The San Diego Padres have generated nearly $3 million of additional ticket revenue in the two weeks since Manny Machado agreed to a 10-year, $300 million contract, according to the team's president of business operations, Erik Greupner.
Greupner did not provide specifics on the raw number of tickets sold, but said it was "at least double" what is normally projected for that time of year.
Prior to signing Machado to what was then the largest free-agent contract in North American professional sports -- a title now held by Bryce Harper, who received a 13-year, $330 million deal from the Philadelphia Phillies -- Padres executives submitted projections for the initial wave of ticket revenue, and Greupner said the team is "at or ahead of what we anticipated."
Greupner has been with the organization in a variety of roles since December 2010, and compared this spike in interest with those generated going into 2015, after a flurry of offseason trades and free-agent acquisitions, and going into 2016, with the team set to host the All-Star Game.
"But even in 2015 and 2016, we didn't see a spike like we've seen this year in terms of demand," Greupner said in a phone conversation. "And frankly, it's been maintained for a longer period of time so far than some of the spikes we've seen in the past. So, we're encouraged that it's really setting a new trend line for us this season in terms of demand for tickets and merchandise."
The Padres have finished 10 of the past 11 seasons with a losing record and have not made the playoffs since 2006. Petco Park has ranked no better than 13th in attendance since then, despite establishing itself among the preeminent facilities in the sport.
Greupner and other front-office executives are hopeful that the presence of Machado, coupled with a farm system that ESPN's Keith Law ranks No. 1 in baseball, will set the foundation for consistent winning for a 50-year-old franchise that has yet to capture a World Series title. Unless that happens, Greupner admitted, the initial interest from the Machado signing will hardly matter.
"There's no doubt we have a tremendous opportunity with the Chargers having left San Diego for L.A., and also frankly a tremendous obligation as the sole remaining professional sports franchise in San Diego, to deliver a winner to the city of San Diego," Greupner said. "It's a tremendous opportunity. Our plan is certainly, through winning, to build an even deeper connection to the San Diego fan base and really give them an opportunity to celebrate a winner, which is something that the city hasn't had for some time."