Talking bobbleheads, giveaways, and expectations

The A’s held a 1973 team reunion on April 27. A raft of greats from that repeat championship team were on hand, including Sal Bando, Blue Moon Odom, Bert Campaneris, and Reggie Jackson, who was honored with a commemorative bobblehead.

While the weekend-long reunion went well, the bobblehead giveaway didn’t. Only 10,000 bobbleheads were available for the 31,292 in attendance, which left many who had waited long hours sans souvenir. It’s becoming a common theme: schedule a bobblehead day, line up a bunch of fans, someone inevitably goes home unhappy. Subsequent bobblehead days for Coco Crisp (in June) and Yoenis Cespedes (yesterday) attracted sellout crowds, leaving even more fans without a souvenir. It’s gotten to the point where if a fan is not in line several hours before first pitch, chances are he’ll go home empty handed.

A’s marketing guys Troy Smith and Travis LaDolce invited into the business offices in Oracle Arena before today’s game. I spoke with them for 90 minutes about all manner of giveaways and marketing strategy. Smith admitted that Reggie Jackson day was a debacle and that there was major room for improvement. To that end they bumped up the orders for both the Crisp and Cespedes giveaways from 10,000 to 15,000, a move they had to make months ahead of time in order to ensure prompt delivery. It’s all part of the guessing game the A’s front office constantly has to play regarding demand.

Collectible pins, which get far less attention than bobbleheads

Collectible pins, which get far less attention than bobbleheads

For instance, take yesterday’s game. Now that we’ve come to expect sellouts on bobblehead day, it’s natural to want greater quantities of items. Because of the parking situation associated with the circus next door at the arena, it was decided that the gates should open at 2:30, 90 minutes before the normal time. Throughout the day A’s marketing staff including Smith and LaDolce were monitoring the situation. D Gate, which appeared to be most heavily impacted, ran out of bobbleheads at 3:27 PM. However, by that point lines had fully dissipated so if you had walked up prior to 3:30, chances were good you’d get one. Chances were even better at the season ticket entrance, which usually is stocked well enough to handle giveaways past the point when other gates run out.

What wasn’t known about the game was that the A’s had only sold 25,000 tickets to the game 24 hours prior to first pitch. An incredible 10,000 tickets were sold as either walkups or online during that period. That’s rather typical these days due to the rather predictable number of advance tickets sold. Some additional amount were sold after Cespy won the Home Run Derby. The problem is that the A’s have to plan everything for each game well ahead of time, including staffing and giveaways. Staffing can be handled with some flexibility. Because of the lead times associated with giveaways, bobbleheads have almost no flexibility (well, except for the actual bobblehead itself).

Two other examples of this phenomenon occurred in the last several weeks. The first was on Grant Balfour Gnome Day (June 16), which was a full standing room only sellout. Walkup sales were so high that in the week prior to the game, the front office worried if only 25,000 would show up. On the Fourth of July, less than 27,000 showed up for a picnic blanket giveaway, which left the marketing crew (and me) baffled because the annual fleece blanket giveaway day typically goes gangbusters.

Now think about the leadup to yesterday. All sorts of things could’ve dampened attendance. Cespedes could’ve been eliminated early in the HR Derby. He could’ve been injured early in the season. The team might not have been in postseason contention. All of this comes into play, and if you’re working off a steady base of about 10-15,000 attendees, it can be difficult to justify bumping it up more. The easy thing to say is to order 30-35,000 right off the bat. Because of the team’s limited marketing budget, 35,000 bobbleheads would’ve negatively impacted some other promotional day, potentially getting rid of a promotion altogether. I asked about other teams that sell 40,000 or full capacity quantities such as the Brewers or Dodgers. Those teams can afford to do it because marginal tickets they sell in the leadup to the game are usually very expensive ($100 or more), so they have headroom to make up for it. The A’s have dynamic pricing, but even then prices might go up only 20-30% in the process. Sponsors attached to each giveaway have little say over the quantity since the giveaways have to be planned as early as November prior to the following season, and they generally don’t directly fund giveaway purchases. I pressed on with 35,000 items. Smith countered that the last thing the team wants is to have 5,000 left over. When I said the items could just be sold in the team store, he said (I’m paraphrasing here) that if that’s the case, they’re not a good promotional tool. The whole point is of giveaways is to get people in the park and to give them a special memento. Sell overstock in team store would defeat the purpose (though I suppose it would give the naming rights sponsor an avenue, hint-hint). Judging from the response at the Coliseum, it’s working whether the quantity is 10,000 or 15,000. He admitted that there may be room for more in the future, but it would all be linked to ticket sales since everything flows from there.


James Venes’ June chart showing different teams’ bobblehead giveaway figures

The chart above, put together by the inimitable James Venes independently from this article two months ago, shows the wide spectrum of bobblehead quantities for the various teams. The Brewers and Phillies give to capacity, the Giants and Dodgers are pretty close. Then again, those four teams surpass 3 million in attendance annually. The A’s are in the middle of the pack as far as the bobblehead-to-capacity ratio goes. Last weekend I attended the Ken Griffey Jr. day at Safeco Field. Despite a sure sellout crowd (47,000), they had only 20,000 bobbleheads. Like it or not, giving items to around 40% of the house is standard practice.

Over the years the A’s have tweaked the types of giveaways they’ve done. Gone are the cheapo caps of yesteryear as few people care about those. Smith showed me a commemorative back-to-back World Series champs pennant from 1974, to which his mother added “1974” in pen. I asked why there aren’t giveaway pennants anymore. Smith replied that people don’t seem to hold them in any value. I imagine the same thing could be said about the old end-of-season baseball card giveaways (remember how those were sponsored by Mother’s Cookies?). LaDolce had a similar pennant commemorating the A’s 1992 division crown, a moment that reflected the true end of the Haas era. Nowadays the stuff people want are collectibles, with bobbleheads at the forefront.

Troy Smith's assembled scorecards from The Streak. Note the attendance figures from each.

Troy Smith’s assembled scorecards from The Streak. Note the attendance figures from each. Game 20 isn’t there because Smith he was working the scoreboard that day.

