Can’t give these tickets away

The Merc’s Daniel Brown wrote a bleak article on A’s attendance, grabbing a few choice quotes from Andy Dolich and A’s sales/marketing veep Jim Leahey. Dolich reflected on how the Coliseum used to be packed during the Bash Brothers era, and pointed a finger at how ownership’s constant desire to move out of Oakland has hurt attendance.

“Really, it just made me sad,” he said. “There was a time – and it’s getting harder for people to remember – when the Coliseum was the place to be. It was the Giants who were an afterthought. It was the Giants who were playing in a dump and waiting for high-profile opponents to come into town. It’s completely flipped.”

There are also the numerous things done over the years that have effectively reduced the team’s exposure over time.

  • Closure of A’s Clubhouse stores (ca. 2000)
  • Consistent difficulty in getting a decent radio deal in place (not really ownership’s fault)
  • Elimination of Fanfest
  • Tarping off the third deck
  • No improvements to the Coliseum other than visual changes (vinyl signage)

Of course, there are cases like the Tampa Bay Rays, where $35 million of improvements were made that – even when combined with a winning ballclub – had very little effect on attendance. Sometimes a dump is a dump, and a competitive situation with the Giants only highlights the dumpiness. The A’s are really getting left behind due to their stadium malaise, and nothing’s gonna change as long as the Coliseum is home.

Brown also lists all of the promotions being offered just for the upcoming nine-game homestand.

  • Tuesday vs. Florida: Free Parking Tuesday.
  • Wednesday vs. Florida: $2 Wednesday.
  • Thursday vs. Florida: Root Beer Float Day and Free Hot Dog Thursday.
  • Friday vs. Arizona: Friday Family Pack.
  • Saturday vs. Arizona: Fireworks Night (watch from field).
  • Sunday vs. Arizona: None.
  • July 4 vs. Seattle: Fourth of July Visor giveaway.
  • July 5 vs. Seattle: Free Parking Tuesday.
  • July 6 vs. Seattle: $2 Wednesday.

This actually leads me to wonder if there are too many different types of promotions and discounts. It sure doesn’t look like Free Parking Tuesdays has any great effect on attendance. The novelty for BART Dollar Wednesdays, which was strong a decade ago, has thoroughly worn off. The Yankees, Giants, and to a lesser extent, the Red Sox bring in other teams’ fans. Fireworks nights bring in casual fans and families. Giveaways are great to bump up paid attendance, but take a look at the steady stream of “fans” leaving the Coliseum on the BART ramp before the first pitch is thrown and tell me that it helps in terms of real fan support. Would the A’s be better served by across-the-board ticket price drops? Would it even matter?

44 thoughts on “Can’t give these tickets away

  1. re: The A’s are really getting left behind due to their stadium malaise, and nothing’s gonna change as long as the Coliseum is home.

    …Absolutely. It makes no sense to wax sentimental about 20 years ago, when the A’s played in probably one of the better baseball parks in the NL and the Giants played at Candlestick. Now, the A’s have the worst facility in MLB – a football stadium, while the Giants have the best stadium.

  2. Did I say NL? I meant MLB

  3. It would never happen but I’d be curious what would happen if the A’s or Rays for that matter offered a flat ticket price, say $20 a head to sit where you please. First come first serve. Logistacally it doesn’t make sense but I wonder. Would there be a mad rush to buy up tix at the chance to sit behind homeplate or the dugout for $20?

  4. I don’t really think it’s the stadium, per ce, that makes the difference, but the SETTING for the stadium. The Giants have really benefited from the attractiveness of an evening of a dinner and a game. They have benefited from being a part of the urban fabric. With the Colliseum, you feel like you’re part of a dystopian environment. Who wants to pay for that?

