29 September 2005

Understanding the markets

Most of you should be pretty familiar with the following map:

This is basically how we in the nine-county Bay Area view ourselves. There are some who consider parts of Marin County essentially an extension of San Francisco, and there are those who consider parts of San Mateo and Alameda Counties to be part of Silicon Valley, making them an extension of the South Bay. Many commuters come from cities like Tracy and Hollister, which are outside these county boundaries. This is the population breakdown by area, based on 2004 estimates:
  • SF/Peninsula (red): 1,443,446
  • North Bay (gray): 1,259,804
  • East Bay (green): 2,464,379
  • South Bay (blue): 1,685,188
  • Total Bay Area Population: 6,852,817
The 6.85 million total puts the Bay Area at #4 in the country among metropolitan areas. For some reason the US Census has chosen to break the Bay Area into two regions, one including only Santa Clara county, and the other including everything else except for Sonoma, Napa, and Solano Counties. If you look at the Bay Area based on that division, the population of the larger area (called SF-Oakland-Fremont) is 5,167,629, while the separate South Bay stays as is. With the split, the SF-Oakland-Fremont area is #12 in the nation, while the South Bay is #28.

If you think that lacks uniformity, take a look at this map showing how MLB has divided the Bay Area with respect to stadium building:

The five orange counties represent Giants territory, while the two green areas represent A's territory. Not shown is Monterey County, which was up until recently part of the Giants' territory. Lew Wolff mentioned during his August press conference that Monterey County may be part of the A's territory, though it's likely he misspoke - not that anyone's going to build a ballpark in Carmel or Salinas. The three gray North Bay counties are unassigned. Based on this form of gerrymandering, here are how the individual territories compare to the other California teams' defined territories in terms of metro population:
  • Giants - 4,039,941
  • A's - 2,464,379
  • Padres - 2,931,714
  • Dodgers/Angels - 13,723,029 (the two teams share LA, Ventura, and Orange counties)
The A's territory, while not a result of an equitable split, still compares favorably to Pittsburgh (#20), Tampa-St. Petersburg (#21), and Denver (#22). Yet by limiting the A's territory to Alameda and Contra Costa counties, it gives the appearance that the East Bay by itself is a small market. But is it?

The problem with this definition of territories is that it makes it appear that residents of one territory do not travel outside their counties to work, shop, or enjoy entertainment such as a baseball game. This is obviously not the case in the Bay Area, where residents are used to driving a half-hour to get to an event, whether it's held in San Francisco, Oakland, or San Jose. San Jose and Oakland television stations all try to broadcast from towers near San Francisco because Mt. San Bruno's central location allows them to capture more of the Bay Area. The Giants and A's draw from all over the Bay Area, though both have entrenched fanbases in their respective communities. Only one conclusion can be made from this analysis:

The Oakland Athletics are not a small market team.

If the A's aren't a small market team, what is responsible for the attendance problem? Can it only be blamed on the ballpark?

Next up: A comparison of attendance prior to and following: A) a World Series win, and B) the opening of a new stadium.

Chavez chimes in on ballpark

By now, many of you have already seen yesterday's article by Joe Roderick in the Merc about third baseman Eric Chavez's continued puzzlement with the lackluster attendance at the Coliseum. The important thing to note is that Chavez doesn't blame the fans, he blames the venue.

Chavez has been both praised and criticized for his candor and at times too-honest demeanor, so this should come as no surprise. Consider, for a moment, Chavez's history. He's a born-and-bred San Diegan, going far enough to name his newborn son Diego (though the inspiration could have come from Diego Rivera or Maradona instead, I suppose). His ties to the San Diego area are still strong despite the fact that he and his family live in Scottsdale in the offseason. San Diego opened Petco Park last year, leaving Oakland as the only multipurpose facility to host a MLB team in California.

