The Upper Deck: Once More With Feeling

While we’re waiting for some reports to be distributed, I’ll let you in on an exchange I had with A’s Senior Director of Ticket Operations, Steve Fanelli. gojohn10 had noticed that the All You Can Eat View Level Upper Reserved sections (316-318) are now being called the “Value Deck.” Tickets for these seats are called “Jumbo Tickets” and cost $12 for regular games, $15 for premium dates (Giants, Yankees, etc.).

Each Value Deck ticket will come with $6 of food or merchandise credit baked into the ticket’s barcode. If you have one of those tickets you can have your ticket scanned at one of the concession stands behind 316-318 or at a participating stand on the Plaza or Field concourse. Fanelli said that they’re working on a Value menu, containing items that cost less than $5. You’ll be able to use multiple ticket credits for a single purchase. I didn’t ask, but I assume that the value isn’t good for beer.

I wish this was offered in 2006, instead of tarping off the entire third deck. It combines a cheap ticket ($6) with guaranteed concessions revenue -or rather, a justification for keeping the concession stands on the upper concourse open. As it grows in popularity, more sections can be untarped so that more people can take advantage. Even though I bought a fielder’s choice plan in the bleachers for this year, I would seriously consider changing that seat to a value deck seat. Unfortunately, the A’s don’t offer a value deck season ticket plan (doh!).

I’ve never seen a proper breakdown of the A’s revenues per attendee, but they have to be among the lowest in the majors. It’s not just the ticket discounts like Double Play Wednesday. I don’t have any hard evidence of this, but I’ll put it out anyway: We hardcore fans don’t spend our money in the Coliseum. Who does? Casual fans. Not only are the concession stands much more full on the weekends when casual fans come out, they buy food and merchandise in greater quantities than we do. Given the A’s revenue woes, they should be exploring every avenue to bring more casual fans in – and this sounds like a good start since it works for both fan and team.

That’s not to say that hardcore fans should feel ashamed. I don’t. I’m much more likely to bring in a burrito and a 20-oz. soda in than I am to get a Big Dog and a souvenir cup. The team allows it, so I’m going to take advantage. I go with a large group about twice a year and we always do a nice tailgate and bring stuff in. Hardcore fans go often, so they don’t feel compelled to buy something everytime they enter the gates. We’ve tasted everything there already.

The Value Deck, as it stands with Sections 316-318, is only around 1200 seats. So even if it is incredibly successful, it’s not going to move the needle that much. Still, I like the concept as it takes some of the packaging done with ticket packs and makes it an everyday, individual seat purchase. As a marketing experiment, it’s not exclusionary as tarping and the AYCE tickets were. In fact, I believe in it enough that I’d like to buy 4 tickets for myself and 3 blog friends. I’d like to document the whole experience, from buying the tickets to entering the Coli to cashing in the $6 credit for the first time. Anyone interested? Drop me an e-mail and we can work out the details.

18 thoughts on “The Upper Deck: Once More With Feeling

  1. Ed.: A small thread of comments was deleted for being extraordinarily off-topic. This was supposed to be a subject different from the usual political crap. Let’s keep it on topic, shall we?

    • This move should eliminate all the whining about the tarping of the upper deck. Of course, it won’t .

      • Don’t know why it wouldn’t. 12 for the upper deck, with the included $6 for concessions is a great deal when you consider the same seats at the Giants range from $13 on weeknights to $22 on Fri-Sun and “premium” games.

      • It’s a phenomenal deal. Those are great seats, and a terrific value. But it won’t stop the whining because the whining was never about tarping seats that were mostly going unused anyway (and leaving many equally good, cheap seats which also never sold out). It was about not liking Lew Wolff because he would dare consider moving outside city limits, and then looking for reasons to justify the animosity.

  2. ML,

    I tried emailing you, but my email keeps getting kicked back. I’d be interested.

  3. ML, don’t necessarily agree that regulars don’t buy concessions. I have a fielder’s choice plan too and buy in-stadium, usually either Saag’s Italian or Kinder ball tip. Both hit the spot (better than what’s available at AT&T or the awful fare at Stanford Stadium) and it supports the A’s too.

    • I usually get a Souvenir soda, and either a nachos or Saag’s. If I’m with my wife, we may get another soda on hot days and maybe another thing to share. I go to about a dozen or fifteen games a year, and still consider myself hardcore. I like the idea of the Jumbo tickets, and I’m sure I’ll try them out this year. I like the fact that they are trying new things. They may come across something that they’d like to continue doing in a new stadium.

    • I must be a cheap bastard. Sorry, I’m on
      my 3rd Pliny the Younger @ The Hopyard. Woohoo!

    • We have the Grand Slam plan, but I have to admit we hardly buy any grub at the game. We normally catch a Saturday or Sunday game, which means we have lunch outside of the park, and then maybe some cotton candy or Dibs while at the game.

      BTW, we had friends that went to an A’s game and sat in the AYCE section. They said the food and the serivce was terrible. The hot dogs were cold, buns soggy, and the ice cream was melting.