When I was asked for future giveaway suggestions, I only had one: an A’s fan. Preferably an action figure or figurine with a gold jersey if that can be done. He/she might be donning a green cape or a Reddick luchador mask. I can’t speak to how racially non-specific it should be or to anatomical correctness. I’m sure it can be done. It would be a great acknowledgement of how faithful the hardcore A’s fan is, a kind of olive branch disguised as an in-joke. I’m no marketing genius, but I think it’d be cool. Accessories could be given away at future games. Besides, if the marketing folks have to order these before knowing what will happen with the notoriously volatile A’s roster, a good bet would be one thing Billy Beane can’t trade: a fan.

Yours truly posing with the three straight American League Championship trophies

Yours truly posing with the three straight American League Championship trophies

We talked about a great number of topics including the upper deck tarps, ballpark sites, the Josh Reddick effect, crossing over from being a lifelong fan to working for the team (as both Smith and LaDolce are), what it means to move from an old stadium to a new ballpark, and other matters. They showed me a prototype Green Day trucker hat to be given away at the end of the month, along with a hint about surprise guest they’re hoping to secure in time for the next Star Wars fireworks night. We didn’t talk about costs to produce items, though some of that information can be found elsewhere. I don’t know if our talk or the feedback from this article will effect change. The team has a fan committee that it listens to regularly. Smith and LaDolce were happy to talk to me at length. They read this blog, as do others around the league. Hopefully the kinks can be worked out to a happy medium. Maybe they can institute a ticket system like the kind employed for concert ticket sales or iPhone/iPad launches. There are ways to get these things in the hands of people that really want them. Until then, we’ll keep waiting in line. Thanks to Troy Smith and Travis LaDolce for inviting me into the inner sanctum for a little bit. I’m sure we’ll have more to chat about in due course. Maybe we’ll be talking action figures.


P.S. – The team and bobblehead manufacturers can take months to work on items and still not get them exactly right. Case in point:

83 thoughts on “Talking bobbleheads, giveaways, and expectations

  1. Eric Sogard glasses giveaway!

  2. Good work. This is going to be wordy.

    What I’d like to see the A’s do is try some bobbleheads at 20,000. That’d be roughly in line with what Tampa Bay’s doing with their capacity in mind, and the ballpark situations between the two teams aren’t that different either.

    The larger problem – and this came up the other day on Twitter – is in that certain market of people who only go to get a bobblehead to turn right around and list it on eBay for anywhere from $50-100, often through eBay Mobile before they’ve even left the ballpark.

    I don’t go to many games any more because of where I live, but with the collectible market becoming essentially globalized through eBay in particular, it’s no surprise why people now have to line up hours ahead of time just to be guaranteed something.

    I suppose the STH holder entrance being well-stocked is an incentive to purchase a plan, but there will always be a certain segment of people who are only there to get the special item, or only there to turn around and sell it for profit. Of course, once it’s in their hands they’re free to do what they will with it.

    When I was younger and went to more games, I remember seeing people buy cheap tickets to give to kids, who would get to see a game for free in exchange for giving their bobblehead to the “pimp.” It wasn’t uncommon then to see someone leaving before the game even started with a bag loaded with half a dozen bobbleheads.

    If you search eBay right now for “Coco Lean,” there currently show about a dozen results ranging from bids around $50 to Buy It Now listings up to $100. You can find about 300 that have been sold from $30 up to around $150 or so (some of them signed, some of them combined with the Balfour Rage Gnome, etc.).

    One of the item descriptions mentions a total of $112 spent just to get the bobblehead ($35 ticket, $17 parking, $30 gas and tolls, $30 food, plus 4 hours waiting in the sun) as a justification for asking $75 for the bobblehead. I don’t know how legit that is given the seller’s location of Union City, but s/he sold 4 of them for around $70 apiece. There’s a photo in the listing that shows 15 lined up together. I think that speaks for itself.

    But, that’s the way it is. If you take what’s been sold on eBay it only accounts for 2% of what was given out.

    There are already about 125 Cespedes bobbleheads for sale on eBay, ranging from minimal starting bids up to $100 or more, even higher for some that were autographed. Nearly 50 have already been sold, from about $50 to $85.

    Me, I’d like a couple of those fleece blankets and there are a couple bobbleheads I have, but the hassle of getting down there early to wait in line for hours doesn’t appeal to me. With the logic above, it’s worth it to me to wait for prices to go down a bit on eBay and just buy one that way. That’s what the people who list them are banking on.

    Upping the amount given out will have a trickle-down effect. If you give out 20,000 instead of 15,000, more people who want them will get them and they won’t have to be there hours in advance. There will also be more available for people to sell on eBay and elsewhere, which will in theory lower prices.

    As shown, the Brewers have enough bobbleheads for every fan. I looked up a Hank Aaron one given out about a month and a half ago. eBay shows 235 sold, ranging from $5 to about $25 for just the one. Big shift when supply and demand is that different.

    What about the Giants? We all know how big they are now in the Bay Area. They gave out 40,000 Buster Posey MVP bobbleheads this year and he’s probably the hottest thing going locally. eBay shows about 90 sold, most going for $20 to $30 or so, with some higher outliers.

    Obviously the A’s aren’t giving out 35,000 bobbleheads, especially if they get around 10,000 walkups in the 24 hour period before the game itself. There’s also a break-even point with the budget, and it’s understandable where the amount of money they may have to spend on marketing is less than others with higher ticket prices, more popularity and so on.

    Knowing how desired the collectibles are, it’d be nice to see more people with the chance to get them at the ballpark, but that points to the bigger issue: a smaller STH fanbase and overall attendance total than many other teams can claim. Bump that up and there’s every reason to expect giveaway quantities to increase in the long run.

  3. By the way, I really like the pin collection. My father used to have a frame with a bunch of pins on it that he’d gathered over the years, many from the Reno Air Races, and I got in the habit of trying to buy a pin from every ballpark I’ve been to along with other places like National Parks. They’re small, cheap and easy to get back home.

    It’s interesting to see what ends up being popular overall. Back in the 80s all you really saw was the old, generic ceramic bobbleheads with the same face on them, the same bat or glove pose. Now they’re cheaper plastic things but people will pay high amounts of money for them if they’re “limited” enough.

    I like that the A’s seem committed to trying different things with their giveaways. Every professional sports team has giveaways, in part as an incentive to get casual fans out to the ballpark – probably including ignorant ones that lead to the car fires last night – and if it works to bring somebody back on a day when they don’t get anything more than the game experience, it’s a success.

