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Winning, conciliatory moves bring back Athletics fans

Oakland AthleticsThe best record in baseball and a recommitment to Oakland are generating dividends for the Oakland Athletics, as attendance at Coliseum is up and prospects are bright for a new ballpark.

Last season the A’s drew 22,337 fans per game. This year that number is up to 24,626 fans per game; a pretty good per-game increase, and quite a rise from 2009’s per-game average of 17,392, which was the low point for Athletics baseball: team ownership was opening dissing Oakland and the Coliseum while casting loving looks at San Jose. Since then, owners Lew Wolff and John Fisher have toned down the anti-Oakland rhetoric, talked openly about building a new ballpark in the Coliseum complex, and focused on the on-field product. As any baseball owner knows, it’s hard to sell tickets to the current ballpark while you’re openly taking about moving the team to a different market — say, like, San Jose. From SFBay:

The fans in right field Section 149 are waving their flags, beating their drums, and they have company. The section is one of only a few, despite the attendance jump, that is constantly chock-full.

So full that there remains a possibility that the team decides to remove the upper deck tarp before October. Perhaps the most important result of a continued attendance boost is an increase willingness for A’s ownership and city government to work out building a new stadium.

If the A’s can draw like the Giants, a loan would make sense. If the team drew 30,000 fans — and charged an average of 20 dollars per ticket — that’s nearly $50 million in gate receipts, and a jump in parking revenue for the city as well as jobs for the community.

And as far as making conciliatory moves: the team came to a final agreement with Oakland and Alameda County on a new 10-year lease for Coliseum, accepting changes imposed by the City Council. The team is responsible for any lease at the Coliseum even the Athletics move, but we’re not exactly talking huge bucks: the total cost of the 10-year lease is $20 million. The larger issue for team officials: working with the city on a new ballpark on the current Coliseum site, either as part of a huge Coliseum City development or a more modest development that also includes a new Oakland Raiders (NFL) stadium. The A’s are probably the closest to a new ballpark the team has ever been, and not picking a fight over the small deets while keeping an eye on the big picture — and the big reward — is a very smart move.

RELATED STORIES: Oakland Athletics lease extension due for approval tomorrow; Selig calls new Coliseum lease “crucial” in keeping A’s in Oakland; A’s close to Coliseum lease extension; Wolff confirms interest in Coliseum-area ballpark; Wolff: We’d be open to Oakland ballpark site; San Jose MLB appeal set for August; Oakland’s Coliseum City runs into hurdles; Oakland offers A’s ten-year Coliseum lease; A’s reject offer; Lashbrook: Hillsboro could host relocating Oakland A’s; MLB to Portland? Not likely, says mayor; Could A’s end up in Candlestick? Here are some unrealistic scenarios; Giants’ Baer: We’d share AT&T Park with Athletics; Appeals court puts San Jose antitrust lawsuit on fast track; Judge: San Jose has no right to the A’s; Selig: We’ll solve Oakland ballpark issue before I leave office; Selig: Oakland Coliseum a pit, but it’s our pit; Legal settlement could pave way for new Oakland ballpark; San Jose suit against MLB a weak one, saye experts; San Jose files suit against MLB in quest for A’s; Selig to San Jose Mayor: Sorry, no time to meet; Progress on new A’s ballpark? Not likely; Athletics propose five-year lease for Coliseum; What drives Lew Wolff?


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