Another sign controversy

It all started a few weeks ago, when the Oakland Fan Pledge guys reported that they had to take down their sign at a game. Was this a technicality at work, or the A’s putting the hammer on signs they don’t agree with? Since then, it appears that the takedowns have been more frequent. Sign makers are crying First Amendment violations, while defenders of the takedowns say that A’s games are private functions. Of course, they’re held in a publicly-funded venue, so there’s a gray area here*. This fans-with-signs vs. management battle has gone on for decades, and it has never failed to make management look bad. Let’s look at the A’s sign policy.

Banners and Signs:

Management reserves the right to remove any signs or banners at any time. Each sign and banner must comply with the guest code of conduct. Signs and banners may be displayed at games as long as:

• They do not obstruct the sight line of another guest

• They are not larger than 3′ tall x 6′ wide

• They are not in the field of play.

• They do not cover up any existing signage.

• They are not commercial in nature.

• They do not contain obscene or inflammatory language

• They are not paraded around the stadium.

Nothing in there explicitly discusses critiques of management, or even players. If the A’s are going to have a sign policy, they better stick to it and not go beyond their stated rules. Otherwise they’re asking for legal trouble. The backed down in 2010 after John Russo threatened to sue the A’s. Now that Russo has left the government he described as “morally corrupt” (on the way out, of course), is Barbara Parker or someone else going to step in? The only remotely sports-related opinion Parker has rendered so far has been about the City Council’s voting procedure with regards to JPA matters.

At the very least, OPD shouldn’t be helping with the takedowns. Leave Coliseum private security to do it. If someone in the legal field wants to take up the sign makers’ cause, let the chips fall where they may.

* Reason why I say the publicly-owned stadium principle is a gray area is because private isn’t always completely private, nor is public always completely public. AT&T Park is a privately owned and built stadium, yet it’s on public land. Does that make AT&T Park more or less suitable for similar protests?

40 thoughts on “Another sign controversy

  1. I’m glad that the Oakland Fan Pledge exists, but they shouldn’t advertise at an A’s game anymore than someone holding up a sign urging MLB to move the team to San Jose. All of these are issues that are off the field, so they should be kept there. Game time is meant for the game. Everything else anyone has to say can happen at any other time than when the A’s are playing.

  2. Some of those signs such as “respect Oakland baseball” have been there for a very long time. Why do Wolff and Fisher continue to declare war on Oakland A’s fans? These great creative and passsionate fans is what gives Oakland the greatest baseball atmosphere in all of MLB.

    It’s petty, it’s wrong, and it further casts Wolff and Fisher as villains who have no respect for Oakland or Oakland A’s fans.

    What would happen if 30,000 fans decided to chant “keep the A’s in Oakland?” Would this be considered offensive to the ownership and would all 30,000 fans be forced to stop the chant or told to leave the Coliseum?

    The ballpark was built with public money. Wolff and Fisher are once again doing everyting possible to alienate Oakland A’s fans.

  3. I wonder how all parties would react if it were signs depicting the opposite POV. If it were signs that among their verbage featured or something similar and implored MLB to let the A’s move to San Jose or simply implored the A’s to get out of Oakland.

    If the rules were applied evenly I’d have no issue with what the A’s are doing since they are still a privately licensed event even if taking place at a publicly owned venue. However we all know that if someone brought such a sign promoting the A’s moving to San Jose it would likely be taken down by many of the same denizens of the bleachers currently complaining.

  4. The bitching being done about the Oakland Fan Pledge banner was foolish. The claim that it doesn’t violate the sign rules ignores the “They are not commercial in nature” part. “Oakland Fan Pledge” is a specific group and the sign was advertising their existence so by it’s very nature it was an ad for them. Over up that small part of the sign so it only contained the “Stay” message and it would have been fine.

    And whether the event is held in a public venue, it’s still a private event so the 1st Amendment doesn’t apply so long as it doesn’t involve the city, county, or their employees in it’s enforcement or rule development. If the A’s are paying the off duty cops (which they are) then it’s technically okay to involve them, but in the gray area sense, it’s best to leave it to the private security force to enforce their *private* business rules.

    In general, aside from the “we’re going to advertise our site’s existence” signs, they should just let it be. It makes the team look worse when they enforce policies like this for things that in their nature aren’t crude or non-family friendly.

  5. If the “Respect Oakland Baseball” sign was under 6 feet wide I’m a billionaire.

    I signed the Fan Pledge, but I don’t think anything should be promoted at the game. Parking lot? Have at it.

