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Encompassing All Things Baseball, Version 3.0

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Joined: 10 Aug 2005
Posts: 17167
Location: San Diego CA - deep in the heart of SoCal

PostPosted: Thu 7/25/13 11:21 am    Post subject: Encompassing All Things Baseball, Version 3.0 Reply with quote

Well, finally getting around to posting about the National Baseball Expo held last Sunday and Monday at the Santee Sports Complex. I have to say that after the first two editions of this event, which took place in January of 2011 & 2012, I was really disappointed with this year's Expo, for several reasons which I'll get to shortly. I just re-read the recap of last year's NBE and realized just what all was missing, and recalled the fun I had back then. (Here's the link to that thread.)

Let it be said that I am not a fan of the date or location change, and I'm guessing both had something to do with the less-than-anticipated attendance, at least on the first day.

On Sunday afternoon I drove east where, against the backdrop of Cowles Mountain, the Santee Sports Complex awaited, teeming with baseball fans. Well, maybe not quite what I expected and was used to. There was a different "feel" to the Expo this year, compared to the previous two. There were the various vendors, demonstrations, players from various teams who were signing for fans, etc., but with the arrangements--most exhibits were set up outside--it had more of a "street fair" ambiance.

Attendance was down (again, I only have Sunday to compare), and I chalked that up partly to the time of year with so much competition of events. Well, duh! OTL was going on, the quintessential Socal summer event, it was the opening weekend of Del Mar, and Comic-Con International (not that that necessarily appeals to sports fans like the first two might, but who knows)--three of the biggest drawing festivities of the year in San Diego were taking place this weekend. OTL championship round and the final day alone would have been enough to draw many long-time fans away from this. I give the organizers credit for at least not having it on a weekend when the Padres were playing at home--but, that's about it.

The second issue I had with the Expo this year was the location. I felt the organizers had taken a step forward last year by moving it south to a more centralized venue, the Hall of Champions, and thought that might be permanent (although there had also been talk about having Petco Park host it, too). In any case, Santee in the summer is not where I usually want to be, although to be fair, the weather was pretty good on this particular Sunday.

This year, there was a noticeable lack of "vibe" as there had been in the previous two Expos. I attributed this to the attendance being down, as well as my other complaint about scheduling--why in July? Not just because of the full-calendar syndrome during actual baseball season, but because January was a perfect month, in my opinion, for such an event. Not only is it a post-holidays lull time of year, fans' mindsets are focused on winter baseball and getting ready for spring/summer. Also, there is increased availability of participants/former players who have jobs in MLB/MiLB during the regular season.

Thinking of the time of year and how much baseball is being played at youth levels, I realized many kids playing in postseason tournaments weren't able to attend; for the Expos held in January, plenty of kids playing winter ball were able to schedule around one of the two days and attend it with their families. Also, the format of Saturday/Sunday is preferable (to me, at least) to Sunday/Monday.

However, to be fair, what I did like about this particular venue was:

-Availability of fields/diamonds and batting cages for participants to try out new equipment;

-Clubhouse for viewing of major league games taking place while the Expo was taking place, including a variety of food and adult beverage offerings. This was popular as many games were being played on Sunday and it was easy to pop in and pop out for viewing and partaking of refreshments.

-It's in Stephen's backyard. Smile

And as always, one of the popular attractions was appearances of former players from the AAGBPL with a couple of the ladies signing memorabilia. Even though I'd chatted with them many times before, the lack of "business" at their booth allowed me some extended discussion with the gals. So in that sense, it worked out to an advantage.

Whereas at previous Expos there was a definite buzz throughout the afternoon (and no, I'm not talking about the beer in the clubhouse) Smile , this one felt like it had all the excitement of, well, last week's All Star Game.

One more thing: the Expo needs a much better website. If you're trying to attract attendees and you keep changing the season and location, more regular updates are needed. The web design was pathetic (and I'm not even that big on visuals like some people are); the outdated info was still listed even on the date of the event. I plan to bring this to the attention of the organizers. I found that their Facebook page had more regular comments and updates, but not everyone looking for this info is on Facebook.

If the NBE wants to be more successful, what they need to do, in my opinion, is find a solid location and settle on it. As I mentioned above, there was once talk about having it at Petco Park during the offseason, which seems to make a lot of sense to me. You could still enjoy the outdoor participatory activities, as well as indoor exhibits, too. That would satisfy most fans, and it could be modeled slightly on the Padres FanFest. Maybe there was a conflict with FanFest dates, who knows. One thing I like about the Padres FanFest is that kids get to do something in the offseason that involves not just the players and the team, but getting out onto the field in a major league stadium and testing their own skills there, the clinics players conduct for youngsters, etc.

Anyway, that's my report. Cathy, I'm sorry our schedules did not allow us to attend on the same day, but I'm interested in hearing your observations and how you felt about the event.
"The Dodgers have always occupied an enormous place in the history of the game. If the Yankees are the most successful team in baseball history, the Dodgers are the most essential. Their legacy is unique."

-Baseball Hall of Fame
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Joined: 23 Oct 2009
Posts: 5622
Location: San Diego

PostPosted: Fri 7/26/13 3:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I will add my thoughts to this thread later because I went on Monday. I only have a couple of minutes left to post and I want to update my Padres thread first.
"Baseball is an allegorical play about America, a poetic, complex, and subtle play of courage, fear, good luck, mistakes, patience about fate, and sober self-esteem." - Saul Steinberg
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