  4. Finishing the 80s part, I should clarify I meant the bobbleheads only there. I remember when we used to get full-sized bats, even baseball gloves. In fact, I haven’t forgotten getting one of those cheap fake leather gloves when I was 10, sitting in the plaza level with our 20-game STH plan in 1987, and clanking a foul ball Marty Barrett of the Red Sox hit. Took a while before I got my first gamer, and I even eventually caught someone’s first MLB homer (Deivi Cruz).

  5. posted before but many teams now do firework fridays for fri night home games. a’s seem to be getting good crowds for fireworks so maybe that’s something the team could think about doing in the future? i don’t know how much a 15 minute firework show costs?

    as for bobbleheads, yeah they should increase the amount to 20k. though i doubt all the bobbleheads are given out as back in 2010 i went to the season ticket holders party at the end of the year and just as i was leaving the east side club onto the bart overpass they had a stand out there giving away free items and one of the items there was a rickey henderson bobblehead which i quickly snatched up.

  6. @letsgoas: Nice snag on the Rickey Henderson bobble head. I had to wait in line over 2 hours for that one. You’re right though, not all the bobble heads are given away. There’s a small portion set aside for staff. My brother use to get me all the goodies and free tickets when he was an intern from 2007 to 2010.

    I remember back in 2008 I attended a Friday night game against the Twins. I had no idea it was a bobble head game. My buddies and I were tailgating in the parking lot and we didn’t reach the gate until the end of the 2nd inning. To our surprise we were all handed Jack Cust bobble heads. I couldn’t believe the amount of boxes still remaining. That’s the only time I’ve seen a bobble head not gone before first pitch.

  7. I find it vexing when I show up early for a game and walk across the BART bridge to find people walking in the opposite direction with a promotional item in hand and not even staying for at least the first pitch. To that regard I love having the season ticket gate. It means having to walk completely around the outside perimeter but I have been lucky enough to get an item there that were otherwise completely distributed. If they are going to increase supply of promotional items, if I were the A’s marketing department I would increase the supply at the season ticket holders gate and promote it as such, then also not offer the item to the wall up crowd who by the cheapest ticket and blow out. The other option to get people to stay is to pass out a voucher upon entrance and distribute after the 5th inning so that people with stay for at least half of the game.

  8. correction that season ticket holder party i attended at the end of the season was in 2011, not 2010.

    as for making fans stay into the game to make sure they get a bobblehead, nice idea but if the a’s were to give out even 20k bobbleheads if the # does increase in the future i don’t know how they would distribute bobbleheads in the middle of the game especially if it’s a sold out crowd. i can only imagine the arguments and or fights that would occur IN THE STANDS from fans who stayed and didn’t get their bobbleheads when they may see maybe fans in another section close to them get one.

    if that was the plan they’d probably have to make sure EVERYBODY got a bobblehead.

  9. I like the voucher idea. Show it upon leaving, which has to be at least after the 7th inning, get your bobblehead as you go. That would almost single-handedly wipe out the amount of people who just show up to get half a dozen and bounce to get them up on eBay.

    One of the most useful giveaways back in the day – and you’ll never see it done these days for obvious reasons – was an A’s flashlight. I was at a game for this around 1989 or 1990 and I know this because I was living in Alameda at the time. My father dropped me off at the game and said to call him when it was over and he’d come get me.

    I get the flashlight and at some point during the game we got batteries for it as well. Or maybe it was upon entry. Either way, now you can see why that’s a promo of the past.

    Anyway, game ends, I call dad from a pay phone at the Coliseum, call goes to voicemail. I call a couple more times, still no answer, just voicemail. At that point it’s probably around 10:30, 11 PM.

    I ended up walking home.

    Took that frontage road alongside 880 and yes, the flashlight helped me see along a few spots. Called again from a phone on High St just on the Alameda side, collect this time because I was out of change, voicemail again.

    I don’t remember when I got home but it was probably past midnight. Dad fell asleep and forgot to turn the answering machine off, so it didn’t ring enough to wake him. Topping that off, we had to go to church the next morning for my confirmation. I was 12 or 13 depending on what year it was.

    It was about a 4-mile walk at an hour nobody should be out walking. Maybe I could have talked to a police officer or someone at the Coliseum and got a ride, even just had a cab take me home and woke dad up to pay, but at that point I was just kind of scared and wanted dad to pick up the phone.

    So, yeah. That night? Best promo ever.

  10. I wasn’t going to wait around for hours for a doll, threw a nice tailgate party in the parking lot, taking advantage of the 6 PM saturday start.

    I think they should just give a cheaper consolation prize to those that don’t get the bobblehead, like a cespedes cheer card or something, so people feel like they at least got something for coming 2 hours early.

  11. In 2012, they gave out 10,000 Rollie Fingers bobbleheads and 15,000 Scott Hatteberg 20th Win bobbleheads. They also gave out 10,000 of the Coco Crisp Chia Pet things, 10,000 Oakland Oaks caps and 10,000 of the Swingin’ A’s fleece blankets. In fact, the only “collectible” giveaway above 10,000 was the Hatteberg bobblehead unless you count the MLB Network drawstring backpack, and that wasn’t A’s-branded.

    They did give out 20,000 Rickey Henderson bobbleheads in 2011, but 15,000 MC Hammer ones and 10,000 Ray Fosse ones.

    2010? 10,000 each of bobbleheads for Roy Steele, Andrew Bailey and Dallas Braden. Shirts or replica jerseys were 15,000.

    2009? 15,000 Duchscherer & Giambi bobbleheads, while replica jerseys were 10,000.

    That’s as far back as I can find anything on the A’s site for past promotions.

  12. @James V.
    Wow what an experience, I guess you Dad was really bummed that he fell asleep and you did not have a way home. I am sure glad you, nothing happened to you.

  13. @James V sorry “I guess your Dad”

  14. Dad was very apologetic. Probably drunk too, but that was pretty typical.

  15. For about 3 seasons, I’ve been after those picnic blanket giveaways. Finally, at the July 4th vs. CHC, I got them. I probably would’ve lost all hope in humanity if we missed the giveaway on that day because we were among the first cars into the parking lot. The BART strike led to me driving.

    Arriving early and NOT getting the giveaway was becoming a depressing norm.

