Hey guys. I once read some line somewhere about judging people and it had something to do with judging yourself ... anyway, I don't remember the full quote, but now that I've reviewed the Phone Book and Safeco Field, I felt it would be fun to review the Coliseum while I'm at it.
I've been to the Coli 50 times, the first of which came on July 14, 2001, in a game we lost 5-3 to the Dodgers in 15 innings. (That game was just one of the three I've ever left early, and it was not by choice.) #50 was $2 Wednesday and the 6-2 win over the Mariners.
With all of the games I've been to, it's tough for me to come up with just one that typifies my experience in Oakland. I guess I'll go with the game on August 18, 2012 because it was one of my favorites games I've attended in recent years.
I went to this game with a close friend of mine who I've known since first grade (ten and a half years ago). We had wanted to go to the 2002 win streak ceremony ever since it was announced. We were probably going to get Plaza Infield seats like we normally do. Then we found some seats on StubHub that were only two-thirds of face value.
Are you kidding me? I couldn't believe when I found this deal. Excellent seats at a low price, and not just for some weeknight game. For the Moneyball reunion.
This was one of the coolest ceremonies I've ever seen. They did a great job in honoring the games and the players.
With an awesome finish.
The game itself was a fun one, in which we took a 4-0 lead in the third inning against Corey Kluber. That lead ballooned to 8-1, and the atmosphere became pretty relaxed.
I had the good fortune of sitting around a group of dedicated fans, and we all had a good time basking in the glow of those 20 games in 2002. Eventually, our discussion turned to what was happening out in left field. The out-of-town board quickly changed. An 8-0 slegnA lead was cut to 8-7 thanks to CJ Wilson and a potent Tampa Bay offense.
We ended up winning 8-5 after Scribbles and Blevins struggled, and Balfour had to come in to get the last out.
This game exemplified everything I love about the Coliseum and A's fans. Affordable, an exciting product on the field and dedicated fans in the seats. The one thing that rubbed me the wrong way that night was that I didn't do the movie viewing on the field after the game. We were uncertain if the movie would be over by midnight, and that's when BART closes for the night.
Without a blank perspective, it's tough for me to get an unbiased opinion on A's games. Luckily, I took a friend to Wednesday's game who had never been to one in Oakland. He's been picking up the A's lately out of hatred for that team in San Francisco.
We showed up at about 5:20 Wednesday, a bit earlier than we'd usually arrive for a weeknight game against a ho-hum opponent, but with the Warriors at home, showing up later would've made parking a mess. As transportation goes, it's pretty accessible. BART is a good deal if you're going solo or with one other person, and otherwise, parking at the stadium is a better deal. $17 for a stadium parking lot isn't such a bad deal. I'd say there aren't too many parking lots that allow for the tailgating experience you can get in Oakland.
He was impressed by the amount of tailgating. Once we got inside, he liked Dick Callahan's voice and the mural inside the entrance. He also liked our seats (section 230) because we could see the entirety of the field, and because of the prices.
(In regard to $2 Wednesdays and Plaza Outfield seating, I love the promotion. It's a great way to draw in fans on nights that would otherwise be pretty empty and appeal to fans that can't afford most games. As for Plaza Outfield seating, I don't normally sit out there aside from the Wednesdays. On the nights when they're priced around $10 I don't mind sitting out there.)
As for concessions, he thought the prices were a bit high, but not as dramatically high as they are at many other venues. He was thoroughly impressed by the cheese steaks, and he liked sitting at the West Side Club (Bar & Grille) and taking in a few other games on the TVs.
He loved watching what the fans in left and right field did for each player. Overall, he was impressed and wants to go back again.
Visual: 4/10 As a stadium itself, it's an eyesore. We all know that. But it's our eyesore. The views from most of the seats are just fine, though. I've never sat Plaza Reserved or in the Bleachers, but I've sat just about everywhere else and I can say that with the exception of a couple Plaza Outfield seats, you can see the entirety of the field. Even from those Plaza Outfield seats, the only thing you're missing is a bit of the LF or RF corner. We also have scoreboards.
Staff: 9/10 The staff is always friendly and helpful. At times, the concession workers can be a bit slow, or the staff can be a bit too lenient (not throwing out smokers, etc) but overall, they do a great job making sure you enjoy yourself.
Fans: 8.5/10 What we don't always have in quantity is certainly there in quantity. No matter what size the crowd is, it's noisy. The paid crowd slightly exceeded 15,000 on Wednesday, yet the place was roaring during every rally. There are a couple nincompoops who show up every now and then and act like idiots in front of everyone, but the crowds are usually well-behaved, and overall, fans are very good about showing up on time and staying until the end.
Concessions: 7.5/10 There's not a ton of variety here from your standard ballpark fare, save for the West Side Club (Bar & Grille). But that doesn't mean the food can't be good. I love the cheesesteaks at the stand behind section 117, and you can't go wrong with hot dogs, burgers, chicken strips, garlic fries, or any of the other standard food. There's just not much variety. Prices are pretty average for concessions.
Extras: 3/10 Those three points are for Kara, dot racing, the West Side Club and promos like Elvis impersonators on 50's Day. I can't rate any of the stuff like The Field because I'm underage and thus haven't been in there yet. Unfortunately, one of my favorite pregame activities is now gone. I would play on the Xboxes with friends before games, but now that 2K only makes their game for the PS3, that's all gone. I don't need all of the distractions during a ballgame, though. It doesn't bother me.
Overall: 6.4/10 + 1 bonus point for affordability = 7.4/10 Yes, I'm pretty biased here. As a stadium, no, it's not much. As a place to watch a baseball game at a reasonable price, it's great. As a place for other stuff, it really isn't. If I was a fan of an out-of-state team, would I still go to A's games? Yes. I probably wouldn't go as frequently, but I'd probably go 5-10 times a year. If I had no preference between Oakland and San Francisco, I'd certainly say San Francisco is the better of the ballparks but Oakland is far more affordable.
In conclusion, the Coliseum, as an empty shell, isn't much to be proud of. But with the prices, on-field product, fans and the atmosphere they create, it truly is a fun place for baseball. It's not going to appeal to the casual fan. There isn't anything else to do other than watch the game. But who needs that? It's perfect for someone like me.