Is the idea of the Athletics playing home games at AT&T Park until a new ballpark is ready such a crazy idea? Let’s explore it.
Following the 2013 season, the Athletics’ lease with the Oakland Coliseum expires. It’s been pretty well chronicled that the current A’s ownership wants to build a new ballpark in San Jose. Conversely, the City of Oakland wants to build Coliseum City on the site of the current Coliseum with or without the A’s. Whether the A’s end up in San Jose or Coliseum City, they have two options following the 2013 season: renew the lease at the Oakland Coliseum or play elsewhere until their new ballpark is ready.
Naturally, renewing the Oakland Coliseum lease is the easiest and most likely scenario. However, beyond convenience, why would the Athletics or Major League Baseball want to renew the Coliseum lease? The A’s low revenue at the Coliseum has been well documented. This situation may get even worse as the team grows increasingly less committed to their Easy Bay fans. If the A’s receive permission to build a new ballpark in San Jose, it could be an ugly couple years at the Coliseum with a palpable bitterness in the air. With a new era for the team on the horizon, it could be damaging to the Athletics brand name as the attempt building momentum as the arrive at their new home. On one hand, renewing the Oakland Coliseum lease would be convenient but on the other hand, why would any business choose to continue in a losing situation when there is another option, likely better, available.
While the Oakland Coliseum will still be a MLB-ready facility after 2013, it’s not the A’s only option in the area. AT&T Park is a stone’s throw from the Coliseum. Setting aside any feelings A’s fans may have about the Giants, a majority of baseball fans enjoy taking in ball games there. In either case, AT&T Park provides an improved fan experience over the Oakland Coliseum almost any which way you dice it. A better fan experience generally means more people show up, buy more things, come back again—you get the idea. Given the A’s recent attendance struggles, would playing a few seasons at AT&T Park make things any worse? Comment below if you think so, because I can’t see how it does.
Granted the A’s ownership is even interested in temporarily playing in San Francisco, the Giants have been vocal about their disinterest in sharing AT&T Park with the A’s. Giants’ CEO, Larry Baer has stated multiple times that the A’s would not be welcome to share AT&T Park with the Giants. Former Giants’ MGP, Peter Magowan has gone so far as the say the A’s aren’t even welcome at Candlestick Park. Now that’s some cold shit, but whatever. It’s besides the point. If there’s something in it for the Giants, like let’s say something that begins with "money" and ends with "=)" would the Giants still say no? Why would anyone turn away easy money, especially when you have large contracts, ballpark mortgage and Marvin Benard "Wall of Fame" plaques to pay for? (Yes, they gave a plaque Marvin Benard.) Further, if the A’s were to shack up with the Giants, at that hypothetical juncture the A’s would already be granted San Jose or they’d be committed to Coliseum City. In either case, the immediate conflict between the two teams would be settled by this point.
When the rubber hits the road, money does the talking. Is there a scenario where the Giants and A’s are both satisfied with the benefits of sharing AT&T Park? Probably. Why not? The A’s almost have nothing to lose by playing there. Even if the Giants charge astronomical rent, the A’s would still be providing a better fan experience than if they renewed at the Coliseum. It could be a worthwhile investment towards attracting some much needed casual fans despite absorbing an immediate loss. While the process of sharing a facility is complicated situation with advertisements, corporate sponsorship, concession/alcohol pouring, etc. revenue, considering the benefits to both teams, they’re issues that could be easily overcome.
There is no chance a new MLB-ready facility will be ready for the 2014 season. The A’s options are limited. Giants may welcome the easy money despite their current unwillingness to share. I can’t imaging MLB preferring the A’s renew their lease at the Oakland Coliseum considering it’s only for a few more seasons. Even if it’s only in the short-term, why face more financial loss when you don’t have to?
Here's a song that doesn't have much to do with anything discussed above, but there's a baseball episode of Perfect Strangers transcribed here with pictures!
UPDATE: A's imagery already featured in AT&T Park's visiting clubhouse.