Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Pop Rocks and Coca-Cola

On Friday I attended the Athletics Opening Night game against the Seattle Mariners and I wasn’t the only one from San Jose who made the trek North. I ran into San Jose Councilmember's Sam Liccardo and Ash Kalra and Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone who posed for a picture with me. Also in attendance were San Jose Silicon Valley
Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Pat Dando and our very own Baseball San Jose Co-Chair Michael Mulcahy. It was a festive night full of excitement for the beginning of the 2011
season and perhaps a glimpse at what could be San
Jose's own Opening Day (keep fingers crossed).

For some though the looming threat of the Athletics leaving Oakland for San Jose brought fear and loathing. A contingent of fans organized by Let’s Go Oakland gathered in Parking Lot A in an effort, as Angela Woodall of the Oakland Tribute wrote, “to convince Athletics co-owner Lew Wolff that a move to San Jose would be a mistake.” No doubt fans got the message to arrive in mass to support keeping the team in Oakland; Parking Lot A was the fullest I’ve ever seen it. The nights attendance of 36,067 (103% of capacity) is a testament to their efforts.

This got me to thinking, perhaps I’ve been misguided in my assertion that Oakland doesn’t have a sustainable fanbase to support the Athletics in their current locale. Surely the throngs of fans who attended Friday’s game have gotten the message that an Athletics move isn’t just baseless banter intended to stir their emotions in an effort to sell more Hideki Matsui

jerseys, as it was the team was planning on giving those away for free during Sunday’s game. Could it be that after a year of finishing second to last in attendance the team might finally be able to approach the promised land and surpass the Pittsburgh Pirates and take their place as the 27th most attended team in Major League Baseball? Perhaps, as according to David Simmons writing for The Biz of Baseball the team could see a 10% increase in attendance.

Ah, but alas, fast-forward to Saturday and it seems the allure of Opening Day had faded. Attendance: 15,088 (43% of capacity). As for Sunday, it seems even a free Hideki Matsui jersey and glorious weather couldn't help to sustain Opening Day’s numbers. Attendance: 22,292 (64% of capacity). Opening Weekend totals: 24,482.

There is no doubt that emotions run high in Oakland for the team staying, the parking lot full of fans is a testament to this. However, being able to sustain an active fanbase fully committed to attending 81 home games a year seems like a stretch. Will a new stadium help increase attendance? Sure, but the City of Oakland let down fans by not taking the initiative seriously when the ball

was in play back in 2005. Only after plans in Fremont fell through and San Jose became a serious player did Oakland take finding a viable stadium location seriously and in doing so have haphazardly stirred the emotions of unwitting fans hopeful that an Opening Day soiree will be the saving grace to keeping the team in town. It seems however, that much like a bag of Pop Rocks doused with Coca-Cola, the initial rousing has fizzled.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for commenting, your post will appear as soon as it is approved.