      • Hey Bartlelby –
        .
        I’m probably the original whiner, at least the first published one. I’m Whiner #1. Check this out, okay:
        .
        http://www.athleticsnation.com/2005/12/22/4926/1340
        .
        I wrote that the day the tarps were announced, more or less. Look at the polarity of the comments. Now we enter our 5th season of bickering and not much has changed since then. (Except Pro-Am hoops rules! – I learned, and I switched to a new sport – mountain climbing.)
        .
        Now here’s a passage copied from an email I sent to my pals last month, after coming home from the Coli with tickets for this season*
        .
        “also – interesting news – the third deck right above home plate, sections 316-318, is open this year and only $12. my favorite seats! no longer the bill king memorial all you can eat section, previously $35; no longer covered with tarps. plus you get some kind of food voucher thing, probably like a free hot dog. for walk-ups, perhaps priceless – it’s the luxury box!”
        .
        Does that sound like whining to you?
        .
        No. I think not!
        .
        Remember – I’m Whiner #1 So my whining was precisely about tarping seats, as it turns out – wasn’t it? Seats that I loved.
        .
        PWN!!!!!!

      • freddy… interesting that you gave up on the A’s but still read about them and make self congratulatory posts about them.

        And statements like “MARK MY WORDS: the Wolf and his band of thieves are going to screw you all. For me, it’s over. For you, probably just the beginning of a very painful end.” sort of provide a little fuel to Bartleby’s point… no?

        Have fun climbing rocks.

      • Jeffrey – are you the Jeffery who is “Editor-at-large”?
        .
        If so, I’m somewhat dismayed that you give me the slap-down simply for participating in the discussion here. Is this the editorial position of this site – to insult anyone who doesn’t agree with you? Who offers a viewpoint you don’t wish to understand?
        .
        “This move should eliminate all the whining about the tarping of the upper deck. Of course, it won’t .” – that was bartleby’s premise.
        .
        I believe I provided proof that:
        .
        1) I am an original tarp whiner, a pissed-off customer, as evidenced by the statements I made back in 2005, including that which you quoted.
        .
        2) I am no longer whining, as indicated in my recent email.
        .
        I think the conclusion should be pretty clear: bartelby’s statement is wrong.
        .
        If you don’t want to admit this, that’s fine, but rules out any further discussion – you’ve already made up your mind.
        .
        “Have fun climbing rocks” – could you be any more condescending?
        .
        But the irony there gives me a huge chuckle and I thank you for that. I’ll stick that in a summit register for you. “Have fun climbing rocks – Lew Wolf”, I’ll sign. The tarps have been belly belly good to me, as it transpired. Rock climbing is fun!
        .
        Oh, I’m so tempted to sign off with a condescending pot-shot myself, but I’ll try to be a gentleman. As the third deck was a subject near and dear to me, I felt compelled to repsond. If you don’t value my participation, I’m happy to move on.

  4. As it sits now, whether I get food depends on if I get to a game early or not. If I’m there right before the first pitch or later and the game is at all crowded (20k+), I’m going to miss an inning waiting in any of the lines that include popular items (Ribs N Things, Saags, etc.), so I’ll probably go without.

    I can see concessions taking forever for a sold-out Raider game, but for a 20k A’s game it’s just ridiculous. If they set up more beer lines (to take pressure off the food lines) and opened more stands down the lines and in the bleachers, all the lines would be less, and I’d visit those and probably spend more money. If they had vendors with anything other than ice cream and soda (remember when the hot dog guys would come around with the big cases of dogs in hot water and get the dogs out and put them in the bun for you?) that would take the pressure off the food lines as well. It would also be a better experience in general and I would go to more games. But I guess this doesn’t add up for them economically (same for the huts on the BART ramp selling pre-printed tickets and saving one about 20 mins in line), so oh well.

    • Problem is if only 20k are going to show up it’s makes not sense from the A’s POV to shorten your line. It costs more for them to open those more convenient concessions down the line than they’d bring in from moving through and getting a few bucks from the few extra fans like yourself that won’t get in the exiting longer lines.

      • Oh, I know that, the problem is that I’m not sure that they’ve done an analysis of how their less-than-fan-friendly changes in the past few years have reduced ticket demand (including parking, merch, everything else that people spend money on), not just the $5 I’m going to spend on a sausage.

        Anyway, regarding the upper deck seating, what I think is going to happen is that the day-of-gamers will buy the upper deck seats (as in non-prime games they are the cheapest when you factor the food allowance in) and that they will be the new seats that people sneak into the plaza infield from (as opposed to the plaza bleachers). At this point, if you’re going to have the upper deck concessions open (which was their supposed money-saver) and you’re not making $35 a ticket from the AYCE, it really makes no sense to keep the plaza bleachers open. If they’re insistent on keeping the capacity at 34k, they should tarp the plaza bleachers and open, say 310-324, as those are much better seats than anything except the front row of the plaza bleachers.

      • >they should tarp the plaza bleachers and open, say 310-324, as those are much better seats than anything except the front row of the plaza bleachers.

        here, here!

        i just wanna watch baseball.

        see you there!

  5. Hey ML I know this is slightly OT, but can we look forward to your anaylsis of the city of oakland’s decision to conduct a feasilbility study of a new coliseum staduim site for the raiders?

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