Bowers touring Petco with eye on Marlins Park

Marlins president of business operations seeks enhanced experience for home ballpark

May 31st, 2018

SAN DIEGO -- The Marlins are playing more than a four-game series against the Padres at Petco Park. As an organization, they are using the trip as a fact-finding mission to further enhance the gameday experience at Marlins Park.

Chip Bowers, the Marlins' new president of business operations, is in town touring Petco Park and the surrounding areas, and jotting doing pointers on how the Padres are connecting with their fans.

There are many similarities between the two organizations and markets. Both franchises are building on the field, and have ballparks in markets that are known as destinations.

"The Padres are not a first-place team in the NL West, they're in a very similar situation [as the Marlins]," Bowers said. "They're a smaller market, but it's a destination people want to come to. They want to experience something new, fresh, exciting. People do not leave Petco Park saying they had a bad time."

Bowers, who joined the Marlins in February after being an executive with the NBA's Golden State Warriors, plans on making several trips this season to gather ideas from other big league ballparks.

He's already been to Citi Field, home of the Mets, and later in the season plans on visiting PNC Park in Pittsburgh.

"In a market like Miami, where it's a destination market, and we want to create a place for people come 365 days a year, and create other events outside of Marlins baseball and also take Marlins baseball and create this, 'How can I be part of something special along with 36,999 of my closest friends?'" Bowers said.

Part of building an attractive environment is creating an atmosphere reflective of the market. The Padres are successfully doing so, and the Marlins are aiming to do the same thing.

"Every nuance of the gameday experience is what we're trying to improve," Bowers said. "We'll probably go to PNC Park in Pittsburgh, and two or three other parks that have great reputations, and see how they do it that is in a way that's authentic and reflective of those communities.

"How do we continue to create the right experience for our fans, day-in and day-out. That can't be a seasonal exercise or every two or three years. It's something that every single day we need to be talking about as an organization, what matters to our fan base? I don't know that we had done that."

Bowers broke into the professional sports industry working with the Padres and was part of the team that helped design Petco Park.

"The ballpark is a great ballpark, but we haven't made any real capital investments in that ballpark in the last seven years," Bowers said of Marlins Park. "That's one of the reasons I'm here at Petco Park, which is now almost 14 years old. See how it's changed over time."

For the rest of this season, changes at Marlins Park will be more subtle. The organization is doing its homework on how to move forward, and wider changes will start to be rolled out next year.

"The game experience, we've gotten a lot of great feedback from fans already," Bowers said. "Fans feel a different energy in Marlins Park this year than they've felt in years past. That has to do with different types of content we're putting on the video boards, the music we're playing. How we're structuring the game flow, things we're doing with our sponsor-engagement activations."

Before launching new ideas, the Marlins are aiming to make sure they can produce big results.

"Everything we do has to be impactful, moving forward," Bowers said. "We're not here to swing and miss. We're going to pick our pitches and we're going to swing for the fence."