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Padres-Dodgers series in Mexico creates opportunity, local ouch factor

No one has to tell the Bub’s at the Ballpark staff that the Padres’ sole home weekend series next season against the World Series-qualifying Dodgers is heading for Monterrey, Mexico.

MLB announced Monday that the matchup with the seat-filling NL West neighbor to the north, set for May 4-6, is on the move.

“Oh yeah, we know,” said Allie Garibay, a manager at Bub’s. “Our GM is very up on all the news. We already talked about staffing that weekend. It’s definitely going to affect us.

“It’s going to hit us that weekend.”

That’s the pestering complexity of the Padres’ upcoming role in the bright, international bat-and-ball spotlight.

For the franchise, it’s a no-brainer. You play a special series in a special place as the nation tunes in. You face your biggest rival with a chance to show your stuff. You lace up the cleats as an ambassador in an emerging market that’s a priority to the commissioner’s office.

For season ticket-holders and businesses that lean on the Padres for bottom lines — particularly when the biggest draw wanders into town with loose weekend wallets — it’s a completely different conversation.

If you’re those groups, it’s “Why not a weekday series? Why not the Diamondbacks? Why not … anything but the only weekend the Dodgers are in town?”

Padres Managing Partner Peter Seidler said this wasn’t an our-way-or-the-highway ultimatum from baseball bosses.

“The commissioner’s office isn’t going to cram anything down our throats or anybody else’s,” Seidler said. “It was collaborative from Day 1. We hate to lose a weekend series against the Dodgers, but that’s a statement in a vacuum when you look at what we get out of it.

“This is strategically a positive thing for MLB and any franchise. We think it’s terrific.”

That in no way means Seidler and the Padres lack empathy for the ripples the decision creates.

The Padres are working with in-park vendors like Seaside Market, Hodad’s and the like to “make them whole in some way,” said Seidler, adding: “We want to be a good partner. If they lose something, we want to endeavor to help make it right. When I heard this option existed, I thought it was terrific and I knew we’d handle it the right way.”

Discussions remain ongoing with season ticket-holders as well. That could be a tricky crowd to navigate, since many look forward to rare home games against teams like the Dodgers and Cubs. Many attend a game in a big series, then sell off the rest to subsidize ticket costs.

The miss can be competitive and financial in one three-day swipe.

“There’s the fan part of me that would have loved to go to those Dodgers games, absolutely,” said Britton Scheibe of La Costa, a 1992 Padres draft pick whose family has owned season tickets since 1980. “As much as I want to be mad about it, I get the big picture about what they’re trying to do.

“To grow the brand in Mexico, right next door, I get it.”

The bigger payoff, Seidler hopes, also informs the big picture.

“This is a smart thing for our organization to do,” he said. “It’s not the All-Star Game, but it creates a lasting, positive memory. From my perspective, if we beat the Dodgers at least two times it’s even better.”

The shifting series is a mixed bag for the San Diego Marriott Gaslamp Quarter, which always experiences high occupancy based on its downtown location, coupled with steady convention and vacation traffic.

Three games without Dodgers baseball, though, could impact Altitude, the 22nd-floor bar with a singular view directly into Petco Park.

“It’s always nice to have them, since there’s a built-in crowd and there’s a different personality than John Q Public,” said General Manager Jim Durbin, using code for fans in blue pumping more money into the bar.

“But we’re not going to suffer because they’re playing in Mexico.”

Organizational reasons to dive into the Monterrey series found even steadier footing because MLB guarantees the Padres are covered financially for the loss of the games.

“It’s a calculation, basically, of what we would have gotten if they were home games,” Seidler said. “There’s some art to it. It depends if it’s a weekend. Does Cinco de Mayo make it special? This particular year, L.A. is coming off a World Series. Does that impact it?

“So we won’t lose anything. And from a longer-term perspective, we get additional visibility in Mexico and the buzz about being down there.”

Erik Greupner, the Padres’ chief operating officer, said baseball uses revenue replacement to incentivize teams, because playing in a place like Mexico is an essential way to grow the sport.

The Padres are offering ticket-holders refunds for the games or the option to use the financial value in other ways. Talks with business and sponsorship partners remain in the works, too.

“Bottom line, there’s no way to take advantage of opportunities like this without the need to work with ticket-holders and sponsors,” Greupner said.

Will the gains outweigh the grumbles?

As they say in baseball these days: That’s still under review.

bryce.miller@sduniontribune.com; Twitter: @Bryce_A_Miller




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