SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -“If you build it, they will come.”
Pete Osborne paraphrased a famous quote from the baseball movie “Field of Dreams” to describe the fortunate circumstances of business owners near San Francisco’s own field of dreams, AT&T Park, in the wake of the Giants’ run to a World Series title last fall.
Business is booming near the ballpark in the city’s South Beach neighborhood since the Giants’ championship run, and business owners expect that trend to continue when the new baseball season begins next month.
Osborne, who owns MoMo’s, Pete’s Tavern and Pedro’s Cantina, three restaurants within a block of AT&T Park, said his business was up about 50 percent from the previous year, and is anticipating a “huge start to the season.”
San Francisco’s home opener is a month from Tuesday, when the Giants will host the St. Louis Cardinals.
Ticket sales for the upcoming season are up 46 percent compared to last year, Giants spokeswoman Staci Slaughter said.
As of March 1, the team had sold about 2.5 million tickets, compared to about 1.7 million at the same point in 2010, Slaughter said.
“It’s been a significant increase, really since we clinched the division all the way through to where we are today,” she said.
Osborne said his restaurants get about 60 percent of their revenue during the six-month baseball season – or more if the team makes a playoff run like last year – and the higher ticket sales mean more money for his and other local businesses.
Osborne said the Giants Fan Fest, an event held at the ballpark on Feb. 5, seemed to be a good indicator of the crowds that will materialize for the upcoming season.
More than 40,000 people showed up that day, about 20,000 of whom had to be turned away because the stadium was filled to capacity. Many of those people ended up at restaurants near Third and King streets.
“We did a lot of business that day,” he said.
Restaurants often have the most success near the ballpark, and many offer to-go meals for people headed to a game.
Ironside, which opened on Second Street near the park in late 2009, went through its first full baseball season last year and offered a “grab-and-go” discounted version of its popular pressed Cubano sandwich.
The deal is “for people that want something quick to eat and run to the ballpark,” said co-owner Jon D’Angelica. He said the offer was a way to attract new customers since “we were still very new to a lot of people who go to games regularly.”
The restaurant’s business “really picked up near the end of the year, and we expect to see the same uptick hopefully for the entire season this year,” D’Angelica said.
“We’re excited about it, the neighborhood really comes alive for better or worse,” he said. “Some locals maybe prefer the offseason, but businesses like us, we love it.”
Some other businesses nearby don’t see a big jump in business during the baseball season though, even one that shares a name with the ballpark.
“We do the same business there pretty much year round,” said John Britton, spokesman for the AT&T store on King Street.
Other businesses, like the Supercuts hair salon also on King Street, have considered offering deals to lure in customers who wouldn’t normally stop by before a game.
“Sometimes they do come in before or after a game, but they really want to spend their money at the ballpark on souvenirs and alcohol,” said Nina Rivera, a manager at Supercuts.
Rivera said management has discussed something like a half-price haircut for people with tickets to the game, but isn’t yet offering any baseball-related specials.
The owners of one of the newest businesses in the area, Caffe Pascucci, leased the property last summer and opened in January, lucking into a location right across the street from the World Series champions.
“You could never count on or predict the Giants winning the World Series, especially being the underdogs,” co-owner Michael Balyasny said. “We felt very fortunate. It’s more than we could have asked for in terms of having any positive impact from the stadium.”
Balyasny said the business, an Italian coffee roasting company and cafe, was planning on moving there “well before this was ever on the radar.”
He said the cafe just got its license to sell beer and wine, and wants to be selling those before the season starts.
“We’re still getting a feel for the neighborhood, so what’s good for them will be good for us,” he said.
While many businesses are thriving near AT&T Park, one of the biggest businesses in the neighborhood shut down right in the middle of the Giants’ playoff run.
The Borders bookstore on the corner of Third and King streets closed on Oct. 16, the day the Giants won Game 1 of the National League Championship Series against Philadelphia, and vacated the building on Oct. 31, the same day the Giants beat the Texas Rangers 4-0 to go up three games to one in the World Series.
San Francisco would go on to clinch the championship the next day, setting off a massive celebration in the city.
Borders had been planning for months to close the store in mid-October, company spokeswoman Mary Davis said. She said didn’t know of any discussions by the corporate office to keep the store open a couple of weeks longer to take advantage of the baseball crowds.
While the property will remain vacant when this season starts, a bowling alley will likely move into the space sometime in the near future.
Lucky Strike Lanes, a Southern California-based company, plans to open its first bowling alley in San Francisco at that location, said Trey Comstock, the company’s marketing manager.
Plans have not been finalized, so there is no opening date targeted yet, but Comstock said the owners will be looking to partner with the ballpark and the Giants once the business opens.
“We have several locations near large sporting arenas, and we usually benefit from the close proximity because Lucky Strike can be a great place to get a pre-game drink or a great place to grab a bite to eat and a few late night drinks after the game,” he said.
The neighborhood is generally a low-crime area, and even on game days there isn’t much of an increase, San Francisco police Lt. Troy Dangerfield said.
“Those events are really well-organized, and really family-friendly events, and most people take public transportation there,” Dangerfield said.
He added that the presence of police and stadium security guards helps deter would-be criminals.
The teeming crowds and the safe streets make for an unbeatable deal for businesses in the area.
“It’s an ‘If you build it they will come’ type thing,” said Osborne, owner of MoMo’s, Pete’s Tavern and Pedro’s Cantina.
“We’re concentrating on making sure we can provide excellent quality and service,” he said. “If we take care of those fundamentals, the rest will take care of itself, much like the Giants.”
(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News contributed to this report.)