    Homemade signs have a unique history at the Coliseum, but ever since the sign calling for Billy Beane to be fired and the one calling Wolff a “slumlord” despite being the tenant, I’m not surprised by the enforcement. Given the examples provided, I don’t have a problem with the enforcement either.

  6. Dan,

    The vast majority of the fanbase does not want the A’s to leve Oakland and relocate to San Jose. That’s probably why we don’t see signs advocating that point of view. Let’s allow all respectful signs. Let’s make this a democracy and let’s allow the fans to vote on which city they want to see the team.

    This is the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum. Oakland has the tradition and history on its side. Wolff’s idea of relocating to San Jose is very unpopular among the fan base and this is why Wolfg and Fisher are so sentive about the pro Oakland signs.

  7. Considering the recent bickering between the Oakland city council and the JPA – Wolff’s position that doing business with Oakland is very difficult appears to be 100% factual. Wolff also seeks to own the land at the CC site, and control its developing – and not lease from Colony Capital (nothing wrong with that)

    Wolff has no obligation to enter a business agreement (go with the CC development/ Colony Capital plan, for example)if he believes the CC plan is unfavorable to the A’s – blaming Wolff is a bad move.

  8. Wolff basically wants to muck up Oakland’s plans with the Raiders and Coliseum City without giving any guarantee that he’ll build anything in Oakland.

    The petty censoring of signs at the ballpark along with Selig putting a gun to Oakland’s head with threats of immediate relocation should really be a huge indication to Oakland officials that Wolff has zero respect for Oakland, for Oakland’s economic potential, for Oakland A’s fans, etc.

    All of these moves by Wolff and Selig have to leave Oakland officials with a sour taste in their mouths when dealing with Lew Wolff and Co.

    How could anyone who cares about Oakland leave a person like Lew Wolff, who has done everything possible to disrespect and disparage Oakland, along with Oakland’s economic potential, in control of such an important and huge project as Coliseum City?

    The sign censorship tells us everything we need to know about Wolff and Fisher. If it’s just a matter of the sign being no more than six feet wide, what’s Wolff going to do when twenty guys in the outfield bleachers decide to sit together and each bring a six foot wide letter like R E S P E C T O A K L A N D B A S E B A L L? Is this still considered one sign even though it’s really 22 separate signs with one letter in each?

  9. @elmano- purporting to know what the vast majority of fans want is your opinion only-

    I agree that inside the park is inappropriate for Oakland fan pledge or others to be making statements. Why not just allow Apple or Goggle to hang up a big banner- it would be no more commercial than Oakland Fan pledge trying to drum up support- what happens outside of the stadium go for it-

  10. Elmano, first, it’s not a democracy. It’s a private business owned by Lew Wolff and John Fisher. The closest government system would be a dictatorship. And more importantly it’s a dictatorship where the dictators are the ones who are going to have to pay for a new park. They can put it anywhere they darn well please if they’re footing the bill. Lucky for you they seem to be at least entertaining the idea of doing it at the Coliseum, but again under their own criterion, not Colony Capital’s or the Raiders.

    Second, Wolff’s idea might be unpopular with a vocal segment of the fan base, but I’m not convinced it’s the majority of the A’s fan base. Most A’s fans and most baseball fans in my experience just want the A’s to have a new ballpark in the Bay Area. Be it Oakland or San Jose.

  11. Elmano,

    1) The vast majority of A’s fans are fking tired of the situation altogether. They frankly don’t care where they put a new stadium. Now, a vast majority of your FRIENDS probably think as you say, but you’re attempting to apply confirmation bias.

    2) To put it bluntly, Oakland & Alameda have dicked the A’s around for several decades. IF they want someone to do business with them, they have to do business on that person’s terms. That’s the way the world works. There’s zero obligation for the city to do business with Wolff. None. However, they want to. That doesn’t mean they have absolute power to dictate terms.

    3) Why would you trust Wolff to develop CC? Simple. Your claim that he’s greedy. *SELL* him the land. Once he has money on the line and the power to do what he wants with that land? You damn well better believe he’s going to do everything he can to get the biggest bang for his buck and hefty return on his investment. Drawing a line on the map saying your stadium will go there, figure out how to pay for it, these other guys are going to make the money? Why on earth would he sign on for that?

  12. Elamano aka Navigator – I assume you and your Oakland only pals are lobbying your Councilman to turn down the A’s deal then?!

  13. Dan, I have to disagree with you.

    Most A’s fans want the A’s in Oakland in a new ballpark. Most A’s fans want the Oakland A’s to remain the Oakland A’s.