  16. One of the worst items was a jacket I got against the Milwaukee Brewers, with Dave Beard making a rare start. It was this cheap plastic that ripped when you unbuttoned it, and probably would go up in flames in a heartbeat. It also had a huge 7-Up iron-on patch. My favorite items were a baseball-shaped transitor radio, a regulation size wooden bat that I used in a little league game, and a poker chip set. I love the blankets as well. I think in ’87 or ’88 they’d give out different pins which are worth some good money nowadays.
    Very different for the Chris Wondolowski bobblehead last night. I had to do the sacrilege thing because I couldn’t stay for the game, but my wife and I got there at 5 on the way to Union City and there was no one in line. Grabbed the bobblehead and was on my way.

  17. @Briggs
    “Arriving early and NOT getting the giveaway was becoming a depressing norm.”
    Well my friend, you have given me hope, because like you I have missed out on more giveaways then I care to remember. The last one, being this year against the White Sox, when I missed out on the Cespedes replica jersey. I think my biggest problem, is I always end up going with people, that care fare less about these giveaways, and then I do

  18. I got there about 90, 95 minutes early for the Cespedes replica jersey giveaway. Too late.

  19. @pjk
    Yeah, I got there about seventy minutes early, and of cores I did not get one either. I did however see one guy walking out (leaving early), with three or four of them. Well next time I guess.

  20. I was there at FOUR for the reddick jersey and did not get one 😦 I’ll just blame Sawx fans.

  21. I always try to get to the ballpark early, at the moment the gates open, to watch batting practice, etc. Generally, I’m really pissed if I encounter give-away lines. The original black Giants fedora is the only exception. I like that hat. Worth the wait.

  22. I happened to be at the Reggie Jackson BH game and went a little early and barely got one. They were on the last case. I was disappointed to see some people that were showing up and grabbing like multiple BH’s and then taking off while they were on their cell phones telling someone that they got them and they were on their way home. I mean you are already there, watch the game!!! For me to go to a game, I have to plan a trip and these people just blow the game off as if it is no big deal.
    I actually still have my Sal Bando bat that I got on Bat day, I think in 1971. The lettering will need to be redone at some point as is a little faded, just glad that it was not misplaced over the years. BTW , I like the button sets they are giving out this season.

  23. Looks like the A’s are going to need some more of those bobbleheads to get fans in the stands. With both the Giants and A’s at home tonight, here’s the attendance figures:
    * Playoff-contending A’s – 11,112
    * Hopelessly out-of-contention, last-place Giants – 41,585
    …Meanwhile, Selig continues to do nothing about the A’s ballpark situation because he wants to be “fair” to the Giants. OK

  24. @pjk

    The Giants was playing the Red Sox, how many A’s I mean Giants fans was watching the BoSOx in town tonight?

  25. Mike2: The Giants would have drawn that much if the Bakersfield Blaze were the opponent. The notion that Selig wants to be fair to the Giants while the A’s are doing so poorly at the gate is laughable.

  26. The Giants have nearly 30,000 season ticket holders. The A’s have around 10k. That’s the difference.

  27. @pjk
    * Playoff-contending A’s – 11,112
    * hopelessly out-of-contention, last-place Giants – 41,585
    Man, this is interlay unacceptable, there are a lot of different reasons for this, and we have talked at nauseam about the deferent moving parts, and all the players in this soap opera. I have defended Oakland/Alameda Co. on many occasions, but at the end of the day, the City of Oakland bares the bulk of the responsibility.

  28. @ML.
    Giants season ticket holders 30,000 + 11,585 =41,585
    A’s season ticket holders 10,000 + 1,112=11,112
    It’s just a shame, even if the A’s attendance improves marginally, all that does is reduce the revenue sharing checks, they receive from MLB, but if it was higher, it would at least show MLB, there was progress.

  29. @Lakeshore: Ya gotta remember that not all season tickets are for the full 81 home games.

    The A’s could win the World Series this season (knock on wood) and still struggle to draw 11k on certain nights in 2014. Personally, I don’t fault Alameda County, or the Giants. The A’s are a business and the buck stops with them. They’ve had 45 years to build up their brand image but alas, we are where we are.

  30. Briggs: What more are the A’s supposed to do? They are situated in a market that has never quite latched on to them. If the market doesn’t really want the product, it’s not the A’s fault. Even when the stadium was considered one of the better ones and the team was winning the World Series, attendance was usually not very good (1974- win World Series, in the bottom two or three in attendance.) Perhaps it’s time for a change of scenery? Charlie Finley only needed a few seasons to regret moving the team to Oakland.

  31. @Briggs
    Very good points, I am so made at so many people, reading this situation, I sometimes rotate, who I am made at the most. There is enough blame to go around. I am not a conspiracy theorist, but Wolff has done just enough, to make some of these wild accusations seem plausible. Even before this ownership group, the A’s have done a pitiful job of marketing themselves, I have said many times, the Giants do a better job of marketing in the east bay, then the A’s do. It’s simply pathetic.

  32. There’s that “bad marketing” business again – to place blame for decades of poor attendance on the owners instead of on the market just not being much into baseball. And the media has always given more attention to the Giants, because the team plays in the more glamorous city. The A’s are an afterthought. Just this morning, the KFOX announcer mentioned that in sports tonight, the Giants are playing the Red Sox. What about the playoff-contending A’s? No mention of them. Is that the A’s owners’ fault, too?

  33. @pjk – I’m thinking that the opening of Royals Stadium in 1973 had some to do with that.

  34. I’ve mentioned this before: During the A’s World Series runs in the 1970s, I was living 3,000 miles away but knew all about the A’s colors, gimmicks, personalities and of course the winning. Yet the A’s finished in the bottom half of attendance every one of those World Series-winning years. Now was the owners and their “poor marketing” or the market just not being all that great for baseball?

  35. “If the market doesn’t really want the product, it’s not the A’s fault.”
    @pjk: It’s absolutely the A’s fault if their target consumers aren’t interested in their product. They’re an entertainment business. Their product doesn’t entertain enough people. It’s as simple as that. Winning isn’t the end-all-be-all of drawing customers. Teams sell nostalgia, history, tradition, spectacle among other things, and those are probably more important to the casual fan than winning/losing seasons.

    I want to see the A’s succeed competitively and financially, but it starts with them and what they offer their prospective fans. I appreciate $2 tickets and all that stuff— but the numbers don’t lie. $2 tickets doesn’t mean that much to the fan that decides to pay $20 for standing-room-only at AT&T Park.