Since the A's are the only team left in this predicament, it's almost guaranteed to finish last among the five California teams in attendance every year until a new ballpark is built. Here's how we can expect them to finish this season based on current totals and per-game averages:
  1. LA Dodgers (#2 in MLB, 3.6 million projected)
  2. LA Angels (#3 in MLB, 3.4 million total - season completed)
  3. SF Giants (#5 in MLB, 3.18 million projected)
  4. SD Padres (#6 in MLB, 2.88 million projected)
  5. Oakland A's (#19 in MLB, 2.12 million projected)
When the numbers are presented in this manner, the difference between the A's and the other four teams is stark. I'll go into this further in the next post.

26 September 2005

The Trouble With Transit

There were a slew of articles in the last week about different BART projects and their respective funding difficulties. Here's a recap:
  • Oakland Airport BART Connector - BART is looking to private sources to build and fund the remainder of the Airport Connector. For now the project is a 3.2-mile people mover or monorail on an elevated track between the Coliseum BART station and Oakland International Airport, with a couple of stops in between along Hegenberger. For whatever reason, federal funds for it were not included in the huge transportation bill passed earlier in the summer. The problem here is that privatizing the connector will increase the cost to riders, to the tune of $5 per ride. The effect on the ballpark project is that this effectively eliminates the connector as an option for service from Coliseum BART to the ballpark development area, due to its cost and the fact that no one is intervening to propose a ballpark development area extension. Just for comparison, it should be pointed out that the current fare from Millbrae to the Coliseum station is $4.65.
  • BART-to-San Jose Extension - VTA just came out with new ridership and cost figures. The cost of the project is now $4.7 billion instead of the $4.2 billion projected in 2003, and ridership estimates are up 33% due to higher density development plans. While the project would mostly be funded by a 1/4-cent sales tax that could go for 25-30 years, VTA is also looking for $973 million in federal funding as well. VTA also revised its service opening date from 2015 to 2018. Should that proceed on schedule, there would be an 7-8 year gap between the opening of a ballpark in downtown San Jose and the start of BART service to the area.
  • BART-to-Warm Springs Extension - The above link also indicates that the Warm Springs extension is dependent on the eventual extension to San Jose, even though Warm Springs would be built first. If WSX doesn't get built, that's one selling point Fremont ballpark proponents won't have at their disposal.
Oddly enough, since none of these projects were being funded in the recent transportation bill, none could be cut or delayed as a result of post-Katrina/Rita cost-cutting efforts.

24 September 2005

AP article - little new

An AP article that appears in Saturday's Chronicle provides another recap of the ballpark situation. Most of it is available in other reports and on this blog as well. There was one new piece of info that I found telling:

Oakland City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente said the city is committed to evaluating the potential of the area where the A's want to build and will dedicate someone to the job but there are many hurdles.

"More than money, there are definitely going to be other issues. You have a lot of challenges in that site but that doesn't mean that that cannot be done," De La Fuente said. "We're going to be working with them and hopefully we'll arrive to some great solution."

"Committed to evaluating the potential" and "will dedicate someone to the job" do not sound promising. I understand that both the city and the county are in a budget crunch, but someone should have been steering this in City Hall two weeks ago.

AM ownership chart

To illustrate how difficult it may be to get a quality radio deal, I've assembled a chart that lists every Bay Area AM radio station, signal strength, owner, and other information. The stations in gray are not considered likely candidates for the A's due to existing programming incompatibilities or lack of signal, or previous history. The stations in blue appear to be the best candidates. That isn't to say it can't change - the sale of Disney/ABC and Susquehanna stations may alter the local radio landscape significantly. Click on the graphic to download or view a larger version.

