The Padres today announced Social Media Night, a fun sounding event I was barely able to acquire tickets for due to the speed at which it sold out. It got me thinking about what it was that made the event to desirable to attend. Sure, it includes access to a suite, a shirt, and an opportunity to rub elbows with various Padres brass. But that’s not what sold it for me.
As best as I can tell, here are the three main reasons I attend Padres baseball games:
- To watch and cheer on talented and exciting Padres teams
- A feeling of pride in the team and city after being a fan my whole life-. This is weird and complicated, and something I’d like to address more in future posts.
- To spend time with people I like
The third reason is obviously the motivating factor behind the fun of Social Media Night. There’s a great community of Padres fans on Twitter, which has enhanced my fan experience more than perhaps anything in my personal history of Padrefanhoodom.
The routine when going to games during the Jack Murphy days was parking or taking the trolley, finding our seats in the ballpark in whatever group I came with, watching the game, then turning around and heading home. It might be my maturity as a person, the proximity of Petco to downtown, or a combination of factors, but that’s changed! Meeting and talking with other passionate Padres fans at games and otherwise has been an absolute blast. It’s made Petco Park feel like a place at which I belong.
This is be exactly the relationship the Padres want to have with fans. They want fans to feel that sense of association, and to have fun at the ballpark while almost completely detached from the outcome of the game. The team can encourage more of it by curating small to medium sized groups of fans.
It’s easy to see how a social media fan group developed because Twitter did the curating for us. We’re all die-hard Padres fans who like talking about the Padres on the Internet. Through that medium, we get to know each other, enjoy games together, build relationships, and greatly enhance our fan experience. I’m convinced that if the Padres can find a way to replicate those experiences for larger numbers of fans who aren’t doing it themselves on Twitter, they would be well on their way to building the fan culture we longtime die-hards have always wanted.
It would be difficult. It would require lots of thinking outside the box. But it’s not impossible. The Friarhood, and the guys behind the Bring Back the Brown campaign have done it, albeit on a smaller scale.
The power behind a self-perpetuating, connected group of Padres fans who feel a part of something is undeniable. It’s what the Padres need to create the identity they want. And it would be a lot of fun.