  36. @pjk/all

    Wolff is not to blame for everything, not by a long shot but, I don’t think you’re not being reasonable if you don’t include him with the cast of clowns, that has this franchise, where it is, you talk about attendance, and that’s a factor, and a big one, but, as you know the Giants had years, and years of bad attendance, before the got out of candlestick. There have been a lot of reasons, why we are in the situation, whether it be the City of Oakland, county of Alameda, politicians past and present, Brown obviously comes to mind, the man that sits in the commissioner’s office, from his “Oakland was a mistake” comment, to tableting a vote that would have sold the team I think in 94 (could be wrong about the year), to an ownership group, that probably would have tried harder to build in Oakland, to the Giants organization, whom seems to stop at nothing to not only keep the A’s out of San Jose, but would really like them out if the Bay Area altogether, its really interesting that they faver Oakland, now that the A’s may actually get the south bay, when at that time the fought to table that vote, meaning they did not want the A’s to build in their designated territory, you know that same territory they claim A’s must build in today. There have been so many players, and moving parts, that I could not even come up with them all. Now, you may say Wolff has every right to move the team, after all he owns it, and he has ample proof that he may do better in SJ. But I believe your fooling yourself, if you think he is not partly to blame, as to why the team is not doing better finically.

    1.Wolff said years before he became a partner in the ownership group, that he would only look at San Jose.
    2. He trapped off seats at the coliseum, I know this would not make an impact on the bottom line, but you can’t on one hand take away seats, and then cry over declining attendance.
    3. When he came up with a so called plan in Oakland, it was nearly imposable to implement, because, there where to many business owners that would be displaced, and as I recall he demanded a new BART station be built to accommodate it.
    4. Publically chided the fan base, and his host city.
    5. Refuses to talk to host city, shoots down any idea, as unreasonable.

  37. Briggs: You can lead a horse to water. Didn’t Dave Stewart make a comment about Oakland being a football own? I think he had kind of an inside view of he situation. The A’s owners, knowing they won’t get a publicly funded stadium in the Bay Area, want to move 35 miles where they know they have a much better chance of making a privately funded facility work. But the Giants, who know full well the obstacles of privately funding a ballpark and the challenges in the A’s current location, want to confine the A’s to their current location.

  38. 1.Wolff said years before he became a partner in the ownership group, that he would only look at San Jose.

    …Then why did he propose the north-of-the-Coliseum project and then spend millions trying to go to Fremont, if he’d only look at San Jose? Do you think Selig recruited Wolff to get a ballpark done in the A’s current territory or to take on the Giants’ territorial “rights?” Which was it?

    2. He tarped off seats at the coliseum, I know this would not make an impact on the bottom line, but you can’t on one hand take away seats, and then cry o declining attendance.

    A’s attendance last night: 11,000 and some change. Available seats (untarped seats) about 35,000. Tens of thousands of available seats despite tarping.

    5. Refuses to talk to host city, shoots down any idea, as unreasonable.

    …What’s the point of talking to Oakland if it expects the A’s to pay for a ballpark with their own money even if it’s not going to work out financially? How much $$ has Oakland ever offered for new ballpark construction? $0.00.

  39. The gnats 30,000 season tickets may be a result of over-support because the gnats have historically been an unstable franchise in SF. Many gnats fans may be overcompensating their support for the team because they don’t want a repeat of ’92 – when the A’s ranked 3rd in MLB attendance and the gnats gave up locally and sold to the Tampa owners group. We’ll see how the gnats (likely bandwagon support) continues if the team continues to dwell in the basement of the NL West.

  40. @pjk
    It’s cool man, I appreciate your passion, and thoughtful insight. I guess, I just fill like you’re looking at the A’s situation through one lens. Vialled counter points, I don’t think any of us have the answers, I am only saying that Wolff himself is partly to blame, and yes there is a problem when you only draw 11,000, but what happens to the average attendance figures when you sell out, those what is it 35,067 seats and there are many other people that would come if the seats where available. You drive down the average, then complain that it’s not high enough, and don’t tell me the A’s have only have 6, 7, 11 sellouts, this year does not matter, bottom line if the tarps were off the average attendance would be higher, that is indisputable, look I am not saying it would have made a big difference, I know it would not have , but there was a reason that the commissioner told the A’s that have to take down the tarps if they went any further in the playoffs, because they knew that they would sell more tickets. I think you’re a bit off base if you believe Wolff’s hands are clean in all of this.

  41. Lakeshore: All we ever is how the owners are to blame for the poor attendance. The next time we see a Bay Area columnist write about how the East Bay market has rarely been good for MLB (instead of the usual those-owners-are-evil-rich-men nonsense) will be the first time. I did hear one national columnist on the radio point out how the A’s have never drawn well in Oakland. Even with Hall of Famers like Reggie Jackson, Catfish Hunter, etc, attendance has never been what it should have been. Seven times above the median attendance in 45 years and we’re supposed to just keep looking for fault with the owners instead of examining the entire situation? The rich owners are convenient bad guys, I guess.

  42. @pjk
    Hay, your right the rich are convenient bad guys, I agree with you. In my book Wolff is not a conveniently bad guy, I don’t fault anyone for being rich, this is America, get as much as you can. I am not blaming him because he is rich, and I am certainly not blaming him alone. I have said may times, and in this post, that there is plenty of blame to go around. He is one of many, and not because he is rich, I am not even say the guy is half at fault, or a quarter, it’s hard to quantify, but he has done a number of things, that have not helped his team finically, in the east bay, did he do those things on purpose to help his case with the other owners? I don’t know it’s pretty convent on his part though.

  43. Maybe Wolff should raise ticket prices – that might help him financially. Wolff actually has done everything possible to squeeze as much attendance out of the A’s situation as he can: Rock bottom prices, winning team, great giveaways, fireworks shows, free parking nights. And all he has to show for it is the 25th-highest attendance. Once again – there’s lots and lots and lots of focus on what owners might have done wrong but little to none on the East Bay just not being a great MLB market.

  44. For giveaways, I wish the A’s would offer the option the Giants do–that for a certain amount of money per year, a season ticket holder can get every promotional item. I would definitely sign up for that–I’m getting tired of arriving at the hours and hours before a game to get a bobblehead (as much as I like them). Have you ever heard the A’s suggest offering this option?

