The Padres $300 million signing of All-Star infielder Manny Machado is bringing new hope for both longtime fans and businesses trying to survive near Petco Park.
'We got a big name star," said lifelong Padres fan Luke Peet. "We got a household name that's on our ballpark."
News of Machado's signing broke Tuesday morning. Fans like Ernesto Ramirez came to Petco Park to buy tickets for opening day shortly after the box office opened.
"Friends are excited," he said. "It's all over social media so I think it's going to be a big deal for the Padres this season."
If the excitement over the Padres translates into more fans coming into the Petco Park gates, it could also help businesses in the East Village stay afloat. That's been a challenge these last few years in the high-rent area. There are vacant restaurants just steps from the ballpark's entrance.
The Padres finishing in last place two of the last three seasons has also led to a dropoff in foot traffic. The team averaged nearly 27,000 fans per game in 2018, good for 18th in Major League Baseball, according to ESPN.
"As the year goes on and they struggle, you definitely see a slowdown in the crowd and energy," said Erik Tesmer, a co-owner and manager of Basic Pizza, which has been in the East Village for 14 years.
The Machado signing was already paying off for Basic. Tesmer said the Padres ordered 17 pies for delivery Tuesday because there was no time to go out for lunch.
"The energy of a big name person - we've had them in the past over the years and you can definitely tell the difference," Tesmer said.
Whether the difference lasts beyonds April and May will all depend on how the Padres perform on the field.