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07 July 2008

ESPN SportsTravel visits the Coliseum

ESPN writer Anna Katherine Clemmons has a good write up on McAfee Coliseum today. She includes the history of the place with renovations, plus a smattering of opinions on the move. There is both praise and criticism of both the fans and the venue. Worthwhile read.

About the Oakland factor:
The stadium lies off of I-880, a quick jaunt from either San Francisco (assuming Bay Bridge traffic is light, which is almost never, despite the $4 toll) or San Jose.

But since San Francisco Bay Area's namesake city of hills, hippies and sourdough already has the Giants and 49ers, this home to the A's and the NFL's Raiders tends to attract suburban fans from a smattering of outlining towns.

So much so, that at this 6:05 p.m. game between the A's and the Rangers, I couldn't find an Oakland native. I searched diligently, talking to at least 30 fans inside the stadium before finally stumbling upon a city resident sitting in the center field section eating chicken tenders and French fries 10 minutes before the national anthem.

Pro-Oakland types often say that ownership has in effect spit on them and driven them away. Some non-Oaklanders have concluded that the fandom really hasn't been there in the first place. Honestly, I think it has more to do with numbers: Oakland's population is only 1/6th of the East Bay, even less of the Bay Area's 7 million. One thing I've pondered is how many former Oakland residents attend ballgames. As the Oakland Hills has taken in transplants from San Francisco and the rest of the country, certainly many longtime Oakland residents were displaced. Some have left the flats for opportunities elsewhere, especially with the erosion of the manufacturing sector. It's likely a combination of the above factors, which is rather inconvenient for partisans looking for an easy scapegoat.

I'll be in the stands tonight, with a slightly different perspective on the Coliseum since concluding the East Coast trip.

20 comments:

Zonis said...

I don't know. I've always met many, many more non-Oakland resident fans when I've been at the games. It really is hard to find them at the Coliseum it seems, as the article says, everyone seems to be from outside of Oakland, which isn't that supprising.

Anonymous said...

San Francisco Bay Area's namesake is San Francisco Bay. What a pile of shit.

Jeffrey said...

One place that isn't San Francisco Bay Area's namesake is Oakland.

It's funny how people from all over consider San Francisco (the city, not the bay) to be the place to go and stay... visiting teams don't even stay in Oakland.

If you beleived an Oakland partisans take it would be San Francisco that was originally named "Contra Costa", the other coast. Any place with "other" in the name is kind of second tier isn't it?

Snidely said...

We had 4 full season tickets for over 30 years. We used a lot of these ourselves and gave others away as business favors.
I gave them up this year because I felt supporting a lame duck team that was leaving town made no sense. I also was afraid others would lose interest as well and they would be useless as business favors.
We live on the Bkly./Okld. border. I can often leave our home and be in our seat in 30 minutes. My son in North Bkly. took BART.
The new stadium, 30 miles away, is neither near freeway or accessible.
I did go to my second game of the year last nite. I was in the "all you can eat" section. Several of the people near me were from Okld.

Anonymous said...

Contra Costa does not mean the other coast, it means against or adjacent to the coast.

James said...

Snidley,

You should probably look at a map. The new ballpark will be very close to two freeways and much more accessible to many parts of the bay area (including the major populations centers of SC County and the I-680 Corridor) than the Colliseum. Hey, but don't let the facts get in your way!

Jeffrey said...

yeah your right. My bad. I stole that bit from Art Spander without checking it out. He says that in the recent 40 Years of Champions show... Contra Costa meaning "Other Coast."

Anonymous said...

Chronicle reports today that "the team's plan to move to Fremont is stalled ..."

doh!!!

been wondering why everything is so quiet of late ... couldn't bode well.

Anonymous said...

I was going to make a comment about the SF centric description of the home of the Oakland A's. Unfortunately, you decided to heavily sensor this site. Therefore, I won't waste my time. Your insistence on censorship has hurt and minimized the traffic on this site. Open discourse is always the best policy and it's also much more interesting.

Jeffrey said...

The last report about Cisco Field that I recall was the EIR would be delayed. Is this "stall" something new?

I read the same report in the Chronicle and assumed it was not new.

Marine Layer said...

It's the process. I cautioned readers months ago that we were entering a quiet period, and the announcement of a December delivery of the EIR makes it a long quiet period. The parties can't do much negotiating until the EIR is out and later certified. Call it stalled, held up, whatever you like - the fact is nothing significant can really happen until the EIR is out.