An explanation of the data:
  • Power is listed in kilowatts (kW)
  • The FCC has a good explanation of station classes here.
  • Sale pending indicates that the station or its parent company is for sale.
  • Applied "xxkW-Day" or "xxkW-Night" indicates that the station has applied for an approval for signal boost. Because of the various issues involved, changes have to go through a lengthy review and commenting process.
The station candidates:
  • KSFO - Many of you may remember KSFO's lengthy run as the A's flagship. That ended when their format switched from oldies to talk. Last year KSFO started broadcasting Raiders games. KSFO may be interested in broadcasting the A's again, but that would be largely dependent on the sale of station as part of Disney's radio portfolio. KSFO is managed by KGO's Mickey Luckoff.
  • Both KNEW-910 and KQKE-960 (formerly KABL) had turns broadcasting the A's in the recent past. Both received complaints due to their weak signal. Both are owned by Disney and run out of Oakland. Both are also run by former KNBR helmer Bob Agnew. Either could be a candidate for the A's when the dust settles. KQKE may be more likely due to the financial status of the Air America network.
  • There's a good chance that KTCT (KNBR-1050) will stay as it is because of the numerous deals KNBR has with local teams. Having two stations reduces the chances of overlapping programming, but it's also expensive to fill in programming during other hours. The next owner may decide sooner or later to either reprogram or sell KTCT because it's too expensive to keep the status quo.
  • KNTS is a pretty small station out of the Peninsula. It probably won't be a player unless they get the FCC's approval to pump 50,000 watts 24/7. If they do, they'll move their transmitter to the other side of the bay in Hayward. Right now KNTS is mostly a talk station, but they have the most game broadcasts of any station other than KNBR, which makes them a potentially compelling candidate.
  • KMKY is the Radio Disney station targeted to kids and Disney aficionados. Since the station was more of a constant promotional tool for the mother ship than anything else, it's likely that the new owner wouldn't be interested in continuing the same format.
  • In May, Infinity converted former "young country" station KYCY into KYou Radio, the first station in the United States to broadcast podcasts. They ran into some legal difficulty soon after that, but as of now they're still kicking. Oddly enough, the station accepts podcasts, but does not make podcasts of its broadcasts available to the public . If the experiment fails, Infinity may look to sell since the station historically hasn't been much of a ratings powerhouse. Infinity also applied for a signal boost and transmitter move to the South Bay.
  • KLIV is a small news station out of San Jose. I can't see KLIV being a flagship station due to its limited range, but if the A's wanted to have lower power North Bay and South Bay stations to cover the entire Bay Area, it's a possibility.
The corporate suitors have some restrictions as dictated by the FCC. The most important one is that no one can own more than 8 stations in the same market or 5 of the same class in a single market. That has forced both Infinity and Clear Channel to make station swaps and sales for the sake of compliance. If one of those behemoths ends up buying either the Disney or Susquehanna properties, one or more stations just might become available. Another company considered a frontrunner is Citadel Broadcasting, which has stations in mostly smaller markets.

22 September 2005

Neil Hayes column

Contra Costa Times columnist Neil Hayes has a pretty scathing indictment of the fanbase and the attendance woes in today's edition. Like Hayes, I don't have an explanation for it. The worst part of it is that it's the one negative that the local media immediately latch onto here. I've heard comments from Gary Radnich and Raj Mathai, and I had tuned into other local newscasts, I probably would've heard the same from their counterparts.

Here's a different perspective on attendance:
  • The A's drew 48,203 total during the three-game series against the Twins, including a large number of no-shows on Tuesday night due to the storm remnants that came through the area.
  • The Yankees yesterday drew 50,382 on Wednesday night alone, and have averaged more than 50,000 for the season.
  • The A's will be down in total season attendance for the second straight season unless they average 40,000 per game for the final seven games of the homestand. I project the final number to be slightly over 2.1 million for the season, which places them 2-5% below either 2004 or 2003 figures.
In attempting to analyze the situation, I posted a diary on Athletics Nation, along with a poll that asks which group is hardest to market to: the casual fan, the fringe hardcore fan, the small business person, or a large corporate entity. Take a look at it and vote. I don't think the situation can be solved by simply winning a playoff or World Series, or even by building a new ballpark. My feeling is that there needs to be a bigger effort to build the die-hard fanbase along with a push to promote the family experience at the ballpark, which is far underrated and isn't exploited enough.