  5. *without seeing any statistical data or market research

    My opinion is any additional drop in ticket prices would not result in increased demand. The A’s already sport one of the lowest ticket price spectrum in any major sport (including San Jose Earthquake tix). If the A’s were to move further to reduce ticket prices you continue to harm your brands value – reduce the value people see in attending as a luxury instead of an always available option. Once you start waves of reductions in price you have a hard time getting that value back (ex. Wine flash websites). I think we all agree the tarps have been ineffective, driving away the lower income segment and creating an artificial scarcity for a product that was already in decline.
    Given the list of “deals” and the lack of impact – aside from bobblehead dolls and fireworks – I’d venture to say the fanbase is numb to such overload. Deals lose their value and become the expectation, so eventually if there isn’t a deal attached it reduces the attractiveness of attending a weekday game even further.
    I recall the Wednesday $1 tix and hot dogs was a real winner in the early 2000s, but that value faded after a few years – where they would fairly often exceed 30,000 for wednesday game, this season they are averaging 20,023. This number is bouyed by games against NYY & BOS at about 27,000 avg between the two so the number is non-out-of-town-draw is around 16,000 after taking those out.

  6. If they pulled back on promos, people would complain about them not marketing well or something. It seems to me they saw this homestand coming up, saw the potential for some seriously low-drawing games, and given that schools are just letting out, tried to capitalize on the timing. Hard to blame anyone, here.

  7. Part of the problem is that people don’t even recognize the A’s as a historically successful franchise. It seems like when people think of the Raiders or 49ers, they think of two historic franchises who have hit hard times. There is still a faint aura of the past that brightens up the present and instills hope. Now this is not really hard evidence, but I work with teenagers and nearly none of them even know the A’s have won multiple championships and they live in the East Bay! Whenever I talk about the A’s with coworkers the A’s and “triple a” are usually linked in the same conversation. I don’t know if it’s the Giants pounding people over the head with propaganda or bad marketing or whatever, but the A’s seem to have a really bad public image as second rate organization.

  8. @cuppingmaster
    Yes, they would complain about reduced promotions – once you start offering it as a regular service it becomes an expectation, not a special promotion.
    Doing some promos with the 4th of July weekend is always good – people take off time to spend with family and get outside, a baseball game is classic americana and the A’s get the nostalgic boost during this period. The promos help reinforce the benefit to attending.
    The team suffers from a poor image, poor stadium, poor owner (well, one is “poor” anyways, the other…not so much), poor players, poor record, poor TV / radio, poor community relationship in a poor city. We po’!
    To get it back to where it was would take a huge overhaul, but I feel the well has been poisoned with Wolff v. Oakland to a point it’s totaled until a stadium decision is made. If a stadium is eventually built in Oakland and Wolff stayed on, there would have to be some significant public reconciliation with the community. I just want them in the Bay – i understand that SJ offers the best opportunity for a successful franchise, this is if Selig says NO.

  9. We have all been watching this team die a slow death. It’s not the ticket prices, the promotions or even the controversial tarps. The attendance is an indirect result of AT&T Park. The SF Giants have built a large fanbase of both die hard and casual fans throughout northern California thanks to a beautiful ballpark that helped the team generate new revenue streams (Bonds and strong marketing didn’t hurt either). The emergence of AT&T coupled with the aging Coliseum has solidified and grown the Giants fanbase. All the while, the A’s look to build a new yard anywhere in the bay as public interest wains with rebuilding teams and dillapidated digs. The situation was dire 5 years ago and with no decision from Selig on a potential move to SJ it has now become calamitous. Point fingers all you want, it will make no difference. This team is on life support and needs a transplant to survive. Only Selig and the Giants can help this team only neither are willing to help.

