Cheering to Win, Hoping to Lose: The Cost of a 5Win Pass

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I wanted to buy the Padres 5Win Pass, but I didn’t.

Now, don’t get me wrong… It sounds like a pretty sweet deal on paper: $99 (plus tax) for five Padres home victories and you get to keep going back until they win those five games within a month? Boy, if the team really blows it and needs all of June to give the fans five victories, then I get to watch all 16 home games for a paltry $6.18/game!

But it’s not that simple, right? It’s not going to cost you $6.18/game in the end – not even close. Sure, you can peg that fistful of dollars on the admission price, but you aren’t Captain Thrifty looking to get in and get out of a Padres game.

If you truly wanted to be neurotic about it, you could pack yourself a Ziploc bag of cereal (I like Cheerio’s), struggle to find the one of six free parking spaces in the East Village (the ones you might feel safe about leaving your car at), and resist the temptation to purchase a drink from one of the four-hundred and seventy-nine craft beer stands at the Park (water is free) – all the while settling in for all nine (or twenty-two) innings of Padres baseball.

Or, you know, you could just be a sane human being and enjoy a game at the ballpark with a hot dog and maybe a beer or soda. Copa de Vino or Tea of a Kind anyone? At most you’d be doing this 16 times, and at a minimum of just five times, all the while shelling out just one Ben Franklin.

The point is, this isn’t going to be a $99 investment. Driving to the ballpark, finding parking, and even just feeding or hydrating yourself requires time and money. Depending on where you live and what you do for a living, the costs will vary. So, the question then becomes this:

How much would this pass actually cost a fan?

I’m a busy guy. Between planning a wedding, playing in a recreational baseball league, being somewhat social and working a full-time job where I sometimes pull 11 hour shifts, I don’t know that I can commit myself to attending all five Padres home victories in June. I’m not even sure I will have the time to attend five Padres home games period. But let’s pretend I did have the time. Let’s pretend I can estimate how much time, money, and enjoyment I would get from this 5Win Pass if I were to buy it…

Credit: Petco Park

Thanks to the internet and my almost 20 years of experience as a Padres fan, I can pretend as much as I want and write about it all within a certain degree of certainty!

First off, $99 is a cumbersome and nonsensical number (read: good marketing number). Let’s round that up to $100. Let’s also assume that the Padres (winners of now five-in-a-row as of this writing) are hot, and will require only five games to get five victories (eerie!). So, that makes each admission cost only $20.

That’s easy.

Next, let’s assume that you will enjoy at least one beer or soda at the ballpark each game. We’ll use another round number like $10 (cheap beer, or soda with refill). That’s an additional $50 to add on to the $100 you’ve already spent. We can also assume that you are not some kind of mechanical automaton and as such will require food to function instead of an outlet and a USB cord. I’ll be conservative in my estimate and say you spend $20 on food – either a meal or snacks all together. As such, that brings your total to $250.

Following along so far?

Next, we’ll talk about commuting to the ballpark and finding parking. I’m not going to get too deep into the math of it, but let’s say it takes a person about 20 minutes to drive from North County to downtown. It’s safe to assume as well that same person will expend at least one gallon of gas (perhaps more) driving from home to the ballpark. Finally, parking can cost anywhere from free to not free. We’ll say that parking averages about $20 each night (another $100 in total), and we’ll say that’s another $10 for five gallons of gas that you’ll spend going to these five victories… it’s also an additional 200 minutes of commuting to and from the ballpark.

Speaking of time, a ballgame averages close to three hours per event. That’s roughly 15 hours of entertainment along with your 3+ hours of just driving. Note that I haven’t accounted for time spent finding parking, or walking to and from the ballpark. Bottom line: a decent amount of time is being committed to with this pass.

So $360+ and 18+ hours of your time later, you’ve enjoyed five Padres victories. Yay! Now if the Padres need 10 games to get their five wins, you double that: $720+ and 36+ hours. If you need all 16 home games? That’s a whopping $1,152+ and close to 60 hours of your time.

Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Conversely… you could watch the game at home or at a local watering hole. This eliminates the $100 ticket cost, but it also doesn’t give you that in-park experience. You also will probably save on food and drink if you’re at home… or maybe spend more if you’re at the bar. Finally, you don’t need to pay to park at home – at least, normal people don’t… unless it’s included in rent.

Everything costs money. I’m not discouraging the purchase of this pass at all, but rather putting things into perspective. It’s also worth noting that purchasing the pass doesn’t necessarily obligate you to attend every possible game.

But if you did? Well, the bill can add up real quick.

I watched Friday’s victory at home – win one of five wins as dictated by this promotion, and the first game of the month. As such, we’re undefeated in June and I’ve seen all of the games. All of them! Ain’t that something? I also spent $100 on cable this month to watch the game… and my wife-to-be probably spent close to $25 for the two of us on our delicious meal tonight. The main difference between my $100 cable/internet bill and the $100 5Win Pass, of course, is that I get to watch all of the Padres games in June – not just home games. I’m also watching from the couch with a cat sitting at my feet.

A night out at the ballpark is a good time. 16, 10, or even just five (consecutive) nights out at the ballpark can be a bit much. But when you’re a die-hard fan? It’s all relative.

If there was ever a way to market this promotion, it would be to call this a sort of Season Ticket preview package… not a five-win-dependent expiration date type gimmick. You want your fans to see good baseball and root for a win – not pray for a cost-effective and economical admission ticket that guarantees the opportunity to purchase pricey beer. How cost-effective the 5Win Pass actually will turn out to be, however, remains to be seen.

All in all you want to have a good time when you watch the Friars… how you attain that goal and how you support the team with your wallet, however, is entirely up to you. And perhaps the most interesting fact that we have seen tonight is that five consecutive wins is indeed possible for this team looking to rebuild.

Maybe it won’t be too expensive of a pass, after all.


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