I was really excited for Saturday's Celebrate San Diego Rally at Petco Park. I made sure to save the date, stressed over my outfit for the event, and literally lost sleep the night before because I was so pumped.
So it's probably my own fault that I wasn't super impressed with it. Don't get me wrong, I had a good time. And I'm glad the Padres will probably make it an annual event. But I think there are a lot of ways they could (and hopefully will) improve it for future iterations.
With gates set to open at 10:00 am, I started heading downtown at around 9:45 to take advantage of the limited free parking and to try to get as much out of the event as I could. In retrospect, it wasn't really worth it to get there right when the gates opened unless I had been planning on leaving early.
Prior to the actual rally in the afternoon, there were different activities going on throughout the open areas of the ballpark - games (mostly for kids), information booths for the sports teams in attendance, a photobooth, some performances from cheer and dance teams, and photo ops with the mascots and some of the public figures in attendance. There were several radio stations doing different promotions and giveaways or just reporting live from the event, free health screenings, and opportunities to buy Padres gear with the promoted Chargers apparel exchange and special "rally discounts" on all merchandise. Also, many of the ballpark concession stands were open so there was plenty of good food and drink options in which to partake.
But in my experience, all of that wasn't enough to take up more than a couple of hours. Before noon, I ran out of things to do and ended up just heading over to the stands and finding a place to sit and enjoy a beer, taking in the sights and sounds of the event from a distance while waiting for the rally to start. I wished that I was gazing upon a beautiful green field and pristine baseball diamond rather than some mounds of dirt and several dumpsters, but it was still really nice to be back in the ballpark.
While I was sitting there, I came to a realization.
I love the idea of bringing together fans of all the San Diego sports teams and celebrating our fine city, but the timing of the event really just made me yearn for a good ol' February Padres FanFest. Those were the best. FanFest used to be something I could get to right when it opened and stay until the very end without getting bored or running out of things to do. They also got me super pumped for baseball season, just at the right time, before the start of Spring Training. The past couple of years have been so lackluster and so close to the actual start of the regular season that they haven't seemed as exciting to me. But with the Padres front office so intent on renting out the ballpark for monster truck rallies in January and February, it feels like they've not only pushed back the date of FanFest, but they've also pushed it down on their list of priorities.
Maybe that's just me being needy. But after seeing what they put together for Saturday's event with relatively little time to plan it, I just wish they could have put that effort into bringing FanFest back to February instead. And I'm not the only one who feels this way.
Imagine if they combined the February rally with some Padres related activities to create a fan festival - a "Fanfest" if you will. pic.twitter.com/njL7McnfD5— Padres Jagoff (@PadresJagoff) February 12, 2017
And yes, I understand the particular timing of the rally this time around. It made sense with the NFL team leaving town. But I think in the future this event could be better, not necessarily for the Padres but definitely for San Diego sports as a whole, if it took place later in the year, perhaps at the end of Summer or in the Fall. At that time, the San Diego Sockers and Gulls as well as the local universities' football and basketball teams will be about to start, or at the beginning of, their respective seasons, and this event could actually rally people around those teams and get them excited for the upcoming seasons.
That said, the speeches were pretty good. A little heavy on Chargers talk, which I guess is understandable, but for my taste I'd rather they ignored them completely. Like jbox, I particularly enjoyed Candice Wiggins' message and energy. I loved listening to Aztecs coaches Rocky Long and Steve Fisher. And Trevor Hoffman was wonderful too, though I don't know if it's possible for him to not be engaging.
In general, I do think Celebrate San Diego was a successful event. I think it was great for the city and I do want them to continue it in the future. Considering it was the first of its kind here, I expect they will adjust and make changes/improvements in time. And I'll adjust my own expectations an plan my day better so I won't feel as let down.
Did anyone else feel like the rally didn't live up to the hype? Or maybe it actually exceeded your expectations? Let us know how you felt in the comments below or, better yet, put it in a FanPost!