FanFest 2014 – Making the best of it

The A’s sold 20,000 tickets to FanFest this year, double the number of last year’s total. Not wanting to put too much strain on the concourses, the team announced a cutoff at 20k and considered it a sellout. Yes, the event was to be held in both the stadium and arena, but as the even larger lines this year showed, the facilities strain when trying to accommodate people on the concourses instead of the seats.

While the player introductions continue to be held inside Oracle Arena, most of the rest of the festivities took place inside the Coliseum, particularly the Eastside Club. Lines for autographs and photos with the World Series trophies stretched through the length of the club and along the concourse outside the club. If you were there solo, chances were that you wouldn’t be able to get both a picture with the trophies and an autograph unless you waited in line the entire time. Yet the use of the club was important since it’s the only space in the entire stadium that has enough space to handle such lines. The old, rain-soaked part of the Coliseum has terribly narrow concourses, and there were leaks in the Westside Club and elsewhere in the bowels. While I was just walking around, I happened upon the batting cage and heard constant dripping on the Astroturf inside the netting. There was even a garbage can set up next to the netting to catch additional rainwater. The whole experience felt a bit like rain delay theater, which is something California baseball fans are generally not familiar with.

As a media member, I’m not allowed to get autographs, so I didn’t bother trying. A handful of bloggers, including me, hung out for the first couple hours before we were whisked to one of the centerfield plaza suites. The suite had a green A’s backdrop in front of the fixed seats and was ready to serve as our interview room. Our interview subjects were David Forst, Bob Melvin, Jim Johnson, and Sonny Gray, in that order. I asked questions of everyone, but I really wanted to have Forst field a question germane to the the $ side of running the A’s. So here’s our exchange.

NBP: How much did the influx of national TV money have an impact on Coco’s extension, the payroll for this year, and perhaps the next several years?

Forst: There’s no doubt that payroll this year will be higher than, well, probably ever. We’re significantly above where we were last year. That’s what allowed us to get Jim (Johnson), knowing that there’d be $10 million price tag on him. To sign Kaz (Scott Kazmir), even a move like signing Eric O’Flaherty, where you’re only adding a little for this year but we’ve already bumped up against our number. Lew Wolff and Mike Crowley were open to what we were trying to do with Eric for half a season and backload the money. So there’s no doubt that whether it’s TV money, the success of the team – all these things have gone into ownership being very willing to let us do some things this season that we wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.

NBP: You guys were so clear in the past about not having long-term commitments – whether that’s happenstance or a philosophical belief.

Forst: It’s a little bit of both. We’ve benefited from a lot of flexibility over the past few years. There’s re-signing Coco, but other than Yoenis and Kaz there’s nobody signed past 2015. Look, we don’t necessarily want to recreate the team every year – because fans like the players that are here and we like the certainty of players that we know – that we’ve given ourself the ability to do it is a huge factor in our success. With Coco we know the guy, we know the player, we know that this is the right dollar amount to commit to him over the next few years.

Melvin continues to be a solid, honest interview, and Jim Johnson lived up to his reputation for dry humor. Sonny Gray still seems like a kid, as he was spinning in his chair while waiting to be interviewed. Youth is served, and the team certainly has gotten younger since October.

19 thoughts on “FanFest 2014 – Making the best of it

  1. Had some coworkers from SJ who were in attendance at fan fest (I unfortunately had other family commitments to attend to). Good to see A’s fans from around the Bay giving our team the love they deserve.

  2. FanFest needs to be better organized next year. There was a massive line snaking between the Oracle and Coliseum that most people had no idea what it was for. Some people thought it was to get into the Oracle for player introductions. Others thought it was to get into the Coliseum for autographs. Anyway, I skipped the giant line and went into the Oracle for player intros, then came back out. The massive line was still there and not really moving. I got into the Coliseum through the Luxury Suite entrance after a minimal wait bypassing the huge lines by Gates C & D. I suspect many of those fans wanted to see the player intros but didn’t realize they could’ve just walked into the Oracle.

  3. Is it “the” Oracle now? Seems very SoCal to put unnecessary “the’s” in front of things.

  4. It’s always been “the Coliseum” and “the Stick”, and it’s primarily “the arena” in San Jose unless you’ve kept up with the Compaq/HP/SAP changes.

  5. There’s “The Garden” in Boston and NYC. The cross pollination of regional dialects is just something we have have to deal with. Someone with a Tidewater accent might call it “Thoracle.”

  6. Overall, it looked like a fun things for the kid fans. Tommy Malone was very approachable. Coco was causually cruising through the West Side Club. Lines for Josh Donaldson’s signature were only 9 or 10 fans deep around noon. We were mainly there for the Clubhouse tour, which was ok. My favorite part was seeing their buletin board with ancient looking print-outs informing players, “RE: Direct Deposit– If you’ve changed banks etc., contact Pamela in Accounting….” I just find it amusing that on top of performing in front of thousands nightly, they also have to deal with the same work stuff most everyone else does too.

  7. For the record, the A’s haven’t relocated to San Jose ONLY because of the existence of the Giants territorial rights. It’s NOT because Oakland is “viable” or can “work out.” As the photos and testimony above prove, the A’s are still in the same leaking, sewage belching, concrete edifice that they were in 20 years ago (the beginnings of the retro ballpark revolution). A new ballpark for our A’s hasn’t happened in Oakland, nor will it ever happen in Oakland. Seriously, 20+ @$!#& years…

  8. ^^^

    It’s now an official comment thread.

  9. @Tony D.
    Yeah that’s probably a fairly accurate statement, but “For the record”, I guess that would be, what your official record, watch out man, let’s not sound too much like the Oakland-Only folks.

  10. @ Briggs,

    My apologies for appearing to open a can of worms with my above comment. I did base some of my thought on the above testimony by RM (rain, tight concourses, leaks, etc.), so it’s not like I simply went “OT” like we do many times here. I will however counter BS when it’s presented on this forum, even if it does necessitate going “OT” at times. Can’t wait for the day when we can truly officially comment on… (some day all, some day)

  11. I’m just teasing ya, Tony D. One of these days when a new ballpark finally does open, we’re all gonna have to chip in and get ML a suite for a game.

  12. @Briggs I am down for that.

  13. re: One of these days when a new ballpark finally does open, we’re all gonna have to chip in and get ML a suite for a game.

    …and chip in for a flight to San Antonio or Portland, too.

  14. @pjk That was really good, I will chip in for a flight on Southwest.

  15. Well the A’s drew 20,000 to the FanFest, which is double what they got last year, for an A’s fan thats looking for any good news (off the field), I will be happy to start there.

  16. Well the A’s drew 20,000 to the FanFest, which is double what they got last year, for an A’s fan thats looking for any good news (off the field), I will be happy to start there.

  17. @pjk,
    You’re a funny guy as well. A’s Fan Fest should indefinitely in the Bay Area; no need to ever book a flight on Southwest.
    @ Briggs,
    Just think; there’s a point in the future where we will no longer be commenting on this blog. Heck, this site won’t even need to exist. That time is out there…
    I believe Mr. Wolff will cover the suite part of RM’S ballpark future 😉

  18. Due to so many of these comments straying severely off topic, they will be deleted and the thread closed.

  19. The A’s over/under on wins is 86.5 for 2014….for some odd reason it’s the same as the Giants.

    Bet heavy on the over for the A’s…..95-100 win season otw.

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