  45. @pjk: The A’s are an entertainment company. They sell baseball fun. People aren’t interested in their baseball fun. The A’s want to make money the same way a movie producer wants to make money.

    The Lone Ranger movie flopped at the Box Office. Is it YOUR fault that the movie lost money? Hell no. It’s the producers’ fault.

    I’m not saying the A’s aren’t trying. They are but trying isn’t the same thing as succeeding.

    Regarding the East Bay not being a good baseball market? Sure it is. They do a great job supporting the Giants.

  46. re: They do a great job supporting the Giants.

    …For some reason, East Bay people would rather support the team from glamorous Frisco than they would the team in their backyard. I had some Contra Costa County folks trying to proselytize me about the Giants a few months ago. It’s similar to how so many New Jersey residents are New York Rangers fans instead of rooting for, you know, the New Jersey Devils.

  47. re: The Lone Ranger movie flopped at the Box Office. Is it YOUR fault that the movie lost money? Hell no. It’s the producers’ fault.

    …it’s the same situation as the A’s. Producers offered what is supposed to be a good product, but nobody wanted to buy it. Just like A’s tickets.

  48. @pjk
    The East Bay market does hold its challenges, but Lew is one of many reasons why it hasn’t been as good as it can be. He has done plenty of things to help attendance? The case could be made that, at the same time he has sabotaging it, in an effort to get the big prize San Jose. I personally think the east bay can be a good market, if the right people have the support to maximize its potential, unfortunately there have been a comedy of errors over the years, and we will probably never see that happen. There are a number of reasons for this, we agree on most of them, you say people only want to blame the rich owner, and nothing ells, you seem to want to blame everything, but the rich owner. I think your being a bit of a Lew apologist.

    “Regarding the East Bay not being a good baseball market? Sure it is. They do a great job supporting the Giants”.
    That was really funny, I will catch you good people on ML’s next post, have a good one.

  49. re: but Lew is one of many reasons why it hasn’t been as good as it can be.

    …Let’s forever keep the focus on the owners, owners, owners. Wouldn’t want to do a thorough examination of the problem; the default strategy is – blame the owners.

    re: I personally think the east bay can be a good market, if the right people have the support to maximize its potential,

    …45 seasons, 16 playoff appearances, 6 American League titles, 4 World Series titles, 7 seasons above the median attendance. ‘Nuff said.

  50. Have you guys thought for any second that the Oakland/SF areas area are over saturated with sports and recreational activities. No one has ever discussed this with great detail on this blog. How many college and professional games (mens and womens)are there are on any given night in the Bay Area. Just because there are x amount of ppl living in the area and its the x largest media market does not make an area capable of supporting two teams in the same professional league equally.

    What makes NYC, LA, and Chicago different from the Bay Area is size. LA county alone has over 10 million compared to 7 million for the entire Bay Area. Chicago has 5 million ppl living in Cook County, NYC has over 18 million ppl in the tri state area.

    We get caught up in the attendance figures, historical records, the other guys stadiums. Maybe it’s time to accept the fact that Bay Area is not a two team market as it currently stands. In football and baseball SF teams will always be the #1 teams in the Bay Area no matter what the teams records are.

    • @Mike2 – We used to talk about it a lot, especially when BizJournals ran their franchise financial support index. While the Bay Area is smaller than the other two-team markets and barely larger the size of the largest one-team markets (Boston, Philadelphia), it’s not a question since there is more than enough disposable income to support the various pro franchises here. If anything it’s college sports that take the brunt because of the focus on pro sports. If there’s an issue of oversaturation, it’s within the East Bay itself.

  51. And the Yankees and NY Giants will always be #1 in the NY area, the Cubs will always be #1 in Chicago, the Dodgers will always be #1 in LA. Should we get rid of the other teams in those markets?

  52. @mike2,
    MLB “recently” made Baltimore/WashDC a two-team market, and their pop is roughly the same as the Bay Area (8 millionish). Heck, Camden Yards and Nationals Park are closer together then AT&T Park and a hypothetical Cisco Field at Diridon SJ. Bay Area population and corporate wealth not the problem here (never has been).

  53. @Tony D

    I lived in the Baltimore area for several years. DC and Baltimore are two separate sports markets. There is enough ppl and corporate support from the surrounding cities to justify two teams playing that close to each other.

    The Bay Area has to include cities like SJ, Oakland, SF, SC and Monterey to be on even par with the population numbers that other metro areas have sorry but its true.

  54. @ML

    Since we are talking disposable income are we including people who live in SJ and Monterey since both cities are included as being part of the Bay Area’s shared terriory? I am pretty sure you don’t have ppl from Monterey going to all 81 Giants/A’s home games each year.

    The point that I was trying to make with my population argument is the fact that the Bay Area is more spread out compared to other two team markets. The other locations have a higher population density per square mile. The Bay Area has over 7K square miles name two other MLB teams that play in area that size.

  55. @ Mike2 You bring up some intresting thoughts, I have not looked this up, so I am not sure, perhaps ML, or someone else can help but, If you take the NY or LA metro, they really could support 3 MLB teams, but that wont happen, because those teams will scream like the Giants. Chicago metro has about 9.5 mill, the Bay Area has about 8.2mill (Bay County) but Sacramento area is just to the north 2.0 mill , and Fresno to the south at 1.8 mill, that would be a total of about 12 mill in a three hour radious, and I think Boston (braves), Phily (our A’s), were also 2 team markets at one time.

  56. …And there’s enough ppl and corporate support from the surrounding cities HERE to justify two teams playing in the same market. Been that way since 1968, and the Bay Area has only gotten larger and richer, and its still growing. Heck, I’d bet that the corporate wealth of the Bay Area is greater than that of Baltimore/Wash, and whether one region has 7 or 8 million residents is negligible when it comes to supporting two MLB franchises. Again, the population and wealth of the Bay Area is NOT the issue here.

  57. @Lakeshore,
    Yes! NYC and LA could easily support THREE MLB franchises. Won’t happen for the reason you stated AND because you would need to create entirely new fan bases where loyalties are already rooted.

