Sprucing up the girl


A blank wall fronting one of the restrooms on the Coliseum's lower concourse

If you’ve visited the Coliseum so far this (highly unsuccessful) homestand, you may have noticed a series of new signs on the lower concourse which resemble the directionals used at airports. Apparently these were installed prior to the first Raiders preseason game, which was played last Thursday. Though the signs could stand to be larger, they should prove effective at directing fans to the right locations, as opposed to the disparate signage used until now.

I bring this up because it was one of the first things mentioned by Bryan Cauwels when I ran into him on the lower concourse on Sunday. He mentioned that it was not only effective signage, it helped provide a little extra color in a place that so badly needs it. Later, when I hung out with Bryan, Nina, and Mark in 206 after the A’s tied the game, we talked a little about what could be done to improve things at the Coliseum. Bryan suggested a massive paint job, similar to what was done to Tropicana Field a few years ago. Nina remarked that it might be difficult to accomplish due to potential bureaucratic and union-related issues.

Yet this is a place that, despite its obvious structural deficiencies, is absolutely begging for makeover of some sort. So what if it’s a Target makeover instead of a Nordstrom makeover? It can still be good. And yes, I’ve used the term “lipstick on a pig” before, but here’s the thing: she’s our pig. She’s all we have for at least the next three seasons, maybe more. Why not make the most of it? And when it does come time to tear the girl down, we’ll have a ton of really awesome souvenirs to commemorate our years at the venerable Coliseum.

Here’s the catch. We can’t expect the A’s to do it. We can’t expect the Raiders to lift a finger. Not even the Coliseum Authority will do it due to a lack of funds (plus the labor stuff). If you looked up their Relationship statuses on Facebook they’d all say, “It’s complicated.” I get that. Knowing that, why can’t we do it? It’s not just their place. It’s our place, our second home. If these organizations won’t do it, we’ll have to take it up ourselves. Now that will take a large volunteer effort and some fundraising for supplies. It doesn’t have to carry a huge price tag. All it needs is some will and skill, a vision (probably crowdsourced), and someone to coordinate the effort.

First up is the picture at the top of this post. It’s a big, blank, white wall. Wouldn’t that be a great place for a mural, similar to the other murals we’ve seen in the past? Here’s one at Gate B.

Correct me if I'm wrong - this mural came with the 1995 renovations.

Wouldn’t more murals that celebrate the teams, fans, and yes, employees at the Coliseum be better than gray or white concrete? And here’s another idea. You know when you’re walking along the lower concourse, you look up and see a bunch of pipes and conduits along the cinder block wall? Why not cover that up with something colorful, like vinyl banners? Or painted canvas or plywood? To make it work, metal frames would have to be constructed that would pop out of the wall, leaving the conduits unaffected.

Conduits on the upper walls can be covered with something more aesthetically pleasing. Rollup doors could be painted green.

Then you’d have a few touches here and there, such as:

  • Painted signs or vinyl banners hanging down from the supports
  • Painted rollup doors for the concession stands.
  • LED lighting to brighten the concourses.

The thing is, for this to happen we collectively have to get past this constant blame game of why doesn’t ownership or the authority do it. The answer as to why is simple – there is no money in it. It’s not going to cause a significant increase in attendance for either team, and the costs to contract it out professionally make it a poor value proposition. For those of us who make the effort to watch the team game in, game out, a volunteer effort would be akin to citizens taking their neighborhood back. If the man won’t do it, why not us? Rally the resources, sign a few waiver forms, and raise some bucks. No one ever displayed will by whining. They did it by doing. We can do this, A’s fans.

Got ideas on how to do this? You know where the comments section is.

55 thoughts on “Sprucing up the girl

  1. It’s true, the more dilapidated a space you frequent grows, the more likely your mind state is to drift into ennui and outright depression. The sad state of the team on the field is only accentuated by (and the quality of feeling you can have watching them out there on any given day or night) is directly tied to the way the venue meets the eye and what vibes that puts out to the Coliseum patron. It’s just that the labor union fees are so high (Chris Townsend loves to tell me how it costs the city of Oakland just as much to have union personnel work on the Coli as it does for NYC to work on Madison Square Garden because the compensation rates are among the highest in the US out here) and I think that’s what stymies any sort of (I agree, fundamentally necessary) renovation that can be made to the existing facility.

    I wonder if security’d stop us trying to smuggle (not beer or glass bottles) cans of paint in!