Some appear to be either content with or resigned to the idea that the A's won't draw more than 2.1-2.2 million per season in the current situation. Frankly, that shows a lack of creativity. There needs to be more done to build the culture that is the A's fanbase. There are no simple or automatic ways to do this, but it should be what the A's ownership shoot for. The ownership group can't be happy with this, and there has to be a renewed focus in the offseason. As clever as the "A's Brand" ad campaign has been, it's had a limited effect on attendance. People still come for the usual promotions and giveaways.

Here's an idea for A's marketing: Put fans in the ads. Interview the diehards. Have them explain why they love the A's and the game. Show shots of parents raising their kids to be A's fans. Do a TV ad of a local East Bay family who has 3 generations of proud A's fans. Promote the culture. More than any other sport, baseball mines the mythology and history of itself. Sometimes it goes a little overboard in that respect, but there are ways to tap into those emotional links without appearing smug or aggrandizing. There's room for the A's Brand campaign as well.

One item from the column that could get easily overlooked: Hayes' plea for the A's to invest in their own radio station. With Bob Agnew hinting at changes at KNEW and KQKE, there may be some interesting news about that in the offseason.

20 September 2005

News roundup

Some bits of news from here and there....

... but first, I've had this asked of me frequently the last couple of weeks, so I should answer it: I haven't heard anything new regarding stadium plans. In fact, I doubt we'll hear anything significant for the rest of the regular season, and throughout the playoffs for that matter. November is when the business operations side of the team takes precedence over the baseball side, so we should hear more then. After that, the hot stove league starts going, then the winter meetings, free agent signings and trades, and before you know it, April 1 will be upon us.

Two items from the same Matier and Ross column last Saturday:
  • Ex-KNBR program director Bob Agnew has resurfaced to helm Clear Channel AM stations KNEW-910 (right-wingers) and KQKE-960 (left-wingers). Though both are talk stations, both also have sports programming, and it wouldn't be surprising to see the A's on one (or even both) stations next season. Now, if you told me in April that Agnew would be fired and would end up with a competing station with the possibility to broadcast A's games, I know what I would've said.
  • Ron Dellums is expected to announce whether he'll run for the Oakland mayoral position by October 1. The IDLF camp is keeping close tabs on Dellums, who is probably the council president's only significant opposition right now.
From Reuters: Contrary to my previous update on Susquehanna, buyers for the different media properties (radio/cable) may be chosen by the end of the week.

San Diego and Washington are both mulling over ballpark village projects. San Diego is deciding on tall housing towers, which have their opponents in the project's nearby neighbor, the Port of San Diego. Washington is still in the conceptual phase, as there's still disagreement on everything from the orientation of the field to the facade to the height of buildings near the ballpark. Yet the District is contractually obligated to have it open by the beginning of the 2008 season, which is only 29+ months away. Tick tick tick...

That brings us back to the Oakland ballpark situation. If there's going to be any hope of having a ballpark open by the start of the 2009 season, Oakland officials are going to have to make serious progress on the land acquisition and rezoning effort. It's going to be much more difficult in Oakland because of the sheer size of the land to be acquired - 100 acres as opposed to only 20 for the DC project and 7 for the remaining San Diego ballpark village land, which has already been acquired but is going through final approval.

Chip Johnson's column on the Hegenberger Wal-Mart notes that something is being planned for the HomeBase (Coliseum South) location. I'm trying to find out more about this.

Attendance last night was an abysmal 15,262, and don't think that Wolff, who was in the audience last night, didn't notice. To reach last season's attendance total, the A's will have to average over 34,000 per game for the rest of the homestand. I'm doing my part by going tonight and I'm bringing coworkers tomorrow for an "offsite team building session." People, let's get out there!

