Oakland’s Poor Working Conditions

We’ve Lew Wolff and Steve Schott grouse about the age and condition of the Coliseum. The Furcal chase, however, may be the first time we’ve heard about someone actually complain about it. Ken Rosenthal wrote last night:

Upon learning that free-agent shortstop Rafael Furcal was deciding between the Dodgers and Braves, one prominent agent expressed sympathy for A’s general manager Billy Beane and assistant GM David Forst, saying that they face an uphill fight trying to attract free agents to Oakland.

Furcal ended up choosing the Dodgers on Wednesday.

The A’s rarely are major players in free agency, but the agent said that the poor working conditions and occasionally unruly crowd behavior at McAfee Coliseum are turnoffs for his clients.

“Many players are uncertain about the atmosphere,” the agent said. “They’re not as comfortable going to work there or having their families attend games there on a regular basis.”

In 2012, the A’s are scheduled to move into Cisco Field, which will be located approximately 20 miles south of McAfee in Fremont, Calif.

“That will help them recruit players,” the agent said. “Billy and David are as good as anyone in the business. The new park will level the playing field for them and allow them to excel.”

It’s terribly unfair that one or two incidents many years back, and perhaps Raider fans’ reputations, have given the Coliseum a bad rep. Of course, it could be said that when free agents tour the area, they might go through a sequence of events that doesn’t really help matters:

  • Fly into SFO or OAK
  • Check into either Parc 55, Sir Francis Drake, or Four Seasons
  • Have dinner/entertainment in SF
  • Next morning, drive to Oakland
  • Take tour of Coliseum
  • Have lunch either on site or in downtown/JLS
  • Head east to Danville/Blackhawk to look at homes
  • Meet other players who live there if possible
  • Wrap up

The only items that don’t match the others are the “drive to Oakland” and “tour of Coliseum.” When everything else looks pretty good by comparison, it’s easy for those two to look not-so-good. It’s probably less of a problem for young players. We’ve known of a few young players who’ve taken BART daily to the Coliseum. When you’re a 32-year-old, injury prone player with a family looking for your last contract, it’s a different story.

To be fair, Citizens Bank Park (and previously the Vet) is in the middle of a parking lot in South Philly. The Phils don’t have trouble attracting free agents.

In the end, it’s one more issue that Lew Wolff and Bud Selig can use as rationale for moving.

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