  2. at first glance i thought the first picture was one of the urinal troughs….argh! Those suckers are such 3rd world (dont amhik). anyhow, one recommendation i would have is to open up the concession area to make it wider walkway if possible, maybe eliminate some altogether (it’s an eyesore to see so many closed gates on a gameday). Then maybe throughout all the walkway, have a celebratory “walk of fame” enshrining a’s, warriors, and raiders greats (yes i know that last one sounded oxymoronic – sorry niners fan in my coming out:X). it would be nice if the coliseum didn’t feel like a cheap transit hub and more like an entertainment venue instead….and oh yes, upgrade those friggin urinal troughs already! :X

  3. Does anybody know if the new directional signs are there for the football season only? I’m asking because the HD flatscreen television behind section 120 (where Guest Relations/Designated Driver/A’s Slient Auction tables are) is only put up there during the football season for whatever reason.

    I would also paint green the exterior walls of the concessions (and their rollup doors) as well as the exterior walls of the restrooms on “outside” portions of the Plaza Concourse. Those concessions rarely get used at all and could use some fresh paint. And obviously much of the lower level concourse needs to be painted green (including the concession rollup doors and blank white/grey walls as mentioned.) BTW, I would actually volunteer my own time and money to do some of this.

  4. Have each person to donate $1 dollar to a organization or fund that will sculpt a bronze statue, paint a giant mural.

    I wish I lived in the Bay Area because I would love to be part of this effort.

  5. Seconded on Chris’ post w/r/t volunteering. I’m not very artistic, but I’m good for manual labor.

  6. I would volunteer to help beautify my community. But alas, that is a union shop (the Coliseum). Even if someone donated money for materials, there’s no way it would happen. Too many issues, insurance, etc.

  7. This is a great idea. Oakland certainly has lots of talented artists, especially when it comes to murals. How cool would it be to have images of A’s/Raider greats painted throughout the Coliseum! Would the unions put up a stink if they knew it was being done by/for the community? Wouldn’t that be a PR hit?

  8. I am in. Who else is?

  9. David, what if we included the logo of the union in a mural? Prominent and big like?

  10. The Giants added amenities to Candlestick Park even though they 1. Did not own the stadium or control concessions, 2. Shared the stadium with the Niners, and 3. did not have a vote in the affirmative for ATT Park.

    Wolff made a big misstep in seriously down playing the stadium BEFORE he ever tried to put lipstick on a pig. He should have followed the Magowan plan of maximizing the Coliseum and then complained of the limited gains as insufficient. Laying down the tarps on the upper decks was a start, not an end.

  11. Hey, I’m in. I’m also a union guy (Teamsters Local #853, San Leandro), and am a semi-artist to boot. When do I start?

  12. If someone can get Larry Reid (Councilmen for that part of Oakland), Al Davis and Lew Wolff to donate the resources and the plans/drawings (you can’t just start painting randomly); i’m in too! Murals of Rickey Henderson, Jim Otto, Catfish Hunter, etc. would be awesome!!

  13. LW feels hiring Phil Garner to analyze this pathetic team’s situation is more important than any cosmetic upgrades to our beloved dump.

  14. To Marine Layer and anyone else:

    I think the idea to put murals in and/around the Coliseum is a great idea.

    I would suggest emailing Mayor Quan, the head of the Coliseum Authority, the pres. of the board of sups, Council Pres. Larry Reid, Oakland Chamber Pres. Joe Haraburda, the A’s, Raiders, Warriors, local artist associations, community groups, etc.

    Get this on the County and City agenda (formal meetings agenda).

    By the way, I think the Raiders are open to ideas.

    I think celebrating the great sports history of Oakland/East Bay is a great idea.

    Again, great idea(s)! A quick email and/phone calls would get this done.

    A’s observer.

  15. @David and A’O—your both big Oakland supporters–why not take the lead on what your suggesting rather than making suggestions what others should do?

  16. @ML–re: You’re not part of the solution.
    Uh, dude, and neither is LW/JF apparently.
    Just bitch and moan about the facility and they have more money than the city/county will ever have. I think they should take a small part of their $100 mill they’ve pocketed in profits the last 5 plus years and do some cosmetic upgrades to the old gal. The Raiders should too, but the A’s are the main tenants 81 times a year, have a sweetheart rent deal and should do a little more than “fix leaks and stuff.”
    I’m so damn frustrated with this team on the field and more so with this ownership, but many of you continue to give them a free pass.

    • @jk-usa – I’m trying to move past this finger pointing business and all you can do is settle right back into it. You could say, “I’ll talk to my union steward about rallying the community around this concept.” Instead you complain. Your attitude makes me sick.

  17. @GoA’s – ML ask us to comment on his idea. I don’t have time to help organize an effort of this magnitude.

  18. How about gathering a groundswell by OAFC to have a paint party? Get a corporation to donate the paint or at least offer at cost. Offer up the biggest paint party before an evening game and treat the participants to a game afterwards. It seems like a win-win for everyone.

  19. Hey everybody, since this was my idea I am obviously up for the challenge of trying to get it done and organized. I have a lot of ideas and will need help from many people, but I’m sure that I can count on the A’s fans to come through. One of my ideas for this project is to get in touch with some of the local high schools in Oakland and Alameda County and get there art departments involved.

