In the time the A’s have been searching for a new ballpark, I’ve gone through high school, college, worked, went back to school, finished that, worked more, got married and had 3 kids. Also in that time, the list of significant improvements to the Coliseum starts and ends with new scoreboards. On one hand, it’s hard to blame the A’s, tenants in a house they don’t want, for not improving that building. However, if you’re never going to get a new house you might want to at least fix up what you have.
And in this vein, the current iteration (circa 2016 offseason) of the long stadium saga saw the A’s launch their #RootedInOakland campaign. The campaign was more a change in attitude than anything else: Rather than bash the flawed, yet beloved Coliseum (and Oakland itself), the team decided to embrace it. And thus, relatively minimal improvements like food trucks, a plaza lined with artificial turf, an improved kids zone, a rebranding of the West Side Club, and similar efforts came to be seen as significant. The improvements themselves were marginal, but the motivation behind them, i.e. that the team was going to start to treat its fans and its environs with some modicum of pride, was meaningful.
Today, that campaign took a significant step forward with the announcement of the Treehouse “complex” in left field. I’m calling it a complex because it’s really three spaces in one: A 10,000 square foot indoor bar, patio deck, and outdoor terraced bar and lounge where the left field bleachers used to be. Redwood features prominently in the design (no doubt purchased from Ashby Lumber, proud sponsor of the Oakland A’s).
Damn, this looks good. Maybe not new stadium renderings good, but safe to say I’ll be spending a few sunny days out in left. When you enter the stadium from the BART bridge you will basically walk right into the redwood deck, you can traipse through the treehouse and settle in at one of the rails with your friends and watch a couple innings. It makes a perfect meeting spot for your crew, and really helps bring the Coliseum at least slightly towards the world of modern sports venues. In a way, it will also be a sneak preview into the A’s design aesthetics for a new stadium (although acknowledging that they are working with the extreme limitations of the Coliseum space).
The best thing is that it will be fully open to anyone in the stadium, 1000 capacity (which means you can get in pretty much any game, let’s be real). Given that, there’s vast potential for use of the space. The A’s have already announced some pre-game and post-game radio and TV shows will be hosted there, and DJs will be spinnin’ on Friday nights. But beyond that, the potential for the heritage nights and other group events is endless. Currently, the only real group spaces are luxury boxes.
Although announcing the “Treehouse” does open things up to push back from die-hards who are justifiably proud of our “no coke bottle slide” atmosphere, in my view, a place to hang and watch the game is a good thing. And for the LF bleacher regulars, It looks like there will still be bleacher seats below the bar.
While this offseason has been nothing short of extreme disappointment on the stadium front, the fact that the Coliseum is getting a little TLC helps ease the pain. This year, like every year we’ve known as A’s fans, the Coliseum is our stadium now, and for the indefinite future, and with that in mind, I’m happy it’s getting a little love in time for the 2018 season.