  10. a’s attendance will ALWAYS be an issue as long as they stay at the coliseum. if they didn’t draw “well” to most when they were drawing anywhere fron 2.2-2.3 million from 00-03 when they made the playoffs each year. there was a general buzz and excitement around the team and fanbase, there’s no way they’re gonna draw that amount for this team in it’s current state with a tarped off 3rd deck, the owner imo driving away fans with their moves both on and off the field since taking over back in 06 and maybe more importantly this team isn’t a fun team to watch. a’s offense stinks and there’s no disputing that. the casual fan isn’t coming to watch teams that can barely score 3 or 4 runs in most games in a lousy venue. they can at at&t because the park itself is a huge draw but no way would sf be drawing the 30k they were at at&t especially in 08 when the team was horrible and there wasn’t a drawing card with bonds around had they played their games at the stick.

    even firework nights don’t draw sellouts as they used too even when the team was bad during the mid 90s up until 98 which were some very lean years on the field. weekend games used to get at least 25k-30k, now you’re lucky to even get 20k even when their are promo giveaways.

    until a new park is built be it sj or oakland and yes even as an oaklander who i personally wouldn’t mind if the team moved to sj because i think it’d be huge for them to be the team of silicon vally, i do think a park in oakland could work. maybe not to the extent it would in sj but they’d do a hell of a lot better with a new park somewhere in downtown oakland or near the waterfront then they’re doing no at a concreate hole at the coliseum.

  11. also agree with the previous post before mine.

    you couldn’t have scripted it better for sf to regain this dominance in the bay area they have now not only with their moves over the past 15 years but with how the a’s owners have handled their end of the bargain in driving into the ground what was along with the niners as the top sports franchise here in the bay area both on and off the field.

    if i didn’t know it i’d think this was some huge conspiracy.

  12. I’m surprised that they’re drawing as good as they are. The schedule hasn’t helped and the weather so far (like today) hasn’t helped either, so it could actually be a little better overall. The baseball Gods aren’t on the A’s side, not for a long time now. Well, we got a movie about them coming up, so that’s kind of good.

  13. They are playing in a 45 year old park that lacks the classic charm of Fenway, Wrigley or even Dodger Stadium. Twenty-five years ago, it still seemed like a state of the art place. But even if Mount Davis hadn’t been built, it would not be acceptable to the ticket buying public today. AT&T Park, and the entire Camden Yards generation of ballparks, have drastically raised the bar.

    There isn’t a whole lot of difference among Oakland, Fremont, or San Jose in terms of the attendance bump the A’s would receive with a new, baseball-only park. At any Bay Area location, a new park will give the A’s a significant attendance increase for at least 4-5 years, along with a permanent increase in team revenues. Where it is feasible to build such a park, if it is feasible anywhere, is of course a different question.

  14. Dolich’s comments were silly and self-serving. Here’s what he said:

    “The Haas family didn’t threaten. They didn’t complain. They built a heck of an A’s team, brought in a great manager, bonded with the community — and looked what happened.”

    He didn’t finish the story. The rest goes: “Attendance went up. Unfortunately, the Haas family lost their shirts and realized this wasn’t sustainable. So they cut payroll, and fans immediately fled like rats off a sinking ship. Boy, I’d be awfully surprised if anyone was dumb enough to do that again.”

  15. @Simon–Agree 100% with your post. If there was no Mt. Davis and some baseball improvements to the Coil were made, it would of course be better than it is now, but fall way short of AT&T, Camden, etc.., The area is something less to be desired to. Stuff to do before and after the game is the lasted rage now. Why can’t they at least upgrade the tiny, antiquated scoreboards? They totally suck!! I know, who’s gonna pay for it? Why can’t the city/county, Raiders and A’s get together and do some improvements in this area? Jeez, 20% of the bulbs are burned out and they have trouble finiding parts just to keep the thing running i read. Sad.

  16. Not that it would bring any kind of immediate attendance boost, but it’s hard to understand why the A’s have never really marketed their history the way the Giants do theirs. Will Clark, Willie McCovey, and for that matter John McGraw are probably all better remembered by Bay Area baseball fans than the great “Swingin’ A’s” from the early 70s.
    This has been a consistent failing of every A’s ownership group, beginning with the moronic Charlie Finley, who in a lot of ways is the origin of the team’s longstanding image problems. The Haas family brought back Connie Mack’s old white elephant mascot, but otherwise A’s fans have rarely been reminded of the franchise’s championship history in Oakland, much less its remarkable Philadelphia heritage.

