamondbacks in 2004 with an investment group that steered the franchise back to being among the best in the National League.
In his tenure in Phoenix, the Snakes finished first in the NL West in 2007; and second twice, in 2005 and last year.
Given the difficult times ahead, Moorad taking over the Padres can’t happen fast enough.
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Padres To Start Cactus League Play: Pitchers and catchers report to the Padres’ spring training camp in Peoria, Ariz., on Feb. 14, with the first spring training game slated for Feb. 25 against the Seattle Mariners.
The team said last year that it’s keeping ticket prices at the same level as 2008. But about 10,000 seats, or about a quarter of Petco Park’s capacity, will see decreases in prices, some of up to $8 a game.
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Chargers Also Maintaining Prices: Like most every pro sports team having difficulty in filling seats, the San Diego Chargers said there will be no price increases for season tickets that went on sale for the 2009 season last week.
Single game tickets range from $48 to $140. The team said it is expanding family section seats, where drinking is prohibited, to 1,300 seats at $48 per game.
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Q Still Hosts Events: The Chargers’ season ended last month, but Qualcomm Stadium is the site of a few upcoming events that could help put a dent in the city’s deficit.
On Feb. 14, a supercross motorcycle competition takes place that’s expected to draw at least 55,000, maybe even more than the Monster Jam truck series last month, says stadium General Manager Mike McSweeney. A Jehovah’s Witnesses convention is scheduled for two weeks in June, and perhaps sometime in June or July, the Mexican national soccer team may come for a game, he says.
Mike Allen covers sports business for the San Diego Business Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com, or by calling 858-277-6359.