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09 April 2008

Come for the food, stay for the baseball

As both local teams have ratcheted down on-field expectations this season, they've focused on a different means of getting folks out to the old ballyard - the food. The entire first week of Giants broadcasts have been full of plugs about new meal and dessert choices. One particularly brutal scene was earlier this week, when Jon Miller and Dave Flemming were nearly buried alive by dishes of strawberry shortcake when that particular subject came up.

The A's haven't been any better. They're pushing the all-you-can-eat section like it's the next great prescription drug. And during the radio booth's recent sampling of Kinder's barbecue, it seemed like an entire inning of play-by-play was lost. I can only hope that now the teams have the message out they won't have to needlessly flog the public with it. Some of us are just trying to listen to or watch a ballgame, y'know?

Then again, there are even better reasons to go to a game that have little to do with consumption. On Sunday I sat in the RF bleachers, Section 147. The game was well-pitched, the setting pleasant, the crowd rather sparse - except for the bleachers. On certain days when the bleachers are packed and you have the right people there, each of those little upper bleacher sections becomes a neighborhood. Yes, that same neighborhood feel that stadium designers ascribe to is already there. It's a design accident, really. Football stands these days are designed to prevent views of the field from the concourse. Instead they build up more seating rows right up to the next level of seats/suites. Given the right conditions, one of these sections turns into a happy little fan ecosystem, like a sunken ship will turn into a new reef.

So there we were, a bunch of strangers enjoying a game, some Indians fans, a maligned BoSox fan, some families. A couple of tikes were going up and down the aisle. Suddenly a fan at the back gave one of the kids a dollar. The child proceeded to do the robot, which thoroughly entertained everyone in the section. He did it again for others. Everyone laughed, many pictures were taken, all went home with smiles on their faces (even though the A's lost). I didn't see anyone with takeaway boxes from Kinder's. Few knew the names of the players on the field. It didn't matter. That's not to say that this phenomenon happens all the time or even frequently. Most weeknights those seats aren't filled. If it happened more often more would know about it. And more would go.

It's my hope that the A's and 360 recognize that the neighborhood concept doesn't occur just because you design a stadium a certain way. It takes certain fans, perhaps some decent weather, and a good ballgame. It's not something you can bottle.

One other thing disturbed my about Sunday. It appeared that an effort to start the Wave came from the LF bleachers. WTF? BleacherDave?

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

pretty quiet times on the stadium progress front, eh?

- jock i.

Jeffrey said...

I had a good time at a game on Friday night. I took my two eldest daughters, ages 8 and 5, and we sat in the bleachers. They loved the flag waving, and my brother and I made sure to teach them how crappy the wave is (which was trying to be started in the LF bleachers that night).

-Miconazale

Anonymous said...

a's fans created the wave ... what a bunch of hypocrites to imply you're above such silliness.

- pappy p.

Marine Layer said...

It's quite ignorant to paint all A's fans with such a broad brush.

Anonymous said...

www.thefremontbaseballvillage.com

Jeffrey said...

I HATE the wave and have been an A's fan since birth pretty much.

My favorite quote was from Bill King, who said during a broadcast, "It appears the idiot brigade is out today as the wave moves around the crowd."

Priceless.

Jeffrey said...

ML,
One thing I have gotten into since moving back to the bay about 8 months ago is the Bay Trail. Looking at maps on the baytrail.org web site... it looks like there is potential for an as yet developed portion of the trail to be "built" as a part of the Cisco Field Development. DO=o you know if this has been mentioned anywhere?

Marine Layer said...

jeffrey - Extension/completion of the Bay Trail has been discussed. I don't expect much to be done until salt ponds remediation project is more advanced.

Tony D. said...