14 September 2005

Tidbit on Susquehanna Media (KNBR)

Radio Ink has a brief note and a quote about the sale Susquehanna Media. Yesterday was the deadline to submit bids, and it appears that it will take some time to sort them out.

The York Daily Record also has an article on the deadline and sale as well.

SF Weekly analyzes ballpark design

An engaging report by SF Weekly's Tommy Craggs discusses the evolution modern ballpark design, and how the design presented last month by Lew Wolff (drawn up by 360 Architecture) fits into the picture. There are excellent quotes by consultant John Pastier and architect/writer Phillip Bess, who wrote the excellent treatise on ballpark architecture, City Baseball Magic. The article also delves into the retro trend and the New Urbanist movement, from which the Oakland concept was spawned.

09 September 2005

SB 4 dies on the vine

The legislature ended its short session last night without SB 4 coming to a vote, which means any proponents will have to try again next year. As I noted earlier, the bill went through some major changes in terms of the bond approval mechanism, effectively neutering it. This effectively keeps the status quo, where groups looking for tax-free bond financing will have to go strictly through municipalities and joint powers authorities, and if public sources are required such as taxes, votes will be required.

08 September 2005

Recap of Selig speech

Bud Selig's speech and subsequent Q&A session was about an hour long total. The speech was a brief history of Selig's time as an owner, then as the commissioner. Not naturally the most charismatic of speakers, Selig's sporadic eye contact with the audience made the delivery fairly dull, and the speech an exercise in self-aggrandizement. As expected, Selig didn't say anything to encourage San Jose supporters. In fact, his statements should provide some hope for Oakland supporters, though no one should be proclaiming Selig as the savior of baseball in Oakland just yet.

Notes: The audio stream of the event will be played on KQED-FM on Friday night at 8 p.m. An AP article focused largely on steroids is now available on the Chronicle's SF Gate site. Daniel Brown from the Merc also wrote an article more geared towards territorial rights. Channels 5, 7, and 11 were present getting video.

Selig was initially flanked by former Commonwealth Club president Joe Epstein and somewhat surprisingly, County Assessor Larry Stone, better known as an irritant for East Bay supporters. Stone emceed the event, and before he finished his introduction of Selig, he plugged the MLB-to-San Jose effort, almost on cue.

Notes from the speech portion:
  • MLB will surpass last season's league attendance record by the end of the current season.
  • He talked up the significant rise in the value of the Dodgers franchise when it changed hands from the O'Malleys to Fox and finally to Frank McCourt. He did not let slip an estimate of the Expos' eventual selling price.
  • Moneyball was mentioned as a subject that is "theological in nature."
  • Revenue sharing, payroll taxing (luxury taxes), and the debt service rule are the base of the current financial structure. He sees little need to change the structure in the near future.
  • The speech was littered with quotes from Mark Twain, Thomas Wolfe, and Doris Kearns Goodwin.
  • Steroids is cheating. The only other substance mentioned was andro, and only as a historical reference. No mention of HGH.
  • He noted that in the midst of all of the media's criticism of how MLB handled steroids during the 90's, he looked up articles written during the era and saw only "11 articles that mentioned steroids."
The Q&A was done via responses to selected questions the audience submitted on comment cards. Only 10 questions were answered, one of which was a throwaway question about the commish's relationship with George Steinbrenner. Here's the skinny on the question segment:

1. What happened to the Reggie Jackson group's bid to buy the A's?
  • Selig claims it was Schott/Hofmann that decided to not entertain Jackson. He acknowledged that this contradicts Schott's initial statements on the matter, but insisted that it was the ownership group that made the decision, noting that the commissioner's office doesn't have to time interfere with these things. MLB will only step in when it's time to evaluate a group's financial worthiness.
2. Any thoughts on the idea of limits to the number intentional walks a batter can receive (Bonds rule)?
  • Not happening. No way baseball will change rules for a single individual.
3. Is a salary cap in the future?
  • "I'm comfortable where we are," Selig said.
4. What's being done about tight-fisted owners who pocket revenue sharing money instead of spending it on players?
  • "That phenomenon is a myth that somehow keeps getting perpetuated," said Selig. According to Selig, the league shares the books with the owners, and the payers (big market "have" teams) wouldn't stand for any prolonged effort by other owners to stash the money. Again, he reinforced the notion that the baseball's economic model is good.
5. What about the influence of international players?
  • This gave Selig the chance to tout the World Baseball Classic. He did this during the speech as well.
6. Is the DH rule going to change anytime soon?
  • The DH was one of the few things on which he agreed with former A's owner Charlie Finley (Yes for the AL). He's happy with the way it stands since the teams in the two leagues are happy with the existing rules. (A good follow-up would've been to ask for his take on using the DH in NL-hosted games and the hitting pitcher in AL-hosted games, but there was no opportunity for follow-ups.)
  • The only change he might see happening is a geographical redistribution of teams, but he didn't get specific.
7. What is the league doing about steroids and its impact on records?
  • Without outright saying it, Selig indicated that he's leaving the records alone and will keep them asterisk-free. We'll see if that holds up if any other high-profile sluggers are shown to have used.
8. What about the exclusivity of territorial rights?
  • Repeating a statement he made weeks ago, Selig said, "You couldn't run the sport without internal rules and you can't make exceptions."
  • The Giants' territorial rights were affirmed when they made the huge private investment in SBC Park.
  • His feelings on relocation are heavily shaped by the Braves' move to Atlanta. Besides the territorial rights issue, he appears to be stridently anti-move, though his previous statements about the situation in Miami raise questions about that.
  • Regarding San Jose, he said that "San Jose is a great location, but that's not the issue. We have to protect the status quo. We're clearly not going to expand."
9. Epstein posed a follow-up: "Is there a process by which a vote could be taken by the owners to overturn these rights?"
  • "No. It's not a question of overturning rights," replied Selig. I'm not certain if the response meant that he would not allow it to come to vote, or whether he was rendering his opinion on the outcome of a vote. Surely the owners would not vote for anything that could potentially threaten their own financial well-being.
  • He trumpeted the party line about "staying focused on Oakland." The question of what would happen if the Oakland deal didn't succeed was not asked.

The San Jose boosters I overheard upon leaving didn't appear discouraged, least of all Larry Stone. While Selig dismissed the idea of overturning the Giants' territorial rights, that's the weakest option because it's the least realistic. Maury Brown of Business of Baseball and the Oregon Stadium Campaign and I have had this discussion in the past, and I agree with him that for the A's to move anywhere, whether it's San Jose, Portland, Vegas, or Sacramento, the bidding group needs to make an extremely compelling case - not just to a single affected owner, but to all 30 owners and MLB. Oakland, with its location and access, is hard to argue against. Any bids to move the team will have to be comprehensive, probably including packaged TV and radio deals and lists of pre-committed corporate sponsors (because those are Oakland's weak points currently). Without those requirements, I doubt any bid would be entertained.

Remember that in Wolff's press conference last month, he talked about the ability of the East Bay business market to fill the 40 luxury suites and 40 minisuites (plus club seats) that he wants to build in the new ballpark. It stands to reason that he'll compare that to other market studies, determine the costs and risk factors, and then decide - if it even gets to that point.

07 September 2005

Commonwealth Club - Selig appearance

I'll be attending tonight's Commonwealth Club event featuring Bud Selig in San Jose. I may be able to ask him a question. What would you ask the commish? I have a list so far, and I except to check off most of those questions as the night progresses. Expect an update later tonight.

06 September 2005

Business Journal picks up the SB 4 trail

An article in the San Jose Business Journal summarizes the current situation with SB 4 and has comment from local politicians from Fremont and San Jose. Though the piece has a definite South Bay focus, the financing structure created once SB 4 passes would be available to every city, county, and joint powers authority in the state that wants to finance a public venue, including Oakland and the JPA. As noted in an earlier post, it could create an competitive bidding environment among cities, with the winner providing the most favorable deal for a team owner.