    I am also thinking that I will start to lobby the Coliseum Authority starting in October and I have a target of February 2012 to take action and make it happen at the Stadium. I already have some idea of a paint scheme for some of the building, which I have shared with lots of people that I know at the games. I go to every home game for both the A’s and Raiders and I have a pretty good feel for some of what needs to happen.

    I am actually thinking that we need to leave the A’s and Raiders out of the discussion and work directly with the Coliseum Authority, unless we need to get the teams involved to get around hurdles that we may encounter. I say if we cant get anything done, we do it ourselves. Anyways there is ton of potential here and a way to get some very positive press for the A’s in an indirect way. It is also an opportunity for us to show that there are a bunch of us who care no matter what and that we want the best for the teams that we support.

    I don’t really see how anyone can be against this plan, Let’s do this!! I’m going to get more serious about this in the next couple of weeks and I will be looking for help, so get ready!



  20. Bill- One of the A’s biggest corporate sponsors is Kelly-Moore Paints. I think that this can work to our advantage…

  21. @Anon–At first I thought it was one of those urinal troughs too!
    The Redsox and Dodgers finally got rid of their troughs I read, and the Cubs recently had a questionnaire for fans if they should get rid of their troughs or not. A lot of Cub fans feel rather nostalgic about those prehistoric, kind of nasty things and want them to stay..lol.

    Attention A’s Marketing– Your next great promotion to pack the house should be this:

  22. I’m in, to the extent I can be.

    And I don’t think (as a union member and shop steward) the union issues are unresolvable. The A’s have seemingly had good relationships with unions like the Plumbers and Steamfitters who’ve sponsored promotions and advertising in the past. If it were clear that this was a one-off effort to make some cosmetic improvements that doesn’t jeopardize anyone’s job, I would think it could be negotiated. It’s not going to be as simple as “you get the paint, I’ll bring my stepladder”, but it shouldn’t be impossible.

    Could Oaklandish be recruited into this effort? Their A’s-related merch is terrific and they have good contacts in the local arts community. I’m sure we could brainstorm other artists and arts organizations to approach for help. How about “This Is Our House” as the name/slogan for our organization?

  23. I’d be down to donate some time and labor.

  24. Leave the troughs alone! The urinals at AT&T are so far apart, you use about three times the space per person that the troughs do (I don’t know why they can’t put them closer together, then they’d only use twice the space). If you’re too insecure to pee into the same trough as another dude then maybe you shouldn’t go out in public.

    It was funny when the Giants were here this year that none of the Giants fans were standing up to be the second or third at a trough. I think they thought they were single-person urinals!

  25. Great idea – a grass roots movement to get the Coli looking nicer.

    When I last was able to go to a game (in May), I saw a tremendous amount potential, due to years of upkeep neglect, for the Coli in terms of making it a much more pleasant fan experience.

    First of all – the dark, dirty gray concrete everywhere. It is butt ugly, and it feels like you’re entering a prison, rather than a sports stadium. It’s particularly depressing in the lower concourse, where you feel like you’re in the bowls of a mid-evil dungeon, and one that is falling apart.

    This is a simple problem to solve – paint, murals, banners, covering up the exposed pipes (in the lower concourse), and better (led) lighting. This is something that is do-able from a grass roots perspective.

    And maybe a grass roots movement will light a fire under the asses of Lew Wolff and Al Davis, as in “hey, if the fans and community care so much about the environment that they’re willing to put in time, money and effort to improve it, maybe I should invest a little bit”. After all, as I understand it, they get credits in their leases when they make stadium upgrades.

  26. Has anyone contacted O.co regarding getting the ball rolling on the approval/clearance process for getting this done? Besides the O.co webpage, is there a more direct avenue of communication? Regardless, I’m gonna draft a blurb below regarding a mural which could be a precursor to a proper proposal once all the parts are in place:


    As a group of A’s, Raiders and W’s fans, we would like to organize and fund a beautification of a blank wall within the lower concourse of the O.co Coliseum. It would most likely be a mural celebrating the teams that call the O.co Coliseum home. Where can we start receiving the proper approvals from the Joint-Powers, teams, etc. to get this project done? Naturally, we understand that this may have to wait until Feb, March ’12. Thank you for your help.


    For something like a mural, it’ll only take 2-4 experienced people, tops. But anything else will need a rally site– like something provided by Google Sites that has forms which’ll populate spreadsheets to keep things organized and easily communicable. I don’t mind setting that up in late-Sept granted the Coliseum gives us the thumbs up.

  27. @ Brian – eliminating the troughs are not about being insecure (ive used it for decades now), but rather shaking off the old school 3rd world image it conveys. Ever go to a public bathroom stall in the countryside of China? Thats how outdated the Coliseum feels. If the a’s are ever to shed their cheap, low budget, ghetto…err value image, it would help to spruce up the most antiqidated(sp?) aspect of the baseball experience. We, the bay area, are known for our hi tech lifestyle after all.

