San Diego Business Journal

Padres' Hispanic-Relations Director Leaves Team

Spirit, Nokia Kick Off New Sponsor Relationship

Denise T. Ward
Staff Writer

Enrique Morones, a key player in the San Diego Padres' relationship with the Latino community on both sides of the border, recently left the club.

Morones, the team's vice president of Hispanic and international marketing since 1999, said the Padres have implemented some changes since new President Bob Vizas took over. One of those changes was disbanding the Hispanic marketing department.

"They will not have a Hispanic marketing department as it was," Morones said. "The Padres are streamlining the organization and decided to do everything under one marketing department."

Morones said he joined the Padres specifically to separate Hispanic and other minority marketing efforts from the main department. His idea was backed by former president Larry Lucchino.

But Lucchino is no longer in charge, and new management has implemented some changes.

Morones said he left a blueprint for what needs to be done to focus on the Hispanic and other minority fan base, but said it was time for him to leave.

Morones became the first director of Hispanic marketing in major league sports when he joined the Padres in 1995.

He was seen as a pivotal player in the Padres marketing relationship with the Hispanic community on both sides of the border.

He took part in setting up La Primera Serie, a three-game series in 1996 between the Padres and New York Mets in Monterrey. That series marked baseball's first-ever games played outside of the United States or Canada.

In 1999, the Padres returned to Monterrey, opening the major league season against the Colorado Rockies in La Apertura Internacional. The club played an exhibition game in Culiacan last season.

Morones also had a hand in opening the first major league merchandise store in Tijuana in 1995. He also helped create the club's Noticias Padres magazine, published quarterly for the last two years.

"We appreciate Enrique's many contributions to the organization and wish him the best in his future endeavors," Vizas said in a statement. "With Hispanic marketing having become integrated within every aspect of our operation over the last six years, we look forward to continuing the progress that was begun while Enrique was with the team."

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On Call: The San Diego Spirit has signed a new member for the upcoming season.

Phone manufacturer and supplier Nokia recently joined the women's pro soccer team with a one-year marketing partnership. Nokia's relationship with the team will be seen on the field and in the community.

The company will be involved in two grass-roots programs, hosted by the Spirit. Nokia will be a presenting sponsor for the team's Got Milk 3v3 Soccer Shootout Tournament, and the title sponsor of the team's new Sporting Geography Curriculum Program for San Diego County area schools.

"Nokia has always been a strong supporter of soccer in San Diego," said Jana Steel, the Spirit's director of business development and partnerships. "They have an opportunity to extend their brand through our community and in-stadium marketing programs."

Season tickets for the Spirit's 2002 season are on sale. Individual game ticket prices will be announced at a later date.

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On Course: Local golf shaft manufacturer Aldila has made Stadium Golf their official product testing and evaluation site.

Aldila signed an agreement to test their equipment at the golf course at Interstate 15 and Aero Drive. Aldila currently performs extensive testing in a lab environment with robots, launch monitors, computers and other high-tech equipment. The agreement with Stadium Golf will help the company project the testing into a real-life environment.

The company was expected to begin testing as early as Dec. 1.

The deadline for the next Sports Biz column is Monday, Dec. 17. Send related items to dward@sdbj.com.