This past weekend I made my final trip to the west coast taking in games at both bay ballparks and swinging up to Seattle. I was lucky enough to catch my Yankees in two of the games, but they struggled to put together wins at either park. While in San Francisco, I was able to stay with my friend Sohan, which saved me a lot of money on hotels (plus he was the best tour guide ever!). We took the BART out to Oakland Sunday morning since there is a stop right outside the stadium. I put $15 on a card since its pay per distance, not a single rate per ride. Make sure to check the rates at the website so you can accurately put money on the card. I ended up with $1.95 left on mine after the weekend was over.
The ride to O.co Coliseum was only 25 minutes from Sohan’s apartment and the cars filled up with Athletics fans as we neared the stadium. Once we exited the train, we walked down the single walkway to the park and were greeted by a barbed wire fence. Only in Oakland. The stadium itself is nothing majestic to look at, the outside façade is simply concrete. Al Davis didn’t get creative with its design either- no fancy patterns or designs. There are banners and flags around the park trying to add some Athletics life to the barren walls and ramps, but the attempt is in vain. While Sohan waited in the ticket line, I walked down the south ramp of the stadium and found a tailgate area for fans to enjoy. There was tailgating in the lots around the park as well, but not much activity was going on. I walked back to the ticket window and we purchased our tickets before walking up the north ramp and entering the park through Gate D.
As soon as we entered the park we ran into the A’s mascot, who is an elephant. I’m not sure why he’s an elephant, but since they’re one of my favorite animals I’ll let it slide. Even though batting practice was over, we were able to walk down to the field to look around the park. Not as bad as I thought it would be, but not great either. There is some old ballpark charm (or cheapness) with manually operated scoreboards along either outfield wall and they’ve tarped off the entire upper level of the park save one section behind home plate (value seats) to eliminate seats with a poor view of the game action. The green tarp also gives the stadium some color and team spirit with A’s logos, retired player’s numbers and World Series wins adorning it.
Before heading up for the anthem, we moved through the aisle that breaks up the lower level seating to watch C.C. Sabathia warm up by the visitor’s dugout. O.co Coliseum is another park without bullpens, so both team’s pitching staffs are along either foul line, though they have seating along the wall. Something that both Sohan and I noticed here was the lack of commercial advertising in the park and the amount of self-advertisement that was up. Guess when they’re not about to sweep the Yankees they have attendance problems.
Game time was nearing, so we walked up to the main concourse to find some standing room. There is no shortage of places to stand around the 100 level of the park and the view of the playing field is nice along either baseline. Only the area along home plate is blocked off, but the ushers are pretty lax about people peering around for play or two. We found a spot behind the Yankees dugout along the first baseline and were disappointed to find we could hear a thing from there.
Seriously no sound came from the speakers and you could only hear faint echoes from the field. The lack of technology didn’t stop there, in the corner of each section were little CRT TVs. Seriously? Even Wrigley has better technology! Can the A’s and/or Raiders not afford to spring for some flat screens? Guess not. Actually, if they’re going to update the park, they should get new scoreboards first (ask OSU for their old one!) since both are so tiny and outdated as well. Frustrated with the muted game experience during the Yankees first at bat, we headed through the concourse to check out the outfield.
The main concourse is narrow and a little dank, but jam packed with concessions and almost every beer under the sun. We even found an Irish pub near home plate called The Field. I was unaware of Oakland’s Irish roots, but the place is a nice change from the barren concrete and wasn’t crowded. Once we made it to left field the standing room tapered off as the concourse continued underneath the bleachers. I was expecting a kid’s zone or another ballpark gimmick to be in place, but instead the area was completely shut down and void of any such amusements.
After a quick walk, we ended up in right field and sat in the section next to the bleachers. The bleachers are where it’s at in this park. There was a group of diehards in front with banners, flags, and even some choreographed dance moves (the Bernie) when Brandon Inge was at the plate. They brought it the entire game and were fun to watch. We stayed in these seats for half the game enjoying the shade, ability to hear the announcer and music, and fan antics. Around the 6th we headed up to the 200 level to check out the upper level.
The way this ballpark (or football stadium) is set up is a little odd. There are stairs to each 200 level section from the main concourse, no ramps or another concourse level to break up the park. Determined that this stadium couldn’t have just one concourse, I continued up through the section and found there was another concourse above the 200 level seating.
Here there is the West Side Club, probably the most exciting feature of this ballpark. Located behind home plate is sit down restaurant and bar for fans to enjoy. Along either side are club and suite seats, but even those concourses are open to all fans. There is an area called Stomper Fun Zone with activities for the kiddies (or just the young at heart) here as well. Sohan grabbed a hot dog, which he rated as average before we headed back to the stands to check out the view from this level.
We found a couple of seats near the bottom to sit in along the third baseline while Sohan ate. I didn’t think the view of the game action was bad, though I did notice the stands slope wasn’t as steep as more modern parks. Right as Sohan finished his food, the original seat holders came back and we gladly went back to our seats in right field for the remainder of the game. The Yankees couldn’t close out the game and after a blown save and extra innings, the Athletics completed their sweep and the brooms were out. We headed back across the bay (didn’t take too long despite the crowds) and toured the city a bit before getting dinner at Southpaw BBQ.
For this trip, I spent $674 on my flights, $15 on BART card, $25 on my ticket, and $27 on food ($741 in all). I’m glad I got to see my team play (even though they got beat) or I wouldn’t see the value in visiting this ballpark. The A’s aren’t lying when they call it green collar baseball. I really hope they can get a new park approved soon, so I never have to come back!