  28. At this point, to replace the troughs with maybe only 5 or 6 years left in this joint (Raiders going to SC, A’s to SJ or VC, or a whole new Coli), it would probably be a waste of money. That’s why I was surprised that they may get new scoreboards coming soon. The painting and cosmetic touch-ups is a great idea for the short term of the joint.

  29. They might not have a choice with the scoreboards; parts just aren’t available. Troughs don’t typically have unique parts, and are probably easier to fix with a quick trip to OSH.

  30. @LS– yeah, good point. New scoreboards just a little bigger and better would make a huge difference. I don’t mind the troughs. Been use to them for years going to the Coli.

  31. Not to derail this stirring dialog on urinal troughs, but I went ahead and left a message with the contact info found on the Coliseum’s official site, but I doubt they’ll even reply. Does anyone know who to contact?

  32. Yea, I don’t mind the troughs, but I think, after having attended games at HP Pavilion, having actual urinals would help speed traffic through. People spread out at the Coliseum, allowing a few less people per however-long-the-average-pee-duration-is. Urinals are evenly distributed along the wall and leave no question about whether or not there is room.
    Maybe not an issue during most games, but for sell-outs (which we’d all love more of) it would reduce the worst part of taking a leak….waiting in line.

  33. You can try Darrin Gross…

    Sr. Director, Corporate Sponsorships

    I’ve emailed him a few times in the past regarding some other issues. I’ve always gotten a response from him and he seems like a nice enough guy.

  34. @LS– at Raider games between quarters and half time, the lines are so long to take a pee, I’ve seen guys piss in the sink and trash cans, they couldn’t hold it any longer. Disgusting!

  35. To “Go A’s” –

    Good point re: taking the lead but my personal/work life precludes putting a ton of energy into this specific project. (I know everyone is busy but I have some special circumstances).

    I can assure you that I have put a significant amount of time and energy re: other aspects of the Raiders and A’s.

    A’s observer.

  36. My Raider game lowlight was seeing some dude take a leak in a mop bucket. Now, since they’ve banned smoking, it is hard to access all the urinals because most of the interior space is devoted to people smoking pot. The law of unintended consequences strikes again.

    The HP Pavilion lines move faster because each bathroom is big enough and has 25-30 urinals in it. Each of the Coliseum ones would only fit 15-20, and that’s if you put the urinals right next to each other (I don’t know what they were thinking at AT&T where some of the bathrooms have 5 urinals or so). If they space them out like at AT&T or the 2nd deck of the Coliseum, you’d probably have more like 10-12 each.

  37. 2nd deck infield of the Coliseum I mean.

  38. Hello, I am super happy with all of the responses and all of the attempts to help out on this project, I am going to put a lot of effort into making this happen. I am going to try to speak with the director of stadium operations tomorrow night at the game, maybe he can provide some insights.

    • Hello, I am super happy with all of the responses and all of the attempts to help out on this project, I am going to put a lot of effort into making this happen. I am going to try to speak with the director of stadium operations tomorrow night at the game, maybe he can provide some insights.

      What kind of feedback did you get from the Director of Stadium Operations?

  39. That mop bucket thing is all too common at the Coli. One good reason why the “three second rule” does NOT apply to food dropped on the ground there…

  40. If this project comes to pass, please remember to honor/depict the Day on the Green concerts. D.o.t.G. is certainly a huge part of Coliseum history.

  41. Hi hecanfoos, that is an excellent suggestion…

  42. Day on The Green in the mid/late 70’s bring back great memories. Lynard Skynard, Frampton and Santana together was one of my faves.

  43. This is a phenomenal idea and I would honestly commit 100% of my free time to sprucing up the Oakland Coliseum. all we would need is 50-100 like-minded people, give us a year and you seriously would not recognize the Coliseum afterwords.

  44. How hard would it be to add some light in the concourse? I am thinking big hanging lights like those you would find hanging in a Lowe’s or something.

  45. Seeing that photo of the Coli restrooms over the past 3 days got me thinking: I can’t wait until we can start talking about a NEW A’S BALLPARK rather than about adding lights to the decrepit concourse (not personally knocking your suggetion Jeffrey; just the fact that we’re still talking about the Coli on this blog).

  46. no offense taken… I can’t wait either

  47. Hey R.M.,
    For the sake of hope and excitement, could you place a cool rendering of Cisco Field below the blog header: constantly staring at a pic of the Coli restroom is starting to get depressing (LOL).

  48. @Tony–i agree the outside of the bathroom pic is depressing, but I’ll take a pic of cutie A’s ball girl Mrs. Field’s back in the day over Cisco Field any day.

  49. I love the leering players in the bullpen.

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