Despite scheduling tonight’s “Out at the Park” game at Petco Park between the Cincinnati Reds and the hometown San Diego Padres on a holy day for two major religions, the head of San Diego LGBT Pride tells Outsports he’s expecting a record crowd.
“Looks like we’re getting close to 5-thousand,” Fernando Lopez, executive director of the nonprofit organization, told Outsports. The Padres confirmed that’s nearly double the number of last year’s sales of a special pride package.
Each $25 ticket includes a seat, a commemorative rainbow-brimmed cap, a $5 donation to San Diego LGBT Pride and a pass to a pre-game VIP party.
A flurry of complaints, however, prompted the group and the team to offer a special refund plan. But so far not one fan has asked for a refund, Lopez said.
A pre-game “Tailgate Party” happy hour event is set to take place starting at 4:30 p.m. in the stadium’s Park at the Park VIP space, just minutes after many Christians leave their churches for Good Friday services, a solemn ceremony that marks what they believe was the crucifixion of Jesus. The first pitch is at 7:10 p.m., 11 minutes before sundown, which is the traditional start of the first night of Passover, when Jews the world over gather in homes and synagogues for the Passover Seder, an event commemorating what they celebrate as the exodus of Hebrew slaves from Egypt.
Adding to the conflict is the fact that many Christians either abstain from meat or fast the entire day, presenting a temptation tonight every time a vendor shouts, “Hot dogs!” There are at least vegetarian options. But Jews will be hard-pressed to find Gefilte fish or matzoh ball soup at any of the park’s dozens of concession stands.
The scheduling of the “Out at the Park” game on April 19, 2019, was made in 2018, Outsports has learned, on what the team said is the Padres’ only Friday night homestand. That, according to the team, was the date that worked best for San Diego LGBT pride.
“Unfortunately, for this year, this particular date was the only one that was available to both of us to select as an option that would work for both of our organizations,” Lopez said. “We’ve had ‘Out at the Park’ on similar dates before, but folks were a little more vocal about it this year.”
In response, San Diego LGBT Pride added an addendum to the “Out at the Park” website, offering refund options.
“We understand that this may pose a timing conflict for some people of faith within our community. This was the only date available that worked for our joint schedules. If you have already purchased a ticket without realizing this conflict there are a few options available:
1. You can request a full refund from the Padres.
2. You can turn in your ticket to San Diego Pride allowing for Pride to retain the $5 donation, and a Pride staff member will ensure we secure your free commemorative hat that you can pick up after the event.
3. You can turn in your ticket to Pride to donate your seat and commemorative hat to an LGBTQ youth.”
“We wanted to find a way to still have our event and acknowledge that there are LGBTQ people of faith,” Lopez told Outsports.
“I think a lot of us are very familiar with religion being used as a weapon against LGBTQ individuals, against our efforts to get full equality in the country, and it can even be used for things like conversion therapy that we’re all opposed to. But the reality is that a lot of LGBT people feel very connected to their faith,” he said.
“We wanted to make sure that people of faith in the LGBT community knew that we see them, that we recognize their existence, and that we actually have programs that are connected to LGBTQ people of faith.”
Both the Padres and Lopez said they learned from this snafu and will work around religious holidays in the future. The team said they would pass along a suggestion to hold a pride night for all general admission fans, not just those who purchase a special pride package.
Lopez said out lesbian city councilwoman Dr. Jen Campbell informed them she’ll be on hand tonight at Petco Park and has decided to celebrate Passover on the second night.
We asked Lopez, who himself is Jewish, what will fans who go to Petco Park tonight see, and what will those who decide to get a refund miss? One is MLB vice president for social responsibility and inclusion, Billy Bean, throwing the first pitch.
“Every aspect of ‘Out at the Park’ night, from the national anthem to the first pitch to the military color guard, to the deejay that’s performing, to the youth band at the beginning, all of them are LGBT. People are feeling more welcome and recognized. And that’s what it’s all about.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: The original version of this report incorrectly identified Fernando Lopez as the executive producer of San Diego LGBT Pride. His correct title is Executive Director of the nonprofit organization, and that change has been made to reflect his proper title. We regret the error.