I love the A's. They have been my team since day one. Walking the catwalk from BART is nostalgic for me. Having the coliseum only 15 minutes from my house is a dream. They are my Oakland A's. Unfortunately, they cannot stay in Oakland anymore. I denied this for a very long time, but it is time to let it go. For all of you who are still in denial like I was, then this is for you:
There is no money in Oakland, I'm not talking about the city, the government, the businesses. I am talking about the people. The people who buy these tickets and the fan base that is no longer there. Oakland is a middle class- lower middle class city, especially for California standards. That's just how it goes. People have limited money and don't want to spend it on baseball games. The reasons the Giants are so successful is partly due to their ballpark, but mostly due to the economic status of San Francisco. San Francisco and Marin County are much much richer than Oakland and Alameda County. The fans who go to Giants games are of a much wealthier class where luxuries of live sporting events are much more common for them. Also, SF is a small compact city with great public transportation. People can take BART, Muni, or bus to the game easily. A lot of people walk to and from the game because the stadium is close to a mile from the hub of the SF Financial district. This is the reason for their success. Easy quick access and money to spend.
This doesn't exist in Oakland. With the exception of BART there is no efficient public transportation to get people to the coliseum. The East Bay as a whole is far too expansive and we can also add in Contra Costa County which is even further. Thus it is difficult for people from all areas to get to the games.
The most important factor is money, which people don't have to spend. With the exception of Contra Costa county (which is the furthest from the Coliseum and has a large Giants fan base, see Giants store in Walnut Creek), the people who live in the East Bay don't have the financial ability to go to 20+ games a season and buy luxury boxes for 10 friends. It just doesn't exist. With a new stadium the ticket prices will be even higher making it even more difficult for East Bay fans.
I'll answer this comment before it's even asked: What about the Raiders and the Warriors? The Raiders play 8 home games, not 81. Fans are much more willing to spend the $60 they saved to go to one of the 8 Raider games instead of spending $15 a ticket on going to 4 A's games. The NFL is an extremely popular sport and the limited amount of home games make it that much more special for fans. You cannot compare the two sports.
As for the Warriors, not only do they only play 41 home games (see above), but the Oracle Arena only holds 19,596 people. If the A's stadium only held that many people we would sell out almost as much as the Warriors do. Their success and "sell outs" are because their fan base is big enough for their arena. This is the fan base that can afford and enjoys going to live games, many of the same people who go to the A's games. When all 20k of those Warriors fans show up to an A's game, it seems like the coliseum is empty and the complaints start rolling in.
If a new stadium were to be built in Oakland, I am sure that more East Bay businesses would become interested and there will be a little increase in revenue for the A's as it becomes a business social event. This still does not cover every seat, not even a majority of the seats. I am not going to deny that a beautiful new stadium wouldn't help get more fans in, especially in the first couple years, but eventually there would still be no sell outs and the social "fans" would stop going into deep Oakland to catch a ball game. People, new stadium or not, aren't going to figure out a way to get from work or home into a boring part of Oakland to watch a game. It is more effort than it's worth for them.
The solution is San Jose. Yes, it will be a bit farther away. Yes, it isn't Oakland, but at least it is still in the Bay Area. Everyone can still access it without much more burden for them. Everything the Giants did in their genius plan for a stadium is exactly what the A's want to do, and it will help them dramatically.
BART is planning on a San Jose extension, Cal Train is going to create more express trains. San Jose is going to be like the new SF. It is compact and there is a rail line and bus that goes throughout the South Bay, add in BART and more Cal Train and you made it just as accessible as AT&T park. There are already plenty of bars and restaurants and more is expected, so people will be in the stadium area before and after games, making the entire place lively. The stadium itself will be beautiful and modern and will draw interest for the social "fans" and the real fans. It will thrive.
Most importantly though, San Jose, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, the entire South Bay, has money. With the tech boom and the build up that's been happening in the last 20 years, that whole area has become very wealthy. Not just the multi billion dollar businesses, but the people as well. The people in the South Bay can afford to buy season tickets and go to games all the time. Especially when they can just hop on the metro line or walk from work. There is no inconvenience for them. It doesn't matter if they are social "fans" or hard core fans. They are going to show up because they can. There will also be a surplus of wealthy corporate sponsorship who can create better giveaways and more events to draw people in.
San Jose is the 3rd largest city in California with a population of 945,942. This is bigger than San Francisco and Oakland. Now add in the surrounding suburbs of the South Bay, all of which have access to the metro lines and the buses. Now there are more people than SF and Oakland combined. With a stadium in San Jose the A's will lose some fans, especially in the far areas of the North part of the East Bay, but the amount of new fans and people that will fill the seats will be ten folds those of which were lost.
In conclusion, I wish there was a way for them to stay in Oakland. I wish someone would just buy the A's and build a beautiful new ballpark in Oakland right now. Will that really help the issue though? What success will that new ballpark have 10 years later if Oakland and Alameda County stay the way they are or get worse?
I hope I'm wrong about San Jose and a new ballpark in Oakland is announced tomorrow. At the same time though, I hope I'm right, because I think it will be the best for the A's franchise. I don't mind having to drive or ride BART 45 more minutes if it means I get to see my A's in all their glory. A championship team with smiles on their faces and a crowd with hearts that bleed green and gold.