    I know many here think the Oakland part is less than the A’s part, but it really Isn’t. If the Giants can point to facebook numbers then so can Oakland A’s fans point to the the over 56,000 likes on Let’s Go Oakland.

    Lew Wolff bought the Oakland A’s. Lew Wolff needs to find a way to build a ballpark for the Oakland A’s if he wants a new ballpark. This isn’t a hardware store or a lemonade stand that he bought and wants to take to San Jose.

  14. if 22 guys showed up with a one letter sign and attempted to hang them all in a row… They would block sight lines and be taken down. As they should be.
    I love the home made signs (not the disrespectful spray painted bed sheets with asshole comments like “Lew Hates Oakland.”) If it was up to me, there’d be more signs like the Reddick championship belt and what not. Those things are great and part of what makes our team fun to watch. I loved when the Giants showed how out of touch with regular folks they were by printing a “Bonds Squad” sign on the wall in their park. In ours, we don’t need prompting.
    I have bought shirts from some of the sign makers because they are awesome and I want to see more. I refuse to buy stAy merchandise, or similar, because I won’t support people who expect respect while giving none.

  15. Ok, Let’s go Oakland has 56,000 likes on Facebook. Good for them. I’m one of them. Doesn’t mean I don’t want the A’s to get a new ballpark ANYWHERE in the Bay Area. And it doesn’t mean that translates into people who actually buy tickets or go to games either.

    The Giants meanwhile haven’t used Facebook to prove anything to my knowledge. The New York Times however utilized Facebook to very clearly indicate how little interest there is in the A’s compared to the Giants. They’re the lease followed team on Facebook of any of the two team markets, both by total number and by percentage of interest in any zip code in the region. The Mets are similarly as weak percentage wise, but they have a greater number of overall fans. And Chicago and Anaheim both have increasingly high percentages of interest so much so that the Angels are as close to an equal as you’ll find in the two team markets.

  16. PS- I failed to mention that I also signed the Oakland Fan Pledge because I think those guys get it. Reading the quote by John in the linked story, it is apparent that those are the kind of guys that should be in the forefront of a real “keep the team in oakland” movement, rather than the guys who paint bed sheets and make outlandish bullshit statements.
    More reason, less emotion. That’s how this will get done.

  17. Also Navigator, stop claiming to speak for “most A’s fans.” Just because you’re anecdotal information seems to conform to your view doesn’t mean you’re right. I could point to my anecdotal view and I don’t know one A’s fan who insists they stay in Oakland. All the ones I know personally don’t give a rats ass where the A’s build as long as it’s in the Bay Area and it’s sooner rather than later.

  18. Those facebook numbers are horrible research tools regardless of what you’re attempting to measure. Whether you’re using them to prove something in favor of the Giants or the A’s, it doesn’t matter.

    And Elmano, you’re too insulated into your circle of friends. The average A’s fan would certainly prefer they stay in Oakland, but at the end of the day, they don’t care where they are so as long as they stay in the bay area. I’m sure you’ve spoken to a number of people you’re close to. And I’m sure they’ve all agreed with you, but that’s the problem with confirmation bias. Your sample is bad.

  19. I don’t have a problem with fans showing support, for either Oakland or San Jose (as a future home); by way of signs, I would have a problem, with fans showing signs of a lack of support for either. (i.e. DON’T chose Oakland, or San Jose)
    I do have a problem with signs that are slanderous in nature, and while I support the Oakland Fan Page, in a general sense, I’m not sure I support the idea of them having a specific sign, because they represent an organization (of fans), as appose to an individual fan, which I fill should have the right to support, in a positive way the A’s in Oakland, San Jose, or simply in the San Francisco Bay Area.

  20. @ Jeffrey
    You are so all over it, my man. Unfortunately you’re preaching to the converted.

  21. Where is the sample which confirms that most Oakland A’s fans would want the team to relocate to “wherever” in the Bay Area and drop Oakland from the name?

    Most Oakland A’s fans value the relationship between the Oakland A’s and their hometown of Oakland and their metro are a of the East Bay.

    This call for relocation is not a fan based call. The idea of implying to the fan base that ” we can’t do it in Oakland” so we have to build wherever in the Bay Area, isn’t true and it certainly doesn’t excite any Oakland A’s fan that I know.

    Why would I want to attend a San Jose A’s game, since I was raised and grew up in Oakland with my Oakland A’s?

    Most Oakland A’s fans want the A’s in Oakland. I’ll stand by that statement every single and twice on Sunday.