  58. So Mike2,
    What’s the magic number for a region to be able to support TWO MLB franchises. Is it 8 million? 7? Do I hear 6 million? Point is that the Bay Area just happens to be the “smallest” of the two-team markets, with Balt/Wash coming in at a close second. Not a big deal IMHO. Give it a few years and the Bay will be where Chicago is today. Again, a non-issue…

  59. @ Mike2 I did not realize ML was basicaly making that point, the Bay Area, and outling areas have a large population, citys back east cant cover that type of space, because before you know it you are in someone else’s teritory.

  60. @lakeshore,
    Disposable income is just as important as population density/number of folks living in a certain area when it comes to supporting franchises. This is where the Bay easily matches up with the Chicago’s and Balt/Wash’s of the world..

  61. @Tony

    Market size, location, distance from entertainment venues, disposable incomes, other social activities: How does that not factor into Oakland’s attendance issues. When you look at the shared territory of the Bay Area from SF to Monterey where is most of the wealth vs population located at? That does play a small part in why one team does better than the other team in attendance. If the A’s move to SJ maybe things will change because they will be able to draw fans from a new fanbase.

  62. @ Mike 2 your probably corret, about the San Jose thing. I am a big Oakland east bay person, but I think if the A’s get San Jose, I dought most people across the contry, will wonder if the San Francisco Bay Area can support two teams. I think both teams could get beteen 32-38,000 a game.

  63. @Mike2 I think you could get between 32-38, for both teams at this moment, if things were done the right way in Oakland, but you would still miss the big money the south bay, could provide if the A’s where down there.

  64. Mike2 – the bay area is a 7.2 mil. fanbase 7.2 mil./2 = 3.8 mil. per team (which is way larger than many MLB fanbases, and way bigger than Portland, Las Vegas, Sac, etc. The bay area can support 2 teams.

  65. @Mike2 I found the information I was looking for, I looked up combined statistical area, as appose to metropolitan area, which does not always include all 9 Bay Area counties, and outlying areas, which includes nearly 8.4 million people, and growing faster than many metro areas back east. To your point, about population, wealth, and square miles, doesn’t explain, by itself why the A’s attendance suffers, there are a lot of reasons for that, but the Bay Area should be able to support both MLB teams.

  66. I want a Port of Oakland crane bobblehead

  67. @lakeshore

    Lets go one step further. A gallop poll a few years ago said 53% of fans in the US are baseball fans. So using your numbers and applying them to the Bay Area only 4.3 million ppl in the Bay Area like baseball. The Bay Area does support baseball with close to 5 million attending games last season, but the Giants last year was able to attract 68% of the available baseball fans to their games. Now even this year with a last place Giants team and a first/second place A’s team the Giants are still outdrawing the A’s by a 2-1 margin. Season ticket holders, stadium conditions, location, ownership groups, disposable income of fans, the willingness to fight traffic to attend games, etc all play a factor on why one team draws more than the other. How often we as A’s fans only see sellouts during promotions, fireworks, or when the Giants, Yankees, and Red Sox are in town? Is this more indicative of the fan base or are fans in the Bay Area really deep down SF fans?

    The point I was trying to get across is: where are the fans from each team coming from and what are their disposable incomes. I get the fact the Bay Area is the fastest growing metro area with the largest disposable income, but that does not mean that all 8 million plus ppl like baseball and are willing to spend money to support both teams.It’s easy to lump an entire area as one and say mine is bigger than yours (sorry), but we need to learn the economics of where most of the fan support comes from.

    Where do the 11K-22K die-hard A’s fans come from? Same with the Giants; do a small but significant part of their fans actually do come from SJ? If so you can see why the Giants will not give up SJ without a fight.

  68. @Mike2 I totally agree with you, I have said before, I think the Giants deep down, real fear in the A’s moving to San Jose is that over time, the Giants could be boxed in. The South Bay has been waiting years to get behind something like this. I dont know the numbers, but say only 43% of the South Bay are baseball fans, and out of that number the Giants hold a 65%-35% edge, well when the A’s get to SJ, that 43% goes up to your 53% and with the A’s in the South Bay, they flip it to their advantage 65%-35% over the Giants. Then we look at the East Bay, the Giants will gain some new fans, but the A’s will keep 75%-85% of their fan base in the East Bay, then we look north, this has been a stronghold, for the Giants for years, but that has started to change, with the A’s triple A team in Sacto. If the A’s get the riches of the South Bay, they will hold most of the East Bay, and have a good chance of taking in time a larger part Norther California/Sac area. I said the Bay Area could support two MLB teams, but you are correct we cant simply split the 8.4 million down the middle, and call it good. If 85% of the baseball fans, in that area only support one of thoes teams, for whatever the reason’s, then it is indeed a one team market.

  69. The Giants mgt. has a big time inferiority complex (likely because their chief rivals, the A’s and Dodgers – have been far more successful than the giants historically. The Giants also have a history of instability. They attempted a move to SJ (and were wisely rejected by SJ voters!)They later gave up on the bay area and attempted selling the team so that it would move to Tampa, FL.

    Their so-called 65%-35% edge in the south bay is bogus. When Lurie attempted selling the giants to the Tampa Group, there were likely more A’s fans in the south bay then gnats fans. The A’s were 3rd in MLB attendance at the time, and the giants were an average, obscure team. It was a minor news story in the south bay when the giants’ owners announced that they sold the team to the Tampa Bay group.

    The giants mgt should indeed be called out for their meddling with the A’s and attempting to block the A’s from moving to SJ. The giants mgt’s actions are unprecedented (no other pro sports teams have been such poor sports as the giants have demonstrated to be with the way they are attempting to hose the A’s) the giants’ activities would be illegal in the business world – The giants mgt. is bad news.

  70. @dufferMike2 I said, I did not know what the numbers where. I think its safe to say, that at this moment in time, the Giants hold most of the South Bay baseball, market. If that is not correct, then there are a lot of South Bay A’s fans that are watching the A’s on TV, perhaps they will show up to the games, if/when we get a new park in SJ.

  71. @duffer/Mike2
    It’s easy to look at one year of attendance, or a snap shot in time (the bash brothers teams), but I think what Mike is getting at, is no matter how large an area is (Bay Area statistical area 8.4 million), if one team the Giants are dominating the baseball market, they in effect have made it a one team market. The question is how do the A’s take back, or gain market share. Can they do this by moving to the South Bay, the answer to that question, is probably a resounding yes. I think under the right conditions, they can do it in Oakland/East Bay; there are some that don’t hold this view, and that’s ok. I guess the point is our baseball team is being squeezed out of the Bay Area, (what should be a two team market), the reasons are many, and so very complex, but what are they, (the A’s) going to do about it?, what is MLB going to do about it?, what are we (the fans), going to do about it?, I think we all know what the Giants organization is going to do about it.

