Just a run down of what went on with the Padres focus group yesterday. I feel focused, and grouped.
First there was about 23 people there, three woman, the rest male. The age range was me at the low end (31) to seniors in their 70's (possibly older).
They began by giving us a small packet of five questions and a fictitious letter from the owner. The questions were short general statements followed by five paragraphs. We were to rank our top 2 response paragraphs from the four choices.
We then went into a conference room very nice except for the gigantic oil painting of Bud Selig. They had some food laid out for everyone, fruit cheese, crab rangoons, chicken satay, and soda/water.
They started by going around the room and asking each person what one word or phrase came to mind when thinking of the Padres and you couldn't say Baseball. People still answered baseball, or PetCo, or Mediocrity. I responded with "We ruin everything." They then asked how many games have you attended this year and how many will you attend next year. Everyone answered lower, no one said zero.
They then went on to the questions, taking a tally of how many had what paragraph for their first choice and what was their second choice. I think every time one paragraph stood out as the winner and one had very few or zero votes.We repeated this for all five questions.
From there different questions or discussions arouse. They asked everyone if they knew who the owner was, only about 1/3 of the people had any idea.
Other things I learned:
Some people will take every chance they get to base Moores. One man spent the entire time talking about him.
The San Diego Swinging Friar sucks and overwhelming everyone wants the San Diego Chicken back. (They then asked everyone to write down why they love the chicken so much)
Everyone was excited about this years draft.
Everyone is excited about young players and power pitchers.
The majority of discussion was around usage of the word "winning" versus "being competitive" with myself and others liking "championship caliber"
People are hopeful about Moores and like the change.
People like Bud Black.
Some people want Trevor Hoffman to come back even if it means not signing a younger player in his place.
There was one "die hard Red Sox fan" there that liked to compare PetCo to Fenway.
He then asked what one thing people didn't like about PetCo park, this is where it started to get more than a little dumb.
Complaints ranged from hatred of the scoreboard to the ushers.
One man thought PetCo had to many ad's and compared the park to the Pittsburgh Pirates park which had few ads. I wonder why?
People thought the entire score board should be in color (the moderator also said Moorad was unhappy with the score board and would have done it differently if he had the choice.)
People couldn't see the scoreboard from their seats.
No beer vendors in the stands. This was a hot topic. Many wanted beer vendors and hot dog vendors. Others wanted a vendor free section so they can watch baseball and not be interrupted. Serious business.
This then turned to a discussion about the ushers and how they do a lousy job of keeping people in their seats and out of the isle while the ball is in play.
People also thought there were not enough healthy food options in the park. Breakfast on Sundays was generally thought of as stupid, and everyone thought they should be allowed to eat on the Toyota Terrace.
Finally about the park moving the fences came up. Most of the room voted to leave them the way they are. The moderator then gave us the results of that question from the survey they sent out.
71% of respondents voted to leave the fences the way they are, 29% voted to move them in. I am guessing they stay the way they are.
We then came to the letter. We were asked to rate the letter 0-10 and circle paragraphs we liked, things we didn't like. Seemed most gave the letter a 6-7. I gave it a 7. It was about how poorly we did this year, and taking responsibility. Having KT and Buddy give Moorad a plan of what they need moving forward to make this team successful. Putting an exciting and athletic team on the field, creating a memorable time at PetCo, etc.
Finally, they had 20 odd pictures on the wall of Padres players in action, high fiving, walk off dog pile, a picture of Moorad, pictures of little kids in Padres gear etc. We were to pick our six best and six worst. Everyone had just about the same six favorites; celebration, good looking plays, high fives, home run swing, etc. Everyone also had about the same six worst, all of the pictures of children and Jeff Moorad were disliked. The reasoning was obvious, people want to see wins and excitement, not kids running the bases. We already have a kid friendly park, we need a winning team for that park now.
Overall the sentiments were the same, the value is pretty good, the park is pretty good, the team is mediocre. People are excited about the last month or so, they are excited about the draft and the future. They think we need to continue to develop our young talent, but not trade them as soon as they reach the majors for some washed up big name (Manny Ramariz came up many times). The people want to keep Adrian, and to bring in another big bat. I thought some people were unrealistic about what this teams pay roll possibilities are, and wanted something like the Dodgers, Cubs, Mets, Yankees, Sox, etc. The San Diego Chicken is the best thing since oxygen and must come back, the Friar must go. Oh, and everyone wanted the retro uniforms back, more brown, more yellow. They are distinct SD colors that no other teams use, unlike the current blue, gold, white colors.
People are unsure if they want a "winning" team or a "competitive" team, this really was the big topic of discussion, what verbage would you like to see the front offce use when talking about the future product on the field and the team?
I think it was a helpful exercise and it is nice to see the front office making an effort to gauge what the fans think. I know there was at least one more focus group other than the one I was in. Oh and I also mentioned GLB.
I would also say thanks to the FO, as they gave whoever needed them two free tickets and parking. Really nice field box seats also.