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.