Mike Feder is the general manager of baseball's Triple-A Tucson Padres, who start the 2012 season at 7:05 p.m., Thursday, April 5, at Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium, 2500 E. Ajo Way. This is the Padres' second season in Tucson. For information on tickets, promotions and more, call 434-1367; visit their webpage; or like 'em on Facebook.
What can we look forward to this year?
Upside-down, bottoms-up beer! Since the Tucson Weekly is a partner in our Thirsty Thursdays, you'll like this: We've got five new beer taps, and they're the only ones of their kind in Southern Arizona, and (this is) the only sports venue (using them) in the state of Arizona: The beer pours (into the cup) from the bottom. It pours a virtually perfect 16-ounce beer. The beauty of it is, you can do 40 or 50 beers a minute.
No kidding! This is some pretty advanced technology you're bringing to the ballpark.
A few major league teams are going to go with it this year as well. We had it at spring training, and the fans were just fascinated by it. Opening night is also Thirsty Thursday as well.
Who are the prospects to watch?
Matt Clark had a great spring, and he's returning. They're really high on him. Starting-pitcher Casey Kelly is one of the top five in the San Diego Padres' prospect list. And the big name is going to be Yasmani Grandal.
He's the guy from Cuba?
Yes. He went to the University of Miami. I was at spring training in Peoria with the Padres camp last Sunday, and they were just raving about him. He's a catcher; he's a switch-hitter. When the Padres came here in spring training, he's the one who hit the ball over the center-field Green Monster.
That's a heck of a shot.
Tim Hagerty, our broadcaster, says he doesn't remember a farther home run hit in this ballpark last year, and we did have a guy named Anthony Rizzo ... and he hit a few.
We know some fans come out for the baseball, but others love the promotions.
We're developing a Hispanic theme this year. We're going to have four major events, starting with Cinco de Mayo. We're going to have a whole festival. We're going from noon to the end of the game—we have a doubleheader on May 5. ... We've increased the fireworks from five nights to seven.
And you've got the regular Weiner Wednesdays and two-for-one admission on Tuesdays.
We've got a $20 four-pack on Mondays—it's gonna be four box seats, four hot dogs, four soft drinks for $20. ... We're going to do Bark in the Park every Sunday.
People can bring their dogs to the ballpark? That was popular last year.
I thought when it got too hot, people would back off it, but they said it was one of the few things they could bring their dogs to. ... We don't have our whole promotional schedule done yet. The good news is, we had a college football all-star game; we had FC Tucson (soccer) at the ballpark; and we had three spring-training games. The bad news is, we got hung up in the focus of those games, and it pushed back some of the Tucson Padres planning.
That Dodgers ballgame was a great benefit for the Green family.
We had just under 11,000 people. And our hope is that they're going to get between $50,000 and $100,000 for the Christina-Taylor Green Memorial Fund.
What else should people know?
The games are all on radio this year. They'll be on (KXEW) Tejano 1600 on the AM dial. Tim Hagerty is going to travel home and away. That was something I felt bad about not having last year, because people like to be able to listen to the game ... but don't like to listen on a computer. We're also working on a big mister—a big box. They have it at Wrigley Field. Fans will be able to get cool water on themselves on a hot day.
The efforts to build a ballpark in Escondido, Calif., have suffered a setback. What are the chances that we'll be able to keep the Padres in Tucson after this season?
That's up to us. We hope people know who we are. Last year at this time, they didn't know who we were. Our August (attendance) was fantastic with a team that was 17 games out of first place. We're going to give it a shot. It's hard for me to imagine a scenario where we would not have a team next year, in 2013, because there's no existing ballpark in the footprint of the Pacific Coast League. ... We ask people to come to one game. ... If everyone in the community comes to one game, we're here to stay.