Marine Layer said...

Anon - Is there anything inflammatory in your critique? If not, fire away. I know you'll be back to read this.

Anonymous said...

Seems to me, "stalled" means there are problems/issues ... but that's just me.

Most likely transportation, access and lack of viability of the real estate deal are issues "stalling" this. Again, that's just me.

Marine Layer said...

Transportation and access are to be addressed by the EIR, so no change there. Financial viability is another matter considering the volatility of the market. Of course, that would be the case regardless of where the ballpark were being built. It's doubly difficult in this case because of the housing component, which doesn't exist for any other stadium project.

Anonymous said...

I would guess that the viability of the land deal is more an issue for the financial institutions that would be paying for the construction of the stadium than it is for the City of Fremont. If they beg off, then the project would be in trouble. However, Slusser's comment of stalled and references to sources could mean just about anything. It would seem to me that if she meant to imply that there are issues beyond the wait for the EIR, it would merit more than a passing reference. If she has info regarding real problems it would be nice if she did a separate article on it.

Anonymous said...

Oakland A's fans don't want a ballpark in Fremont.

The sooner Lew Wolff & Co. realize this, the sooner they can begin to reclaim some of the alienated fan base. Fremont is not the answer. There is no history or tradition of Oakland A's baseball in Fremont. There is no adequate public transit system in Fremont. The idea of a ballpark in Fremont generates zero excitement among the majority of the fan base. The idea of a ballpark in Fremont is a detriment to new fans and to new season ticket sales. Lew Wolff needs to put this Fremont idea to rest and build the ballpark in the Coliseum parking lot near the current BART station.

It's pure insanity in this time of near five dollar gas prices and a collapsing Bay Area housing market, to even entertain the idea of a ballpark in an area with no public transportation and in an area dependent on real estate sales to fund this ballpark. This is absolute lunacy and it only alienates the current fan base.

Is this inflammatory? Or is it just the truth?

Anonymous said...

It's the truth, my friend, but nobody on this site wants to hear the truth.

In the end, they will understand the truth though.

Marine Layer said...

I actually agree on many of these points: the excitement factor, the lack of public transit, the lack of history related to Fremont. However, I don't think these things matter all that much.

Oakland partisans like to pull out the late-80's salad days as evidence of fan support. There are three major issues with this:

1. Statistically, 1989-92 are anomalous compared to the rest of the team's stay in Oakland. Support was buttressed by Wally Haas' willingness to go in the red to have the highest payroll in the sport. That brought in high-priced free agents while retaining stars such as the Bash Brothers. This brought in the casual fan, boosting attendance to levels not reached previously. In the current MLB economic climate, the A's couldn't duplicate this even if Wolff/Fisher were willing to go tens of millions in debt.

2. The best practical argument for keeping the A's in Oakland is the city's and stadium's central location. That's a 60's/70's era mindset. As ownership tries to bring in new/greater sources of revenue, centrality becomes less important as more upwardly mobile fans become the focus, like it or not. More of those fans are likely to drive than take transit. And I have to say that if "central" means choosing between being closer to Richmond or San Jose, San Jose makes more sense.

I proposed a ballpark at the Home Base site when I first started this site. I posited that it would be the best way to come to a good working agreement with the other Coliseum tenants, which wasn't going to be easy if a ballpark were built on the existing Coliseum parking lot. At the time I was told something was going to eventually be built there. The site was cleared but nothing's gone up yet.
Regardless of it being built at the existing Coliseum or just outside it, someone still has to finance it. Interest rates are through the roof compared to 10 years ago, and it's even worse for stadium projects that have to be backed by stadium revenues. So how does the financing work?

Marine Layer said...

They sure will. The truth is that the A's have been losing money for MLB for years compared to nearly all other teams. The truth is that something has to be done about it. The truth is that the Coliseum is hopelessly obsolete and to deny that is naive. The truth is that the A's can't continue to play in Oakland in their current situation indefinitely.

I go back to the old retail store analogy. The A's franchise is just like another mega-corporation who happens to have a location in Oakland. If that location has a long history of underperforming financially, what's to be done?

Jeffrey said...

Hey anons... speak for yourselves. I know plenty of fans who want the stadium in Fremont to happen.

And if so many people want the A's in Oakland, how come they didn't come to the keep the A's in Oakland rally's that were organized a few years ago?

The truth is... most A's fans want a new venue in the Bay Area, if that is in Oakland cool. If not, coool.