Earthquakes to play at AT&T Park in March

Here’s a curious nugget: the San Jose Earthquakes have changed the date and venue of their March 18 home game against the hated Houston Dynamo to March 17 (St. Patrick’s Day) at AT&T Park. The match will be the undercard of a tuneup match between the Mexico and Senegal under-23 (Olympic) national teams. Previously the Quakes had doubleheader arrangement when Mexico and Iceland played at the Coliseum in 2008. Presumably the Quakes have the first game so that there won’t be the lingering image of Mexican fans leaving the stadium during the MLS match. That day pulled in 45,000 in attendance, over four times the capacity of Buck Shaw Stadium.

In the somewhat distant past such a game would be held at the Coliseum, but it’ll be played across the bay instead. Considering the Giants and A’s generally do nothing together other than appear at the compulsory media day before the baseball season begins, it’s a move out of nowhere. AT&T Park doesn’t have 45,000 seats and at least a thousand or more have terrible sightlines for soccer (LF corner upper deck), so it’s not as if they’ll outsell a game in Oakland. However, the tickets could be priced higher and find a very willing audience at a nicer venue. I don’t know what the revenue split is for a date like this with so many stakeholders, but I figure the Giants should be able to clear $200,000 just for hosting if they get $5 a ticket, plus probably all of the concessions revenue. With two weeks between the event and the Bay Bridge Series, that’s plenty of time to get the field in good condition.

According to the Stanford University sports calendar, there are no events that could conflict with the staging of a game at Stanford Stadium. The Stanford women’s basketball team is a powerhouse as usual, so they can be expected to host the first and second round of the women’s NCAA tournament at Maples Pavilion that weekend. The Quakes are playing a match against the L.A. Galaxy at Stanford on June 30, and I’ll be sure to attend then. Why not have the Dynamo/Mexico-Senegal event at Stanford? Maybe the NCAA tournament rules. Maybe the university and City of Palo Alto didn’t want an overly rowdy St. Paddy’s day crowd.

Does this event mean a thawing in the relationship between A’s ownership and Giants ownership? Hard to say. The ballpark business unit of the Giants could say it’s working independently from the team and in conjunction with the Quakes, who are also an autonomous unit within the Wolff/Fisher group. It’s been over 20 years since the last trade between the A’s and Giants (Darren Lewis for Ernest Riles, not counting the Adam Pettyjohn “deal”). At the very least it’s a sign that the two ownership groups can work together on something business-related. That can’t be a bad thing.

(Hat tip to Dan for pointing out the scheduling change.)

7 thoughts on “Earthquakes to play at AT&T Park in March

  1. As I mentioned earlier, not only is it a curious development in and of itself (the working with the Giants), but it’s also curious that the A’s/Quakes organization would not only be working with the Giants, but with AT&T Park and AT&T who are a large sponsor of the Mexican national team and current landowner roadblock to the San Jose ballpark site as well. This sudden desire to work with not one, but two “enemies” is something that can’t just be coincidental given everything else we’ve been hearing in the last few weeks… can it?

  2. In my ideal here, the A’s and Giants settle this mess, the Giants drop their lawsuit and the A’s agree to play 2 years at ATT Park until Cisco Field opens in San Jose. The Earthquakes thing would be just a throw-in detail.

  3. I don’t think I would read that much into this. I am sure AT&T had a lot to do with putting this together. AT&T is a big sponsor of Major League Soccer. They are also a sponsor of the Mexican National Soccer Team in the United States through SUM (Soccer United Marketing), which is the marketing arm of Major League Soccer.

  4. @Chris,
    I’m not entirely sure, but I don’t think the actual company of AT&T had anything to do with this. Remember, they inherited the park name through their acquisition of SBC, and their previous acquisition of PacBell. Other than the name itself, I don’t think they have anything to do with operations, events at the ballpark.

  5. Not that it matters for this discussion, but SBC is the real survivor here. The Texas phone company bought their less successful sister Pac Bell first, then bought AT&T, the long-distance company that had fallen on hard times. It took the AT&T name since it instantly made them sound global, but still keeps its headquarters in Dallas rather than New York.

  6. Tony, just a point of fact since it’s tied to bay area history, SBC was not acquired by AT&T. Rather SBC acquired both Pacific Bell and the old 20th century AT&T. Once that was done SBC simply renamed themselves at&t. The at&t that exists today is really nothing more than SBC with a new name and the AT&T most of us grew up is nothing but a wholly owned subsidiary of at&t (SBC).

  7. @BC and Dan,
    Thanks for the correction/history. I never knew it was SBC acquiring AT&T until now. Anyhow, don’t believe the company dictates events at phone booth park.

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