    You do hear the “Let’s Go Oakland” chants? In the 80′ and 90’s the chant was “Let’s Go A’s.”. The fans know that our team is in danger of being ripped out of Oakland and the East Bay by this unfriendly ownership. The fans know what’s at stake and they’re gladly supporting Oakland in this fight.

  22. Elmano, where is your sample? You’ve got 5 different people now telling you the same thing on this site just since you’ve made your comments and they all disagree with you. Just because your group of friends want Oakland and only Oakland doesn’t make it reality. There are plenty of A’s fans who don’t care where they play, as long as they continue to call our region, the Bay Area, home.

    And yes we hear the “Let’s Go Oakland” chants. We’ve been listening to them since the A’s showed up in Oakland. They’ve been used interspersed with the “Let’s Go A’s” chants for years. The bleacher bums out in Left Field made that one of their signature chants in the early 2000’s, but it was not exclusively a recent addition to the chanting library.

    And while the prospect of a new ballpark might not excite you or your friends, it excites all the A’s fans I know. Again, they don’t care where as long as its in the metro region the A’s have called home for the last half century, the Bay Area. That includes San Jose, Fremont, or Oakland. As long as the A’s are out of the shit smelling squalor they currently find themselves in. They deserve better. And if Oakland is too dysfunctional to make it happen, then tough tooties.

  23. Elmano, you’re not grasping a key piece. NO ONE is suggesting that the average A’s fans WANTS the team to relocate. What we’re saying is that the average A’s fan doesn’t care IF THEY DO. So long as they stay in the bay area, the average fan doesn’t really care in the greater sense. If you’d ask if they’d PREFER a site in Oakland, well then sure. They would. If you’d ask if they’d PREFER the team keep the name “Oakland A’s,” well then sure. They would. But PREFERENCE is the key. You’re talking in these absolutes as if A’s fans in general can’t possibly separate the team from the city. That’s far from true. The only ones hung up on the team in an absolute sense as the “OAKLAND” A’s is a small subset of the fan base. There’s a huge portion of fans all over the country including those in the previous two cities that once hosted the team. Your particular subset of fans are only fans because of it’s civic connection. There’s nothing wrong with that. But you need to realize that there’s more to fandom than the specific plot of land that the team plays on.

  24. “Shit smelling squalor?”

    That’s funny, I never see any of that when I’m at that beautiful bar with the huge flat screen TV’s, the two story glass restuarant overlooking the field, etc. The Coliseum is hardly the”dump” you make out to be.

    Sure the Coliseum isn’t glamorous but it’s badly the dump many here like exaggerate for provincial purposes.

    Mount Davis did bring it 48,000 new sets for baseball, two luxurious clubs in the East Side Club and the West Side Club. The remodel also brought us new luxury suites, a new kids play area, a hall of fame area where plaques of the A’s & Raiders are featured, new bathrooms on the club areas, wider walkways in the Westside Club area, etc.

    So for those of you always asking “what has Oakland ever done for the A’s?” Well, there it is.

    Having said that, I’d love to see a new ballpark for the A’s at Howard Terminal at Jack London Square. A ballpark in that location would be gret for the City of Oakland, MLB, and the Oakland A’s.

  25. Until scientific polling is provided, the claim that the vast majority of A’s fans are against a San Jose move is pure conjecture.

  26. Elmano:

    “Most A’s fans want the A’s in Oakland in a new ballpark. Most A’s fans want the Oakland A’s to remain the Oakland A’s.”

    You made the assertion. Prove it. It’s not up to others to disprove something for which there is no evidence of.

    Just saying.

    (Note: I’m not the same Dan that has been previously posting in this thread.)

  27. Don’t ever use the terms Mt. Davis and luxurious in the same sentence. And that shit heap was built for the Raiders and single handedly ruined the stadium for baseball. Also a site not supported by the team, MLB, public money, or private capital is not good for anyone.

  28. Elmano, you pretty much proved everyone else’s point, when you used Mt Davis as a positive example of something Oakland has done for the A’s.

