In all honesty, had we planned this trip differently, we would have chosen to visit The Coliseum first. Nearly all criticisms of this place are true, but the lack of features and flashy substance give incredible props to the fans and staff of the Athletics and of course the Raiders (football). It’s old and not renovated, but it didn’t stop us from walking nearly every inch of the historic building.
Championship Plaza: Luckily for the Athletics, their team has won quite a few championships. So one of the ways the marketing and stadium operations teams have chosen to show their accomplishments is actually on the exterior of their stadium. I thought this was cool because to me it didn’t seem like there was going to be too much to see or do inside of the ballpark anyways. Championship Plaza is a partially turfed area between the Coliseum and Oracle Arena. Between the Raiders, Athletics and the Warriors, the city of Oakland can celebrate 17 total sports championships (9 of which have been won by the A’s). This area wasn’t very fancy but it was a nice place for fans to gather pre-game for food, beer and to chit-chat. Nice area to start before heading into the game.
The Food Trucks: Once again, props to the stadium operations and marketing crew of the A’s for trying to execute ways to bring fans to the games when your team is at the bottom of the league and your stadium is basically just a mound of concrete. So they brought in food trucks for every game to sit in Championship Plaza so that fans have a place to get relatively inexpensive food while supporting local businesses (plus it seems that the west coast has a minor obsession with Food Trucks). The food trucks on Championship Plaza included Mario’s French Dips, Rita’s of Hayward, Big City Country Bay, Southern Comfort Kitchen, Adorubowl, and Stuff My Waffle. Chad and I decided to splurge on a Waffle Chicken Club and Waffle Burger. Creative in design and bursting with flavor. Nom, nom, nom!
Pre-Game Conversation: It’s true, I am a proud Seattle Mariners fan and I (JT) have decided to wear my teal Mariners jersey to every single game. This draws attention with joking jabs, high fives, and random conversation. Today was a random conversation from a couple sitting at our picnic table in the Championship Plaza. First, the gentleman started by asking questions about the Mariners (he was wearing a Mariners hat and a Giants jacket) and we started shooting the breeze about random facts and statistics about this year’s trade deadline. Of course, since we were wearing our Mariners jerseys he asked if we were from Seattle and we said yes which then segwayed into our trip. It’s always fun to talk about what Chad and I are doing, not because we like to brag about it, but because people will always give us advice, insight and tell us anecdotes about their experiences at different ballparks. These people were from DC (interestingly enough) and gave us some advice about Nationals Park. It was a really nice conversation and got me excited to meet even more folks that will be likely to share with us as well.
Concrete Desert: Ok so now we’re in the stadium finally. I’m typically the type of person that tries and looks for the positive in people and things, but I have to say it was hard with this one. Everything was either bright yellow, dark green, or concrete grey and I just don’t see that being a flattering color combo in any capacity. Not just that, but the concessions had no special branding; each one was just like a tent with a brand sponsor and then food inside. Even better, when we got to the view level concourse, most concession stands were actually closed. I know I’m used to different type of business up at Safeco Field because even if only 15,000 fans make their way to the ballpark, nearly every concession stand will be open. The view level felt empty and lonely, even though half of the fans at the game were up there with us. I thought it was sad, but Chad brought up a good point in that why would management want to pay for product and labor if no one is there to buy it? Chad makes a good point but it still felt weird as a baseball fan to see things so deserted.
I Got a Beer: I love beer as much as the next guy but seriously, I cannot justify paying $10 for a Bud Light at a baseball game (I mean I’ve done it before but that was when I was employed and living with my parents). Prices for food and drink were definitely lower in Oakland than they were at the stadium across the bay, but one thing the A’s do (again, kudos to the marketing team and the sponsors) is the $4 Fourth. Basically, you can get a 12 oz Bud Light or Budweiser in the 4th inning for $4. Some concession stands even carry special A’s cans for the occasion that fans can drink and/or collect. Very cool and I got to enjoy a Bud Light at a baseball game. Yay me!
Remote Transaction: So Chad and I are collecting branded baseballs that we get at each stadium’s team shop. Collecting is a loose term considering we only currently have one from AT&T Park at this point but I digress. Anyways, we walked out of the stadium after the game and a solid Mariners win, and realized we hadn’t purchased a game ball yet. So we asked one of the game day staff where the entrance to the team store was on the outside of the stadium and she said there was only one but you cannot enter through it on game day. I still asked where it was and proceeded to walk toward the blocked off open door to the team shop.
I approached the associate from the outside of the blocked off open door and asked if I could come in to purchase something and he was very stern in denying my request since there was NO REENTRY. I’m a pretty snappy and sarcastic human being and really don’t like being told no, especially when I think the request is pretty simple so I had to reason with the guy. “Well I can see the ball I want, what if I gave you the money and you bought it for me?” The man laughed and said “Yeah, I guess I can make that work.” So we told him which ball we wanted and made the purchase from outside the store. A little unorthodox but I appreciate the guy working with me. Needless to say we’ll be making the purchase upon ENTRY of each stadium so we don’t forget.
Well, I will continue to commend the fans of the Oakland football and baseball teams for their commitment in supporting their teams because they, without a doubt, deserve better than this. Hopefully now that the Raiders are on their way out, the city of Oakland will look for a way to finance at least a MAJOR renovation of the Coliseum. It’s nice that we use the word “classic” to describe this run down facility but they do a good job with what they have. All in all, Mariners came back to win and we get to drive to Los Angeles to make it to the Angels game in 14 hours. Wish us luck!