The new collective bargaining agreement reached on March 10 between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association was a last-minute salvation for East Village businesses surrounding Petco Park.
“Absolutely, baseball came back in the nick of time,” says Eric Tesmer, general manager and part-owner of Basic Bar & Pizza. “If it had been months or a full year it would have been devastating. It could have shut us down.”
The league’s work stoppage had delayed the start of spring training. Day by day, as negotiations dragged on, the beginning of the regular season was also being pushed back.
The 2022 MLB season was originally set to begin March 31. The San Diego Padres were scheduled to open with a home game against the San Francisco Giants.
An abbreviated spring training season is now tentatively scheduled to begin March 18. The revised start to the regular season is April 7.
With the rescheduling, the Padres now play their first seven games on the road before getting to host their home opener, which traditionally sells out.
The new date for the Padres home opener is April 14. Yep, three days before Easter Sunday.
A Basic Sigh of Relief
Basic Bar & Pizza GM/owner Eric Tesmer.
Each missed home game equates to lost revenue for downtown business owners and their employees.
The San Diego Padres play 81 regular season games at Petco Park. Those games bring hungry and thirsty fans downtown and are the lifeblood for some bars and restaurants in East Village.
Before the good news came that that baseball was back on, Tesmer says he and his Basic Bar & Pizza partners were getting concerned.
“We were literally getting ready to sit down and start strategizing how we were going to make it through the summer without baseball,” he says. “Luckily that didn’t happen.”
Basic Bar & Pizza opened for business in 2004, the same year Petco Park came online.
Double the Business at Bub’s
Bub’s at the Ballpark GM Taylor McCutcheon.
At Bub’s at the Ballpark, general manager Taylor McCutcheon is glad to have a season at all, compared to the previous two years that were hampered by COVID.
“Last year we had limited capacity and before that no season at all,” McCutcheon says. “This year, we’ll lose six home games, but we’ll take what we can get.”
He says Bub’s, which has been in business for 11 years, always staffs up early for baseball season, and their employees have been alerted to this year’s new schedule.
How important is it for games to be played?
“For home Padres games we do at least twice as much business as other days,” McCutcheon says. “For certain games, it’s even more than that.”
Ramping Up at Social Tap
Social Tap GM/partner Jake Snyder.
“Baseball is the lifeblood of East Village,” says Social Tap GM/partner Jake Snyder. “We’re not the Gaslamp Quarter–we don’t have the luxury of having the foot traffic they do. Baseball really does make or break business here.”
At Social Tap, a bar/restaurant that’s literally adjacent to Petco Park, Snyder says his team jumped to the ready as soon as they heard news of the return of baseball.
“The process started yesterday,” Snyder says. “We got the go-ahead and started doing more hiring and training to get ready for baseball. We have a hard date and we can start ramping up.”
He thinks if the work stoppage had gone on much longer it might have caused bad blood with fans.
“Only being delayed a week saved it for [MLB],” Snyder says. “Any longer and fans would have been upset.”
He’s sure the home opener on April 14 will be a sell-out.
“It’s a great series against the Atlanta Braves, the reigning World Series champs,” Snyder says. “I think the Friar Faithful are ready for games.”
Fans are Forgiving
Padres fans Marc Kohnen and Tim Sullivan.
A random polling of downtowners supported Snyder’s opinion about fans not holding a grudge against MLB’s players or owners over the work stoppage.
At Bub’s, criminal defense attorney Marc Kohnen was having an alfresco lunch with his employee, Tim Sullivan.
Kohnen, whose office is downtown just blocks from Petco Park, says he frequently attends the Padres’ Opening Day. He’d bought tickets for the original date of March 31.
“As a season ticket holder, I got the email from [Padres owner] Pete Seidler, with the date of April 14 and that further details would follow,” Kohnen says.
Fans who purchased tickets for the original date will get to use them for the rescheduled home opener.
“I’ll be there,” Kohnen says. ” Before the labor settlement, I was disappointed and waiting with anticipation. Now, I don’t have bad feelings. I’m glad they got it done and it’s not too late to salvage the season.” SDSun