The Oakland A's Can't Get Fans To Show Up
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The Oakland Athletics have averaged 8,165 fans per home game this season. That puts them on pace to draw just over 660,000 fans for the entire season, which would be the worst attendance outcome for a Major League Baseball team in nearly fifty years.
For context, their stadium, the Oakland Coliseum, has a seating capacity of 46,847.
2022 MLB Full-Season Attendance (Estimated)
Los Angeles Dodgers: 3.9 million
St. Louis Cardinals: 3.1 million
Atlanta Braves: 3 million
San Diego Padres: 2.9 million
New York Yankees: 2.9 million
30. Oakland Athletics: 661,365
But that isn’t even the worst part — there have been games this year where Oakland’s Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas has drawn more fans than its big league club, despite playing in a stadium that only seats 10,000 people, or about 20% of Oakland’s capacity.
So why is this happening in Oakland? Well, there are several reasons.
First, the Athletics have one of the worst ballparks in Major League Baseball. The Oakland Coliseum was built in 1964 and is nearly 60 years old. That makes it one of the oldest ballparks in baseball, alongside venues like Wrigley Field and Fenway Park.
Except there is just one problem — those are historic venues that have been delicately renovated to maintain their charm. The Coliseum is essentially the exact opposite.
The stadium’s lights have gone out during games. Players frequently complain about the field condition. And with the stadium situated below sea level, drainage problems have caused raw sewage to flow into the home, visitors, and even umpire clubhouses.
"I think the league has been really clear that this site does not fit the 21st-century vision of baseball in North America. You need a downtown urban location to be successful, especially in a two-team market where you have the Giants in a similar stadium on the waterfront,” says team president Dave Kaval.
Also, don’t forget about the possums that have been discovered in the press box.
And along with a crumbling stadium, the Oakland Athletics have also taken the unique approach of rebuilding the team while simultaneously increasing ticket prices.
The Athletics broke up a playoff-contending team after the 2021 season. They now have one of the lowest payrolls in baseball—$48 million vs. the MLB average of $148 million—and they currently sit dead last in the AL West with a 17-27 record.
But despite that, many ticket prices have roughly doubled from their pre-pandemic levels. For example, seats in Section 119 sold for $711 in 2019, yet the team asked for $1,587 this year (a 123% increase). Likewise, view-level seats went from $399 per seat in 2019 to $888 in 2022 (a 123% increase), and two season tickets in Section 225 that would have cost you $2,950 in 2019 are now being priced at $6,500 (a 120% increase).
Add in the fact that the team is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars each month looking at relocation options in Las Vegas, and the situation only gets worse.
The A’s have proposed a new 35,000-seat stadium development on the waterfront of the Howard Terminal. It would be a $1 billion ballpark that is privately financed, and the all-encompassing $12 billion project would also include commercial office space, retail shops, acres of public parks, and more.
But that project is still working its way up the political ladder. And in the meantime, A’s President Dave Kaval says the franchise has narrowed its search to two sites for a potential new ballpark in Las Vegas — both are near the Strip, and one would include the A’s purchasing land while the second is in partnership with an existing resort.
So we’ll see what happens. Vegas is a hot destination for pro sports teams right now. But just because they are searching in the area doesn’t necessarily mean it will happen. Leverage is helpful, and you always need a plan B. Because the truth is, if Oakland wants to keep the franchise, they’ll have to find a way to build a new ballpark.
I hope everyone has a great day. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.
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