34,179

That’s the new capacity of the Network Associates Coliseum now that the A’s have announced that the upper deck won’t be sold at all in 2006. Since the initial news came out that View season tickets weren’t for sale a few weeks ago, it wasn’t certain if the seats would be sold at all, or only for certain high-demand games. The former is definitely the case. In the accompanying press release, A’s President Michael Crowley even confirmed that it’s part of the trial balloon to understand and transform demand for A’s season, advance, and walk-up tickets:

“Our goal is to create a more intimate ballpark atmosphere and bring our seating capacity in line to what we have proposed for our new venue.”

The team also makes a claim that the decrease in capacity is being done to improve the fan experience, citing a survey that indicated views from the ironically named View level seats were among the worst in baseball. One observation I have to make is that the A’s failed to explain exactly how they were going to improve the fan experience on than the closing of the upper deck. They should have explained how access to concessions and restrooms should or will be improved, which it almost certainly will be. Otherwise it won’t appear as more than an experiment.

One thing should be explained about this move: the A’s probably won’t get higher revenues this season as a result. Say the A’s sold 10,000 View level seats per game against the Yanks/Red Sox/Giants and account for $10 per person in concessions revenue, the gross revenue for those 12 games would be $2.4 million. That’s not that much in the grand scheme of things. Lost revenue from View tickets sold at other games would be made up by selling tickets for Plaza level seats. While it appears from the outside that the A’s are just interested in selling a bunch of higher-priced seats, it’s more about getting that predictable demand curve in place with season tickets and advance sales. Diminished walk-up sales should no doubt contribute to a flatter curve.

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