Oakland Fan Pledge is a fan-based initiative, started in late April, developed to show Major League Baseball, A’s ownership, and Oakland city officials that local fans will support a new ballpark in Oakland by pledging their dollars to buy tickets. Visit www.oaklandfanpledge.com to learn more.
When we were developing Oakland Fan Pledge, we looked at what pieces were still missing from the landscape of many active “Keep the A’s in Oakland” groups. To figure that out, we delved into some tough questions. Ever since the A’s current ownership has threatened to abandon Oakland, there has been plenty of rhetoric among the fanbase along the lines of, “If the ownership commits to Oakland, fans will jump in there and support the team, buy tickets and everyone will live happily ever after.” As fans of the A’s and Oakland, we too have believed that, but why? The A’s are playing like a team poised to make a run to the playoffs, yet attendance is currently in the bottom half of MLB teams. What is holding this “shadow fanbase” back from packing the Coliseum the way Giants fans fill AT&T Park?
We believe there are two key reasons. The first is the most obvious one: the Coliseum, despite the history and great times we have all experienced there, is not an adequate baseball stadium. In fact, with the sewage issue we saw Sunday, it may not even be suitable for playing in. If you are reading this, then you are likely a rabid fan, and the luxuries of a modern stadium may mean less to you than the more casual fan. But deep down most A’s fans know that our 50 year-old temple to the A’s no longer cuts it. The A’s attract fans to watch them play despite where they play, as opposed to teams with newer facilities and fan amenities that draw well in large part because of their new stadiums.
The second reason is more difficult to define or quantify. A huge issue impacting fans is the systematic disregarding of the fanbase in Oakland that has occurred during the reign of the current ownership. In the responses we have received through pledges at our website over the past six weeks, a common theme is that ownership and the plan to move to San Jose has actively caused people to stay away. Fans have directly said they previously were season ticket holders, but decided not to renew when the owners made clear they were no longer interested in keeping the A’s in Oakland. To put a statistic behind this, of the over 4,000 Ticket Plan Seat pledges we have received so far, 2/3 are currently not season ticket holders. That is a huge percentage and these are people that have money that they want to spend on A’s season tickets, but aren’t, largely because they don’t see ownership caring about current fans. They see ownership caring about the future fans, and corporate interests, in the South Bay. This too is a prickly subject because some will argue that as long as the A’s are in the Bay Area, it doesn’t really matter. From what the fans have told us, nothing could be further from the truth. The physical distance, tangible detachment from the city they love, and sense of abandonment are all regularly cited as reasons why the move to San Jose will cause them to either severely limit their attendance, stop attending games in person, or stop following the A’s altogether. Those are some serious consequences, but as we know, Oakland A’s fans are a seriously passionate bunch.
As the two of us were talking about why we thought Oakland Fan Pledge was a great idea, it was never a matter of if it would succeed, but when. We know that if we can reach the full extent of the Oakland A’s fanbase, and they can show the ownership and MLB what the A’s remaining in Oakland means to them, that united voice will not be able to be ignored any longer. We need your help to make this happen. Visit our site, see what you can afford to pledge, make that commitment and then tell everyone you know to do the same.
John Jackson & John Hansen
Founders, Oakland Fan Pledge