Peter Seidler, Padres chairman and owner, dies at 63

Peter Seidler, the San Diego Padres chairman and owner who elevated his team to national prominence with unprecedented financial commitments, passed away Tuesday. He was 63.

The Padres did not disclose a cause of death, but Seidler revealed in a statement on Sept. 18 that he had undergone a medical procedure the prior month that would prevent him from attending any games for the remainder of the 2023 season. He was a two-time cancer survivor.

The Padres announced Tuesday that they will open the Home Plate Gate at Petco Park later that afternoon for fans who wish to gather and pay their respects.

In a statement, Padres CEO Erik Greupner wrote: “The Padres organization mourns the passing of our beloved chairman and owner, Peter Seidler. Today, our love and prayers encircle Peter’s family as they grieve the loss of an extraordinary husband, father, son, brother, uncle and friend. Peter was a kind and generous man who was devoted to his wife, children and extended family. He also consistently exhibited heartfelt compassion for others, especially those less fortunate.

“His impact on the city of San Diego and the baseball world will be felt for generations. His generous spirit is now firmly embedded in the fabric of the Padres. Although he was our chairman and owner, Peter was at his core a Padres fan. He will be dearly missed.”

The grandson of decorated Los Angeles Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley and a devoted baseball fan himself, Seidler will forever be remembered as the man who lifted the Padres to unprecedented levels, green-lighting major free-agent contracts for Manny Machado and Xander Bogaerts while also spending big to retain the likes of Fernando Tatis Jr., Joe Musgrove and Yu Darvish, among others.

Under Seidler’s watch, the Padres reached the postseason during the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season, ending a 14-year drought, and went all the way to the National League Championship Series in 2022, a year highlighted by a thrilling, Division Series-clinching victory over the rival Dodgers in front of a sold-out Petco Park.

The Padres operate within a bottom-third television market, with a fan base nationally considered to be generally apathetic, but Preller sternly believed the locals would rally around his team if an ownership group properly invested in it. Before his passing, Preller saw that vision become a reality. Despite a disappointing, playoff-less finish, the Padres set a new attendance record in 2023, selling the second-most tickets in baseball and drawing more than 3 million fans for only the second time in their history. Record revenues came with it.

Their Opening Day payroll stood at nearly $250 million, third-highest in the sport — behind only the New York Yankees and the New York Mets — and roughly 40% higher than the franchise-record-setting number they reached just two years earlier. Widespread reports had them cutting costs this offseason, but the Padres were still expected to operate within the $200 million range, a sizeable commitment for a team that had been handled as a small-market franchise through its prior decades of existence.

Seidler, co-founder of the private-equity investment firm Seidler Equity Partners, helped purchase the Padres in 2012 and officially became the controlling owner in November of 2020. A two-time survivor of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Seidler also became a major ambassador in San Diego. Seven years ago, he formed the “Tuesday Group” that hosted weekly meetings to address homelessness issues throughout San Diego. One year, he helped raise more than $18 million through the Padres’ “Pedal the Cause” for local cancer research. Since he began to preside over the team, the Padres say donations for their foundation, which supports underserved communities in the region, have grown “by more than 10-fold.”

Within the Padres and throughout the community, Seidler built a reputation as somebody who was exceedingly passionate, deeply loyal and uncommonly kind. He often talked about seeing the good in people and choosing to think positively about difficult situations. And he wanted nothing more than to bring San Diego its first major championship.

Seidler is survived by his wife, Sheel, his mother, Terry, three children, and nine brothers and sisters.

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