  29. Navigator… First, the Coliseum is a dump by modern standards. Its concourses are narrow, dark and constricted other than the West Side Club Most of the bathrooms in the place have not been touched since the 1960’s other than to repair damage. Mount Davis brought the stadium 48,000 seats that the city was obligated to provide anyway as the old orange seats were worn out and needed to be replaced anyway (nevermind it also brought with it 15,000 seats that the A’s didn’t want or need, and the Raiders apparently don’t need either). The minor updates to the luxury suites I’ll give you, but they’re still woefully inadequate compared to what passes for a luxury suite in 1993, nevermind today. And don’t make me laugh about the “kids play area.” It’s buried so deep in the stadium it might as well not exist as is the “hall of fame” area. The East Side club is great for football, but it’s as useless as tits on a bull for baseball games. The only improvement made in 1995 that has had any real benefit at all to the A’s was the Westside Club, though apparently even that suffers from sewage backing up into the kitchen from time to time. Plus you’ve got to love the inept airport security that’s been foisted on A’s fans due to sharing the stadium with the Raiders. And none of that even begins to touch on the underlying problems the stadium suffers from due to mismanaged plumbing, poor sightlines and other structural deficiencies that compromise the building.

    And it’s not “provincial” to point out these flaws. National writers have been pointing these flaws out for years, A’s fans have been doing so for just as long, local writers have been doing so, A’s players have been doing so, and even Oakland’s hamfisted leaders have been doing so.

    And I’m glad you’d love to see a new ballpark at Howard Terminal, it’s not going to happen. Just as you wishing the Coliseum was still a nice place doesn’t make it so. MLB has completely eliminated HT has a possible site, as has Wolff and anyone who has looked at the economics of the site. That said, if Oakland wises up, partners with Wolff and the A’s get a ballpark done at the Coliseum I’ll be ecstatic, as I presume you will be. If the A’s can’t and end up in San Jose, Fremont, Pleasanton, etc… I’ll be equally as ecstatic because at least they’ll still be in the Bay Area playing in the venue they and we have deserved for far too long.

  30. “That’s funny, I never see any of that when I’m at that beautiful bar with the huge flat screen TV’s, the two story glass restuarant overlooking the field, etc. The Coliseum is hardly the ”dump” you make out to be.

    Here’s where one of those “Not Sure If Serious” jpg’s would come in real handy.

  31. I thought you were leaving a week or two back, Navigator. If all you’re going to do is come in here and misrepresent things this much every time you chime in, you ought to just find another place to spew your absurdities.

  32. Count me as one of those A’s fans who would prefer that they remain in Oakland, but would be more than willing to accept the team moving to San Jose if a new baseball stadium can’t be built in the East Bay.

  33. @elmano and Dan

    Looking at the Coliseum area this evening. The best spot for a temporary and or a legit ballpark for the Oakland Athletics would be literally right next to Oracle (I’m assuming Oakland might have plans for a vacant Oracle) . It has enough room and it does not kill parking. It also could provide a good view of the hills if located right

  34. @harry- gotta quit just drawing circles on a map and saying put a ballpark there- Oakland has been doing that for years. The challenge is paying for the ballpark and the only way to do that is get rid of the raiders and turn over development rights to the A’s. I really can’t understand why that is so difficult for the Oakland pols- Raiders could be gone at the end of the year- quit dicking around and make a decision to move forward with the A’s as the developer and primary tenant.

  35. Btw- interesting to have lew and bud sitting together last night- a not so subtle reminder to Oakland that the games are coming to an end. Time to make some decisions-

  36. Wow, Lew and Bud were sitting together at the HRD last night? Not exactly earth shattering, but definitely interesting that of all the owners Bud would park it with Lew.

  37. The Oakland Pols have already been told the games are coming to an end directly. Or did you all miss Jean Quan going from defender of the City against the evil, cigar chomping Lew Wolff to urger of approving a fair lease?
    Bud Selig let them believe they had leverage for way too long (he is a shitty leader, especially by the measure of leadership in crisis, anybody can drive a boat in smooth waters). They really don’t have as much leverage as they have been crowing. And the A’s won’t be playing in the Coliseum for one day longer than they have to. If that’s not clear to the bed sheet painting squad, I can’t help you.

  38. It’s starting to sound and look, like we may actually get some so real progress, toward the A’s getting a new, long term baseball only ballpark, in the Bay Area.
    I don’t want to get to excited, because anything could happen, and we still have so long to go, but it’s starting to look like a real possibility (to my), for the first time.

  39. Lakeshore, might not want to get ahead of yourself. The city still hasn’t even signed off on the lease. They reject it and we’re no closer to anything except the A’s eventual exit.

    Oddly enough if they do sign it we may finally be a little closer to a ballpark and closer to the Raiders eventual exit. Party is at my place the day the Raiders decide to piss off and move back to LA.

  40. @ Dan
    I hope I’m not getting ahead of myself, by simply saying “we may actually get some real progress”, but you have a point, in so much that if this frustrating situation has shown us anything, it may be that any hope of progress, may be getting ahead of ourselves.

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