  17. Unfortunately, that’s what the media salivates over; silly and self-serving commentary. Dolich also doesn’t mention that during the Haas years the Coliseum was still regarded as a top venue in baseball. What would Haas think of the “toilet bowl” resembling edifice now?…

  18. @Tony D.
    Had never thought of it as a “toilet bowl” before, but now you mention it – i can’t get the image out of my head.

  19. yeah, don’t get why the a’s don’t celebrate their history more.

    they’re a charter member of the al, 3rd all time with 9 world series titles, and really other than the nyy and maybe stl…is there any other team that has had as much on the field success than the a’s. they’ve just been plagued by cheap owners. since moving to oakland other than the nyy they’ve won the most world titles with 4 and i believe pennants with 7 behind only the nyy…not to mention 14 division titles and one wild card.

    mack and finley in particular broke up championship teams because neither wanted to pay to keep the great players they had. who knows what could’ve happened if schott/hoffman been able to keep those 2000s a’s team together. intead of 9 world titles, the a’s org could’ve had well into double digits with 12 or 13 and be behind only the nyy for most world series titles if they had just kept their great teams together.

  20. I think the A’s can learn a lot from the Raiders and *shudder* the Giants in terms of celebrating and marketing their history. The A’s have so much to be proud of, but you wouldn’t know it if you were a casual fan. Promoting and respecting the past would enlighten the fan base and current players alike. Whenever I see Otto or Stabler walking the Coliseum I have a goose bump moment, something I’m sure Giant fans feel when Mays is trotted out every other day. Even if the A’s keep losing,surrounding the franchise with tradition can only help things.

  21. @lets go a’s And by “cheap owners,” of course you mean “owners who insisted on keeping expenses in line with revenues.”

  22. @bartleby–how much revenue sharing should an owner pocket? I know Pitt and Fla have abused it more than most. Put a few bucks back into the Coli, where you got a sweetheart lease and concession deal. The team’s value has almost doubled in 5-6 years, profits from 10-20 mill per year, life is good. They’ve made out since day one.

  23. The Toilet Bowl thing is harsh, but I noticed the resemblance on Google Earth several years ago…

  24. @ru155,
    The “toilet bowl” comparison (tank as Mt. Davis and seat as circular upper deck) didn’t originate from me.
    The credit for that one belongs to someone else.

  25. I don’t think there’s much the wayward A’s can learn from the wayward Raiders.

  26. When the place was dead in the late 70’s, it was known as the Mausoleum. When the Haas family turned things around, it was one of the best venues in sports. Now that it’s been ruined for football and has aged some, it’s the toilet bowl…lol. Yeah, but it’s our toilet bowl and we play pretty damn well in it!! Wet field, rain delay tonight, usually means a win for us.

  27. @ Dan Why do you say that? Especially in terms of celebrating the past.

  28. @jk “how much revenue sharing should an owner pocket? I know Pitt and Fla have abused it more than most. Put a few bucks back into the Coli, where you got a sweetheart lease and concession deal. ”
    I don’t begrudge business owners the chance to actually make a profit. Also, it would be one thing if they were already playing in a new venue. However, right now, the priority is building a new venue, which requires money, so I am ok with them banking as much as they can.
    As far as investing millions in the Coli (which I fervently hope will be demo’d in the next five or six years because the A’s have moved to San Jose and the Raiders are building a new venue), I’d rather see that money go into Cisco Field.

  29. @bartleby–and I’d rather see that money go towards Pixar Park @ Victory Ct!!
    Damn that sounds good!

  30. Pixar doling out $500 million for naming rights would definitely be a record for MLB. Would they do it at Victory Court?

  31. @TonyD–i honestly doubt it Tony, but it would be cool. The creative minds there have an affection for Oakland, using Fenton’s in the “Up” movie, and also the “O’ was featured on a map in the film “The Incredibles” with actual street names. BTW, did any of you see the Pixar exhibit at the Oakland Museum last year? It was way cool.
    Jeez, anoither rain delay at Weather has not been good for the A’s this year, but okay for the Giant’s. Figures.

