This week the Raiders released a seating map for their 2013 season. The startling revelation from this release is that the Mount Davis upper deck seats have been completely eliminated, as have the outer sections of the original third deck.
A look at 2012 attendance sheds some light on what the Raiders’ motivation may be. While the first two home games were considered sellouts (for blackout purposes, not complete sellouts), attendance dropped off quickly as an unappealing group of non-division opponents accompanied a six-game slide into irrelevance. Whatever goodwill was earned during the “Oakland Loves Its Sports Teams” rally was squandered by Thanksgiving, with many fans already looking forward to 2013 when the team was forgotten locally as the 49ers continued their surge into the playoffs.
The stated football capacity of the Coliseum 63,132 64,200 according to the Raiders, already the second (or fifth) smallest stadium in the NFL. If Mt. Davis and the ends of the original upper deck are removed, the new capacity should will be 51,000 53,250, with Mt. Davis accounting for some 10,000 seats by itself. While this would increase the team’s chances of hitting every game’s blackout target, if the NFL approves this change it’s tantamount to admitting that those seats are unsellable, at least while the team remains mediocre. CSN’s Paul Gutierrez notes that there was only one home blackout in 2012 because of the Raiders’ use of the 85% rule, so blackouts may not the issue. Instead, the Raiders may be eschewing the 85% plan altogether, because it somewhat disincentivizes sales above the 85% mark of regular, non-club seats. Per the CBA, revenue from marginal sales above the 85% mark had to be split evenly between the Raiders and the visiting team. If the Raiders presell a ton of the best seats to Raider fans and not invading fans, they might be able to boost the home crowd feel even as fewer seats are available. That was certainly the case for the A’s at the end of the 2012 season and in the postseason.
HNTB, the firm that architected the Coliseum renovation in 1995, was commissioned by the Chargers to examine deficiencies at Qualcomm Stadium compared to other newer stadia. Interestingly, the study included the Coliseum, even though the Coliseum is less than half new. Included in the study was a measurement of the highest, farthest seat at the 50-yard line for each stadium. That seat on Mt. Davis is 336 feet from the 50, the farthest of the 10 venues in the comparison. While the same seat on the opposite side of the field was not measured, given what is known about the bowl that seat is probably 100 feet closer.
If there’s a winner in this, it’s the LA firm that Lew Wolff contracts to remove and replace the A’s tarps every season. Looks like they’ll be getting a new customer right quick. Fans also get very inexpensive seats in the process. Wolff himself is probably feeling rather victorious today. Losers? 11th hour or walkup ticket buyers. There will be a much smaller inventory for the secondary market, which in recent years had tickets on Mt. Davis for less than $10 on StubHub.
Raider fan, what do you think about this? Good/bad move? An admission that the team will be terrible? Sound off below.