There is a familiar pattern for any MLB team pursuing a new ballpark: to make the argument for new, you need to trash the old as being inadequate, leading to attendance woes before the public rallies. But things are bad at the Oakland Coliseum, with the Oakland A’s raising issues with cat feces, cobwebs and broken seats.
The formula is true of all new-ballpark campaigns. The Metrodome sucks: behold the potential wonders of Target Field. Joe Robbie Stadium wasn’t even built for baseball. Turner Field is generating zero in associated development: We need a new economic generator build around a new ballpark.
But when you trash your existing home, fans are going to catch on and decide they’re not going to pay MLB prices to see baseball in an inferior venue, no matter how hard you work to create an inviting fan experience. (See Tropicana Field for a prime example.) It’s a balancing act. Now, admittedly, the Oakland A’s are pretty up front about the many deficiencies of the Coliseum. And Oakland/Alameda County officials are pretty up front about the many deficiencies of the Coliseum. There are plenty of things wrong with it, ranging from waste-management issues relating back to backed-up sewers in clubhouses to a concessionaire’s nightmare resulting in a reliance of food trucks outside the ballpark.
In Oakland, it does appear that the Coliseum Authority has basically given up–to the point where the A’s are demanding some action. The way the A’s describe it, the place is barely habitable and the authority has stopped performing even basic maintenance, leading to some potentially unsafe work and fan conditions. From The Oaklandside:
Feces from feral cats, a moth infestation, mold, a nearby homeless encampment, broken seats, and plumbing and water leaks all made the checklist of problems Vice President of Stadium Operations David Rinetti sent to Coliseum Authority Executive Director Henry Gardner in a letter on May 12….
A’s fans on social media have been quick to point out the deficiencies on and off the field, from the cobwebs, broken seats, and problems at concession stands to the doubling of ticket prices, elimination of perks like A’s Access, and trading away marquee players under billionaire owner John Fisher.
Again, any team facing facilities issues and seeking a new ballpark will always dampen attendance by trashing the old venue. Numbers will, of course, rise when the new local ballpark is approved and teams can link future season tickets to the old place. In the meantime, no one wants to go to a game at a place featuring cat feces, cobwebs and broken seats.