  72. @ Lakeshore/Neil – good observation, though Mike2’s argument appears to be that the bay area is a one MLB team market only ( even though demographic stats demonstrate that is wrong) Also, Mike2 appears to believe the giants’ owners attempts at squeezing the A’s out of the bay or marginalizing the A’s is ok. When in fact, how the giants are attempting to shaft the A’s is unprecedented in a two team fanbase situation. The NY Yankees/Mets, Angels/Dodgers, Cubs/Chisox aren’t attempting to sue their rival out of town, or stop the other team from building a new ballpark as the giants are attempting to accomplish with the A’s. Even the Raiders/Niners organizations appear to get along much better than the A’s and Giants do – justifying the giants owners’ bad business practices is b.s.

  73. re:
    re: When in fact, how the giants are attempting to shaft the A’s is unprecedented in a two team fanbase situation. The NY Yankees/Mets, Angels/Dodgers, Cubs/Chisox aren’t attempting to sue their rival out of town, or stop the other team from building a new ballpark as the giants are attempting to accomplish with the A’s.

    …All this is correct. The Giants disingenuously want to keep the A’s in Oakland, where the Giants know full well the A’s won’t get the private or public funding needed for a new stadium. So what will happen? The A’s get contracted or moved, eventually. And the Giants win big time. All while East Bay and Frisco columnists continue to make heroes out out of the Giants owners and villains out of the A’s owners.

  74. @duffer /Mike2/pjk
    Thanks, for the input (duffer,pjk). If Mike2 was suggesting that the San Francisco Bay Area, is or should only be a one team market, I don’t agree with him on that point, and I did not really get this from what he was saying, but if he also believes the attempts by the Giants organization, to sabotage the A’s at every turn, is somehow ok, then I don’t agree with him on that point either. I was trying to take what he was saying in the most positive light, and trying to be contusive with it. It’s not always the easiest thing to discern the inferences (a little Marsha Clark there), or meaning, when we are all writing our thoughts down. I will say this, I respect the Giants fan base, and I really appreciate people like xoot, that comet regularly , and constructively here, but the Giants Organization its self, I have nothing, but distant for the way they have set out, to systematically destroy (in my view) a charter member of their own sport.

  75. re: I have nothing, but distant for the way they have set out, to systematically destroy (in my view) a charter member of their own sport.

    …All while Bud Selig sits back and does nothing to stop the Giants. He asks the two teams to sit down and work out their differences – like asking a runner and catcher to work out whether the runner was safe or not. There won’t be any middle ground between the A’s and Giants, and rather than make the tough decisions, Bud does what he does best – absolutely nothing.

  76. I found my Mother’s cookies cards in a box in the attic just a couple weeks ago

  77. “I will say this, I respect the Giants fan base, and I really appreciate people like xoot, that comet regularly , and constructively here, but the Giants Organization its self, I have nothing, but distant for the way they have set out, to systematically destroy (in my view) a charter member of their own sport.”

    I put full blame on the entire Bay Area media for not really covering and exposing the selfish behavior of the Giants. The Giants’ attitude is severely trying to undermine and keep at a disadvantage the other Bay Area MLB team(the A’s), and thus could ultimately force the A’s to eventually have to move out of the Bay Area altogether.

    As for the ongoing inaction by Selig to a possible move of the A’s to San Jose, it is all about maintaining the status quo as being the best course of action on this issue. IMO, Selig very much wants for the Giants to maintain the entire San Francisco Peninsula and Santa Clara County as exclusively Giants territory. By not allowing for the A’s to possibly move to any of these more lucrative areas of their market, it serves only to maintain the competitive dominance of the Giants within the shared Bay Area market. Also, by not taking any action on this matter, the status quo will in effect continue to benefit the Giants at the expense of the A’s.

    Shame on the San Francisco media! The media is in effect undermining and hurting the A’s, and over the long haul detrimental to MLB within the entire Bay Area.

    As for Selig, he is obviously going counter to the best interests of both MLB in general, and Bay Area MLB in particular.

  78. Agree, llpec, it is a crazy situation (along with Selig and the giants mgt) When a municipality – especially a large one such as San Jose – seeks a sports franchise – the municipality typically gets their wish. Judging the opinions of some legal experts and even a member of the SCOTUS – the MLB ATE (and its territorial rights privilege especially)is in trouble. The SJ vs MLB case may give the SCOTUS the opportunity to finally overturn the MLB ATE. The arrogance of Selig and the giants taking on the SCOTUS and the city of San Jose – unprecedented and likely to fail.

  79. @lakeshore

    I don’t believe the Giant’s forcing the A’s out of the Bay area is ok. I think you took my comment of if x% of your fan base comes from SJ out of context. We all know the Giants have outdrawn and grown their fanbase since AT@T has opened #’s don’t lie and I don’t need to repeat them here.

    I for one am hoping SJ wins the lawsuit and MLB’s AT laws become obsolete. A move to SJ is the only way to keep the team in the Bay Area so they can grow a new fanbase while keeping a few of the diehards from the east bay. The Montréal Athlétisme just looks and sounds wrong if this team moves out of the Bay. (j/k)

  80. @Mike2 its cool, I did not think thats what you ment. as I said to duffer and pjk, its not always easy to understand the contect, of what someone is writeing. Thats why I said if “Mike2 fills this way”

  81. this:

    “The easy thing to say is to order 30-35,000 right off the bat. Because of the team’s limited marketing budget, 35,000 bobbleheads would’ve negatively impacted some other promotional day, potentially getting rid of a promotion altogether.”

    what’s the cost to the A’s of getting “stuck” w/ 5,000-10,000 bobbleheads? How much does this really impact their “limited” marketing budget (you can bet the giant’s marketing budget could withstand that hit!). What’s the cost compared to 10,000 disgruntled, paying fans.

    it’s this type of poor marketing of a profitable enterprise that diminishes their fan support, which reinforces the “need” to move. spend money to make money, and not just on tarps!

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