San Diego Business Journal

Since we're at midseason, what better time to review just how well our San Diego Padres are doing.

Not on the field. The team appears to be faring quite well there, either on top of their division or vying for first place with Arizona and Los Angeles. Who would have guessed the Snakes would be this good?

The focus here is at the gate, where the team has done much better than last season, thanks in no small part to the phenomenon of interleague play, or when teams from the American League play teams from the National League.

Interleague play celebrated its 10th year this season, and judging from the stats, it seems to be a success.

In 2007, games between the AL and NL teams drew a record 8.79 million in 252 games, which beat the previous high of 8.6 million set in 2006. The average game attendance this season was 34,905 compared with 34,097 last year.

At Petco Park, they saved the best of interleague for last when Red Sox Nation invaded San Diego and took two of three games. All three Boston games sold out months ago, and the attendance of 133,311 was a Petco record for a three-game series. The June 23 game featured the largest crowd of the season at Petco, drawing 44,457 fans.

I can't argue with the numbers. It's clear that many fans, including this one, enjoy watching teams from the opposing league and some of their stars.

It was fun watching Ichiro Suzuki, one of the game's greatest hitters, perform when the Mariners played here June 10, even though the Padres lost.

Yet even though these games count in the standings, and provide a chance to see different players, the concept of interleague play bothers me.

It's diluting separation of the leagues and the impact of the All-Star Game, and the World Series.

Before interleague play, these games meant so much more to me and many other fans.

Now, because teams from both leagues are regularly playing each other, the intensity level has definitely dropped a few notches.

Sure, some of the games, such as those between the Red Sox and Padres , possible World Series opponents this year , generate lots of excitement, and fans.

Yet, interleague also got us games with the likes of Tampa Bay and Baltimore, among the worst teams in baseball.

I am probably in the minority on this one, but my point is Major League Baseball instituted interleague play to increase attendance, generate more money for teams.

The lords of baseball dismissed all the tradition and real intensity that go along with keeping the two leagues separate.

I'm not the only one who probably would like to see MLB dump interleague competition.

The Padres went 6-9 for the year, including 2-7 at Petco Park, and probably wouldn't complain if the league decided to stop interleague play.

But that's not going to happen.

There's just too much money to be made, and that's what drives most decisions in professional sports these days sadly.

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Pads' Gate Up 10 Percent: The last homestand at Petco with Boston, and the one before that featuring Seattle and Los Angeles, helped boost total attendance through 38 games to 1.3 million, up from 1.17 million at the same time last season.

Looking at average attendance, the Padres are drawing 34,231, or 10 percent better than at the same time last season.

Sure, those games with a few AL teams helped, but the team is also winning, and benefiting from some nicer weather in recent weeks. That's also a big factor that brings out more fans.

So is giving away trinkets like yo-yos, floppy hats and batting helmets.

George Stieren, the Padres' director of business public relations, said the increase was likely due to a friendlier schedule that brought in the Dodgers for a big weekend series, and the Boston and Seattle games.

The two-for-one days on Thursday day games, which entails two tickets for the price of one at select areas, and two hot dogs for the price of one, was also working well, he said.

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Chargers Update: An analysis of sites for a new San Diego Chargers football stadium in Chula Vista has been completed, but consultants are still putting on the finishing touches. It was supposed to be completed by June, but it looks as though the earliest release date is mid-July.

Conducted by Cooper Robertson and financed by the Chargers, the study looks at four sites, two in the western part of San Diego County, and two in the east. The study is costing at least $220,000.

Meanwhile, the Chargers are investigating the possibility of building a stadium in Oceanside on a city-owned golf course.

That site has some potential if combined with the construction of Class A office space, said Chargers' stadium point man Mark Fabiani some time ago.

The Chargers are also paying for a professional analysis of the Oceanside site by GCI Advisors that includes gauging the demand for such office space, and alternative development concepts to accompany a football only stadium.

The Chargers are legally free to exit San Diego after the 2008 season, but would have to pay off $60 million in bonds remaining from the 1997 expansion of Qualcomm Stadium.

Another possible Chargers stadium player, National City, dropped out of the game a few months ago due to a lack of support from surrounding cities and the county.

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Shockwave Should Change Name To Survivors: It's been a strange road for the San Diego Shockwave, the indoor football team that debuted March 31 at Cox Arena.

Entering its final game of the regular season June 30, the team had a 9-1 record and was heading to the league playoffs, but just where and who it would play were still unclear.

"We're not sure exactly how it's going to be run, but we might play Fayetteville for the championship," said Jeff Sprowls, owner and general manager, late last week.

The reason for Sprowls' uncertainty goes to the heart of the problem: The league the team competes in, the National Indoor Football League, has been in tumult since the season began.

At least 13 of the league's 24 teams folded for a variety of reasons, leading to canceled games and disappointed players and fans.

"Of the 11 teams that are left, only four are really viable," Sprowls said. "This league has not lived up to its obligations, and fallen 99 percent short of what they said they'd do."

Sprowls said no matter what happens with the NIFL, he's going to field a team next season, but probably in another league.

He's already talked to a few alternate indoor football leagues, including the American Indoor Football Association, the United Indoor Football League, and af2. The latter is the same league that the defunct San Diego Riptide competed in before it folded two years ago.

Despite the tumult, the Shockwave has been able to survive and draw an average of 3,000 fans to home games.

Given what the team has had to endure, that's a winning season for sure.

Send any sports business news to Mike Allen via e-mail at mallen@sdbj.com .