Rhamesis,
Much to quiet around these parts. Since there's a "lull" on the Cisco Field front, question? When can we expect any news regarding Lew Wolff's proposed soccer stadium and the city of San Jose? I haven't become a MLS/Quakes backer by any means, but I think the soccer stadium development has a lot to do with the future of the A's. Recap: rezone Lew Wolff's 70+ acres in Edenvale (IStar) to help finance a soccer specific stadium, and provide Lew Wolff with exclusive development rights to 75+ acres of former FMC lands (a small portion which will be set aside for the aforementioned stadium). My belief, once all this takes place 1) the A's in Fremont definetely become "San Jose," or, as the eternal optimist, 2) the movement gets back in gear to get the A's to SJ proper. (If this post doesn't get Rob's hairs standing up straight, I don't know what will.)

Jeff said...

Why would the A's take the name of San Jose? It's still Giants territory and I don't think baseball would even allow it. Same if they wanted to call it San Francisco A's. I think Tony just likes to stir up shit.

Jeffrey said...

Did anyone go to thefremontbaseballvillage.com?

Cool site, no new info.

James said...

Jeffrey,

I checked it out last week and there wasn't much there at the time, but just pulled it up again. It's pretty impressive. I'd like to see more images, but all in all, it's a very good start.

Jimmy Jam said...

As long as Tony is bringing up the status of the Earthquakes SSS... I know this is a long term question but what about the future of HP Pavilion as far as shelf life of that place goes.

I know they've done a good job of updating the facility, and to me it still doesn't feel like it was all that long ago that it opened, but this year marks it's 15th anniversary. Time flies. I hope that it stands the test of time and it's a viable 50 year+ facility but realistically I'm guessing the Sharks might start mumbling about their outdated digs in another 10-15 years.

I always look at the Sharks and the possibility of a move from San Jose when thinking about how A's fans feel about the possible Fremont move. Say San Francisco gets a privately financed state of the art arena built in the next ten years and Sharks ownership and San Jose have trouble negotiating an A's/Quakes Wolfe-esque Special (or something similar) at the end of their lease. I hope it never comes down to it but if they left SJ but stayed in the Bay Area I'd stick with the team, no "San Jose or the team ceases to exist to me" mentality. But I can empathize with fans from Oakland because it's true, you can still follow the team and get to a game with relative ease, but it would never quite be the same if they became the San Francisco Sharks.

...Interesting, I was trying to find the lease timeline for HP Pavilion, couldn't find the year the lease ends but apparently according to this Forbes article the Sharks can opt out of their lease after this season. The blurb in the article says not to be surprised if they threaten to leave without renegotiating, but I think the writer is just taking "end of lease" at face value without taking all of the details into account. They've got a sweet deal, a recently upgraded facility, a rabid fan base and for the time being are still the only real game in town (sorry Sabercats). You never know what the future holds but not in 2008.

Jimmy Jam said...

Sorry forgot the link to the Forbes website re: the Sharks lease...

http://www.forbes.com/lists/2007/31/biz_07nhl_San-Jose-Sharks_312500.html

Marine Layer said...

That's excellent info, JimmyJam. Like you, I don't see the Sharks really threatening to leave anytime soon. But they certainly could try to leverage for a better lease. Thing is, the lease is not bad. They get a cut of revenue for all of the minor league franchises that operate out of HP Pavilion. The problem is the Sharks' media situation, which is poor compared to other Bay Area teams or even other NHL teams. To that end, I fully expect SVS+E and A's/Quakes to partner on their own cable channel once their current agreements with CSNBA run out in a couple of years.

Tony D. said...

OH THE HORROR! My beloved San Jose with NO TEAM from the top 4 sports leagues?!! Hopefully it never happens. R.M., with the Warriors suing CSN for the Giants stake in the network, due you really think they will want to lose the Sharks, A's, Sabercats (and possibly Quakes) after 2010? That would be a lot of ratings revenue going out the door for the Giants. I fully expect the G's to try to persuade the current roster to stay on board after their current agreements expire. Let's see, what might the A's want in return for staying with CSN/Giants...

Georob said...

Poetic justice, Tony. One minute it looks like SJ will get everything, the next minute they could have nothing.

As I've said before, San Jose needs more than a bunch of loud bloggers if they want to be a viable sports destination. And right now the city leaders don't care to match the decibel level.