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The Oakland A’s and the Coliseum–the Past, the Present, and the Future

| July 22, 2013
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The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. (Getty Images)

The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. (Getty Images)

The Bay Area is one of just four metro areas across the United States blessed with not one but two major league baseball teams (five, if you count Washington, D.C., and Baltimore as a single metro area).

That means we have two teams to root for—odds are at least one of them won’t stink in a given year—or one to cheer and the other to jeer (hey, you San Francisco Giants and Oakland A’s fans, can’t we all just get along?).

One of the big differences between our local teams: their home stadiums.

After years and years of trying to get out of Candlestick Park, the Giants succeeded in building a jewel of a ballpark on the waterfront south of the Bay Bridge. The new place, named after a phone company, opened in 2000, and the crowds have rolled in even when the home team’s play was less than inspiring.

The Athletics, on the other hand, are playing in the badly remodeled Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, the multipurpose stadium that became their home in 1968 after the late owner Charles O. Finley moved the franchise from Kansas City. In addition to the botched renovations, undertaken in the mid-1990s to make the facility more welcoming to the Oakland Raiders, the stadium is showing its age. Last month, for instance, a sewage backup forced both the A’s and visiting Seattle Mariners to flee their clubhouses to take their postgame showers in the Raiders’s locker room.

Oakland A’s owner Lew Wolff would love to be done with the Coliseum. He’s been trying for years to take the team to San Jose. The Giants have made that impossible, so far, by invoking their territorial rights to the South Bay. That led San Jose to sue Major League Baseball over its failure to resolve the situation. Meantime, Oakland city officials are still trying to nail down a bona fide site for a new waterfront ballpark.

Just as we have two teams to root for locally, KQED News has two staffers who have just produced stories on the A’s stadium issue for national outlets attracted to the story by the San Jose lawsuit. Producer Nina Thorsen has a piece on today’s “Marketplace”: “Oakland A’s consider a move to Silicon Valley.” And editor Dan Brekke had a story Saturday on “Only A Game,” a weekly NPR sports show from Boston’s WBUR: “The Oakland A’s Case for a New Stadium.”

Here’s the audio: Thorsen’s story first, followed by Brekke’s.

Marketplace: Oakland A’s consider a move to Silicon Valley

Only A Game: The Oakland A’s Case for a New Stadium
Listen to the story.

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  • Michael

    This story completed misses the point of the owner neglecting anything Oakland and alienating himself from the fans in his quest to cash-in with a SJ stadium. This is why it appears they have no choice but to go to SJ.

    • Sixto

      What a sexy comment.

      • Dan Brekke

        tdaff, this is why the phrase “lies, damn lies, and statistics” was coined. “The A’s have never drawn well in Oakland”? The five years just prior to your sample, the A’s drew quite well by any measure and easily beat the league average. Here are some more numbers: The Giants drew below the league average for the 21 years prior to moving to Pacbell Park and only exceeded the league average once between 1966 and 2000. In 1989, the season when both teams reached the World Series, Oakland outdrew San Francisco by better than 30 percent. Take what you like from those numbers, but I wouldn’t conclude they say the Giants never drew well in San Francisco–or that the A’s could not draw well in Oakland.

    • tdaff

      Here’s a story that predates Lew Wolff:

      Per the Baseball Almanac, fans have not been showing up for the last 20 years. The A’s have drawn below the AL attendance average for 19 of the last 20 years, where 2003 was the only exception. Historically, the Oakland A’s have never drawn more than 35K average fans a game. Stop complaining about Lew Wolff alienating the fans – under Wolff the A’s have averaged almost the exact number of fans per game (20,282) as the previous owners (21,634). The author did not miss any point, there is no point to be made – the A’s have never drawn well in Oakland.