I suppose you have to admit it, that at least by today's standards, the Oakland Coliseum is a dump. It's the last multi-purpose stadium that was built in the 1960s and the last to house both an NFL and MLB team. There's no kids play area, party porch or a giant baseball glove above left field, but that doesn't mean it isn't a bad place to watch a ball game. You don't have to pay for all those frills, either—ticket prices are pretty cheap.
The Oakland A's just hosted the New York Yankees in a three-game weekend series. The Yankees are the most successful and recognizable franchise in the history of American sports, but not very many people went to see them. The average attendance for the three games was 28,583.
Maybe the A's organization is pleased with that number. The latest MLB Attendance Report says the A's are averaging 20,218 per game which is the third worst in the big leagues. On the other side of the Bay Bridge, the frilly stadium with the big glove above left field is averaging 41,481—the fourth best. What's wrong with baseball fans in the East Bay?
The Giants will always be the number one team in the Bay Area, there's no denying that, but it's not like the A's are having a horrible year. They got swept by the Yankees, knocking their record below .500, but the franchise continues to be competitive without a lot of stars. That's probably part of the problem, too, but if you can't draw against the Yankees or Red Sox, part of the blame has got to go to the fans.
The other thing that has be scratching my head about people staying away in droves is the price of tickets. In Oakland, you can sit right behind home plate, in the lower rows, within shouting distance of the players (and umpires), for just $38! Move up to Row 21 under the overhang and out of the weekend sun for only 28 bucks (prices are little higher when teams like the Yankees are in town, but not much). Those seats at Dodger Stadium, or in San Francisco, would run you hundreds.
Because of the low crowds, a few years ago the A's but giant tarps over the upper deck seats, and don't even sell those tickets. That makes the official stadium capacity about 34,000, which means Friday night's game against the Yankees (fireworks night) was almost a sellout. It is inexplicable, though, because Oakland and San Francisco are considered in the same television market. If you watch the games on television, both have the same outlet (Comcast Sports Net) and carry many of the same sponsors.
The A's want a new stadium, and would like to relocate to San Jose. There's a whole complicated territorial issue with the Giants that is holding things up, but ownership seems committed to keeping the team in the Bay Area. Fans should be happy with those owners, because there's no reason for the A's to stay. With attendance that low, A's fans should consider themselves lucky that the team isn't in Portand or Charlotte right now.
Simply the Best: Incidentally, if you were wondering, the top teams in MLB attendance are Philadelphia, Texas, St. Louis, San Francisco, and then the Yankees, followed by the Dodgers (sixth), Boston, Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee, and Detroit.
Not Hot in Cleveland: I mentioned that the A's have the thirst-worst attendance in baseball. Tampa Bay is second-to-last. They have a winning ball club, but play in an indoor contraption where popups can hit catwalks. You'd still think that folks there would support the team, though. The worst attendance belongs to the Cleveland Indians, and there's no excuse for it. The Tribe is in first place in the AL Central, and when Jacobs (now Progressive) Field opened in 1994, they sold out every game for ten years. The Indians are averaging 16,734 fans per game in 2012.
Random Thoughts: Saw a note (on Twitter) that Don Larsen is auctioning his Yankees uniform that he wore during his World Series perfect game in 1956. He is reportedly selling it to fund his grandsons' college education. I nice gesture to be sure, but also a sad reminder that those athletes didn't make the money that is out there today... After what seems like too long of layoff, the Stanley Cup Finals finally get underway Thursday night with the Los Angeles Kings at the New Jersey Devils. I can't remember the last time I was this excited about hockey. I got to cover a San Jose Sharks playoff game in the 1990s. Maybe that was it... I've said before that it always seems like a tennis tournament gets exciting as soon as Andy Roddick is eliminated. That means we're going to have a helluva French Open. Roddick was bounced in the first round... It seems like I watch the Indianapolis 500 the same way every year. I get up in time to hear “Ladies and Gentlemen start your engines”, leave the TV on, and go back to sleep. I'm up by the time someone crashes in the final turn to allow Dario Franchitti to win it... Didn't see a lot of the coverage (but I'm sure there was plenty in northern California anyway), but Sunday was the 75th anniversary of the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge. Pretty cool.