  32. What I remember of the success of the A’s in the 80’s that turned it around from a seldom attended team was a magical spark of marketing. The A’s marketing geniuses of that generation made it fun. Billy Martin certainly helped, but they made the team fun to watch. The brought in KFRC rock n roll music when most teams were still mired in the organ. They brought in Crazy George. You saw ads for them in the newspaper constantly. In essence, the owners invested in the franchise. I will admit that they are trying harder inside the park with some new things like human dot racing, steal the base, and Kara the on-site announcer, but the average outsider doesn’t know any of this stuff exists. The A’s really need to do a better job of marketing the team and playing to their strengths, not allowing others to dwell on their weaknesses.

  33. I remember in the late 70’s when things were very bleak. Attendance was horrible, no marketing, and few promotions. There was always half price Monday’s which drew much better than Tue-Thurs, but the casual fan really didn’t know about these. In June of 1978, I was shocked to see a little ad in the Chronicle for the half price Monday night game against the Red Sox. We were in 1st place at the time, which helped, but when we went to the game the ticket lines were huge. 36,436 fans attended to see the A’s beat the Bosox . It was the biggest crowd since the 1975 playoffs against those same Redsox.

  34. “…while the Giants have the best stadium.”
    pjk, alot of sports talk people who have been to several ML ballparks to open after AT&T, would not agree with you. While AT&T may be among the better ones in baseball, there are others that are heavily favored instead.

  35. What would be the benefit to Pixar in buying naming rights for a ballpark? They make movies, not consumer products. Who goes to see a movie based on the studio that made it? How many movie studios have sponsored sports facilities? What has been Pixar’s history in sports sponsorship? None at all, perhaps? Sounds like more grasping at straws. (Meanwhile, another day goes by and no preliminary EIR on VC. Can’t be good)

  36. So now that the state budget has passed, and redevelopment is effectively dead can we give up on any talk of Victory Court (since it’s now dead as well)?

  37. Pixar’s campus sits on top of the Oakland Oaks’ field in Emeryville. Joe Dimaggio used to play there. I think there is good baseball energy on that real estate. That’s a good idea jk-usa!

  38. Evidence that Cisco wants to sponsor a ballpark: A signed, $120 million contract
    Evidence that Pixar wants to sponsor a ballpark: None

  39. @pjk – I disagree. Pixar has a huge name and there are many people that would consider going to see a movie they knew little about just because Pixar made it.
    But indeed, we haven’t seen one indication that Pixar would throw any money down for a new park anywhere.

  40. Agree that name recognition can help movie studios (especially one whose brand is as closely tied to a specific type of movie as Pixar’s). However, Pixar hardly needs a boost in this area.
    Anyway, that’s not how Disney does things. They don’t pay to put their name on stuff, they get other companies to pay to put their name on Disney stuff (e.g. Epcot attractions).

  41. @LS – i disagree in that Pixar is owned by Disney. I have not seen any of the major studios have sponsorship to a stadium. It’s not required because there’s so much publicity from the movie advertisements themselves.
    @ pjk – i agree with you that instead of these pie-in-the-sky fantasies, the concentration should be asked why hasn’t anyone in oakland / east bay committed to real money ( a la Cisco) on naming rights? all these hypothetical are just detracting from the real question there. Lets see some commitment like the SLVG letterhead endorsing such endeavor. Heck, let’s just see a feasible business plan that doesn’t have to do with a philanthropic owner or better yet, commitment from the residents that would favor a public subsidy….

  42. @Anon-Which part are you disagreeing with? Where did I say that they would or should sponsor a stadium? I merely said that they have a huge name as a studio and that people would see non-Toy Story, Cars, etc movies if they knew it came from Pixar. I also said that there has been no peep from them about sponsoring a stadium. And with that, calling anything Pixar Field is jumping the gun.

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