There should be some potential benefit for San Jose Earthquakes fans. AEG, which has threatened to move the Earthquakes as early as after the end of the 2005 season, is on record as supporting the bill, so it knows the ramifications. The Santa Clara County Fairgrounds, which has been touted as a possible site for a huge soccer complex with a 25,000-seat soccer stadium at the heart of it (like those in Dallas and LA), would become a much more likely possibility.

01 September 2005

Radio and SB 4 news

Any pursuit of KTCT-1050 AM as the A's flagship may soon be rendered moot when Susquehanna Pfaltzgraff decides which bidder wins the right to purchase its radio properties. Bidding is open for Susquehanna Media until September 13, though the company isn't releasing any other details. The parent company, Susquehanna Pfaltzgraff, has already divested itself of its Internet consulting business, SusQtech, and its dinnerware business as well. Top suitors include Infinity, Clear Channel, Cox Radio, and Entercom. Business continues at KTCT, which is applying for the abililty to broadcast at 50,000 watts at night as well as during the day.

SB 4 continues its march through legislature. Next up is a vote in the Assembly's Committee on Jobs, Economic Development, and the Economy, which should be a breeze since the potential impact of large numbers of construction jobs makes the bill (at least within the limited context the JED&E committee works) a near no-brainer. According to the Assembly's published schedule, the next meeting for the committee is on Tuesday, September 6. That would give the bill 3 days, or the rest of the week, to pass the committee, get a vote after the third reading on the Assembly floor, then get concurrence for the amended version on the Senate floor before the end of business on the 9th. Keep in mind that the bill does not need to be signed by the Governor to become law, it only needs to pass both houses and not get vetoed by the Governor afterwards. If all of that happens, on January 1, 2006 the bill would become law.

Measuring a stadium's value just released their baseball Fan Value Index, which attempts to quantify the experience at each of the thirty MLB ballparks based on prices, amenities, and "intangibles" such as neighborhood and atmosphere.

McAfee Coliseum landed right in the middle, at #15 between Yankee Stadium and U.S. Cellular Field. In giving the Coliseum a score of 40 out of 70 possible points, reviewer James Black hit the nail right on the head in one of his closing comments:
"Despite regularly producing playoff teams since the 1970s, the A's play in one of the majors' least interesting ballparks, while across the Bay the Giants' inconsistent play (at best) is rewarded with a veritable Taj Mahal."
Surprisingly, that very Taj Mahal across the bay placed 24th on the list, scoring a total of 37. The low scores came largely from inflated prices cited from Team Marketing Report's Fan Cost Index, with which I have to take some issue. It basically assumes that a family will buy the same food and souvenirs at every game, which is less likely to happen the more one goes. I can't comment on souvenirs since I don't buy them, but food prices are only slightly higher at SBC versus those at the Coliseum. A microbrew usually costs a quarter more in SF, while a hot dog is 25-50 cents more. SBC, through its pouring rights deal with Coke, has one pretty unique item not found in other ballparks: Coke vending machines. When the park opened in 2000, those 1.5 L bottles cost only $1. They've steadily gone up since then and are no longer a great deal at $3 (IIRC), but they more than did the job since they didn't have long lines and the sodas were always cold. It's an idea that should be considered for a new A's ballpark, since the overhead compared to using vendors is relatively low. No, I am not arguing for the return of the Automat, but for something as simple as a drink, there are obviously more efficient ways of selling it, and vending machines make sense.

Incidentally, the top-ranked venue this year was Miller Park, which like the Coliseum has lots of parking and plenty of walk-up tickets available. Limited public transit options knocked it down a bit, but the great tailgating experience and the amenities available in the new ballpark boosted its score. PNC Park placed second, Coors Field third, and Angels Stadium fourth (thanks to Arte Moreno's promise of reasonably-priced concessions and tickets).