The regular season is rapidly approaching, and with the obvious opportunities for a blockbuster trade past, it looks like the A’s will most likely be in rebuilding mode for 2017 (though as I’ll discuss below, they could surprise us). We’ve been spoiled as a fanbase to the point that many are cringing at the possibility of a third consecutive losing season – I would recommend you avoid Facebook if you value your sanity. However, I see this as the perfect opportunity to do the most A’s thing possible and extract maximum value from a highly discounted team. You wanted a reason to care about this team and go watch them in person this season? I'll give you eight.
The premise for this article was inspired by this excellent post over on our sister Cubs blog, Bleed Cubbie Blue. However, lacking the highly accurate ticket data from that post, I'm going off book a bit here and doing this more informally.
1. Tickets are really cheap – and some good season ticket packages are still available
The A's have consistently been one of the cheapest MLB teams to see in person - one of the few benefits of the concrete tomb we call home. Based on this data from last year, we had the 8th cheapest average ticket price overall, and there's reason to believe things will get even cheaper in the immediate future. The Braves are opening their new stadium, Texas has made it to the playoffs multiple years in a row, and the Rockies actually look like a strong team for the first time in a decade. Between those developments and the A's rebuilding, it's not unreasonable to think that the A's could be one of the five cheapest MLB teams in terms of ticket prices while also being in one of the most expensive metropolitan areas in the US (world?). That's good value!
If you want to extract even more value, purchasing in bulk is always a good bet. Season ticket prices for all 81 home games range from $984 (in the bleachers/value deck — just a little over $10 per ticket!) up to $3,772 (MVP seats right behind home plate). For 81 games, that is absolutely incredible value, especially when you look at the ticket prices from the Cubs blog I linked above, or over on the Giants website. Some of the smaller ticket plans are already sold out (there are no more bleacher seats available for the Pick 'Em package), but there are still some amazing deals like seeing every weeknight game of the season for $312 or every weekend game for $528.
2. If season tickets aren't your thing, here are some high value homestands with good giveaways
Obviously not everybody wants to purchase a package of tickets, so here are a few home series that jump out to me as having exceedingly good value.
April 21-23 vs. the Seattle Mariners: Not only is this series cheap (only $16-17 for bleacher seats per game), but there is a giveaway for all three games: pet calendar on Friday, Warriors/A's crossover shirt Saturday, and super-sexy Khris Davis striped socks on Sunday. Yee-haw.
May 6-7 vs. the Detroit Tigers: Just a couple weeks later we get another weekend packed with giveaways. You can use the counter on your Bob Melvin bobblehead to track our win over the Tigers on Saturday, and then use your Sean Manaea LED watch to know the exact moment we crush our nemeses on Sunday.
May 18-21 vs. the Boston Red Sox: You'll get a fireworks night and a Sharks/A's beanie this weekend, but the main reason I'm highlighting it is just for the prices — $22-24 for bleacher seats at a series that always gets really loud and rowdy (but hopefully not rout-y like our dismal series against Boston last year).
July 15-16 vs. the Cleveland Indians: Once again, not only are tickets cheap (bleacher seats starting at $18) despite us playing against the defending World Series runner-ups, but you can score a Rickey Henderson jersey on Saturday and a backpack on Sunday.
3. The hot young prospects come up when tickets get cheaper
If this site can be trusted, baseball tickets are cheaper the further you get into a season. I'm guessing this is doubly true for a team like the A's that generally is not perceived to be in the running. This works out in our favors as fans, though - while the first couple months of the season will be packed with Jed Lowries and Yonder Alonsos and whatnot, tickets will start to get cheaper right when we start seeing top prospects like Franklin Barreto and Matt Chapman getting their first taste of the bigs.
So basically, tickets will be at their most expensive (meaning, still pretty darn cheap) during the least exciting part of the season, and will be at their cheapest (meaning, legitimately insanely cheap) during the part where we can get really excited about our team's future. You'll get to see our top prospects in A's games for basically the same price that fans in Nashville are paying to see them while they're still in AAA.
4. Shibe Park Tavern
In a season largely geared towards the future, the A's are doing some cool renovations that honor the team's past. Dave Kaval has made a whirlwind of changes since taking over as Team President just a few months back, but one of the most tantalizing to me personally is the renovation of the West Side Club into Shibe Park Tavern in honor of the team's roots in Philadelphia. The newly remodeled space will be open to ALL ticketed fans and will feature 24 beers on tap including many from local breweries (I have my fingers crossed for offerings from Henhouse or Fieldwork). For beer people, this is a night and day contrast to the limited options we had before. Beer at baseball games will always be expensive, but at least now it will be really good, too. And you can check out some cool tchotchkes (including original bricks) from Philadelphia while sampling the new offerings!
5. Legitimately great food options
Dave Kaval also has plans for food trucks to become a regular offering for home games. The article mentions 8 to 16 trucks per game, depending on whether it's a weeknight or weekend. I was actually kind of shocked when I read those numbers — 16 trucks is as many as even the largest Off the Grid events, so that's a pretty big deal. The food trucks are exactly what the Coliseum needed: They dramatically improve both the quality and variety of food offerings, they are an important part of local culture, and they're something that consistently came up in AN threads about improvements we'd like to see for a future ballpark.
It isn't just food trucks, either. Kaval has promised freshly baked hot dog buns from local bakeries, and renovations have been done that will allow more food to be cooked at the point of sale, rather than being prepared in a central kitchen ahead of time and then brought out as needed. So that's a bigger variety of fresher food made by local businesses, rather than Aramark. Finally, the Coliseum can begin to represent the incredible food culture that defines the rest of Oakland.
6. (Hopefully) Just a few years of the Coliseum left!
This is a touchy subject and is mostly personal opinion, but it seems like the general consensus is that the fanbase is really, really hoping for the A's new stadium to be at either the Howard Terminal or Laney College locations, rather than a new facility at the current Coliseum site. Assuming Kaval can make it happen and we get a new stadium closer to downtown, we're in the twilight years of the Oakland Coliseum. Might as well take one more opportunity to take in the views of historic Mt. Davis before we get some fancy new digs.
I love this video as a time capsule, but at the same time I'd be happy to never see that concrete monstrosity again.
7. This squad could actually be pretty good...
Maybe not playoffs good - pretty much everything would have to break right for that to happen (though it is possible!). But a .500 team is absolutely not out of the question, as any number of articles on this website have pointed out. There could be a little bit of that 2012 spark in this team, and I think there's a good chance we'll get a season worth of watchable baseball - maybe we'll even still be in the hunt past mid-May, unlike the last couple of years! It's the little things.
8. ...And if they're not, we're ready for it (unlike 2015)
And if everything doesn't break right and this ends up being a true rebuilding year instead of a magical 2012 run, that's okay, because we're ready for it. This isn't 2015, when we were actually projected to be a pretty respectable team going into the season before the bullpen dumped gas on our hopes and dreams, laughing maniacally as it lit a match. This isn't 2016, where every single human being ever to reside in the city of Oakland ended up on the disabled list multiple times and Eric Surkamp made 8 starts per week. This is a new season with new hopes, tempered by realistic expectations. This is the year where we take stock - of our prospects, of which players we might want to sign to long-term contracts, of where our favorite team might end up playing for the next few decades. There are a lot of good things to be decided this season, and even if the on-the-field product isn't amazing, at least we know we're building toward something bigger.
So that's my spiel. Go see some A's games in person. It'll be cheap and there'll be good food and beer and the team might not suck and even if it does that's OK.