FanFest 2015

Rain has become a constant at FanFest, the Coliseum was at its muggy, leaky best. That’s probably just as well, since it motivates the players (and hopefully many fans) to head down to the desert for Spring Training. If only this rain came more frequently…

Anyway, if you’ve been to FanFest since its 2011 reboot, you know how this works. The main event is held inside the arena, which can hold thousands for the numerous Q&A sessions. The first two sessions involving player intros, Billy Beane and Bob Melvin draw a huge crowd. Unlike previous FanFests, the crowd was restricted to sitting in a third of the lower bowl. The arena’s upper level had VIP events.

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Ray Fosse and Glen Kuiper telling a broadcasting anecdote about on-camera plumber’s crack

Most everything else was held in the Coliseum, especially the East Side (Mt. Davis). FanFest may well be the only event that stretches the East Side’s facilities to its limits. Concessions were open along the regular concourses, and smaller Q&A sessions were held along the lower concourse near the foul poles. An interesting backstory is that for several weeks, today’s date was held for another event, a concert at the arena. Only late in the year did the arena become available for the big sessions. If the arena wasn’t available, the big sessions would have been held in the stadium somewhere, even though there were no TVs and the scoreboard system was not available.

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Panorama from back of section 117

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“Baseball 101” set up for intimate Q&A sessions, this one with David Forst

The project is underway, though the teardown of the old one isn’t complete. The fascia signage along the plaza level hasn’t been removed yet. Much of the work is being done in the press box, where the control is being retrofitted and expanded. The expansion is larger enough that the A’s have to install a server room of sorts above the press box, in some free space along the value deck. For some reason, the scoreboard project was delayed two weeks by the City of Oakland, who for some reason took some extra sweet time with the permits. Apparently no one told Permits the project was coming. #welp

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State of the scoreboard project

The rain and winds threatened to wreak havoc on the whole affair, but thankfully they lightened up significantly midway through FanFest. With so many autograph lines shifted indoors to the East Side, it was much easier to move between the stadium and arena.

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East Side had many of the autograph stations and fan booths

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Plaza of Champions cleaned up thanks to better circulation between the two venues

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Autograph line

That left one major line behind home plate, the one leading to the Clubhouse Tour. For most of the duration of the event it was quite long, so I passed. Even though I’ve been in the clubhouse many times over the years, I still like walking through there because it takes me back to Moneyball.

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Line for clubhouse tour

The line died down when the marquee last Q&A session started at 3, so I rushed across to the stadium to quickly walk through the clubhouse. Why? Well, I wanted to provide a comparison between the Coliseum clubhouse and the new clubhouse at Hohokam Stadium.

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Coliseum clubhouse

Clubhouse

Hohokam clubhouse

Do you get a sense of how much bigger the Hohokam clubhouse is? It’s much wider and perhaps 50% larger.

This FanFest, I came too late for the BlogFest interview sessions, not that it matters much since I don’t write about the team much. Instead I floated between the two venues, catching up with fans along the way and making observations. A big thank you to Zak Basch for getting the credential to me after the deadline, even if I didn’t use it to its fullest.

My last tidbit is some advice a fan solicited from Coco Crisp, meant for all the new A’s this year.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

P.S. – The A’s posted on social media that FanFest attendance was 15,000 today.

23 thoughts on “FanFest 2015

  1. Looking at the photos above and seeing the scenes from the “Bandwagon”-Fest yesterday, it’s still amazes (or disgusts) the vast chasm that exists between the two Bay Area franchises. And here we are, 2015…

    Still looking forward to the day A’s Fan Fest can be held at a beautiful downtown ballpark. “Someday this war’s gonna end…”

  2. so the st clubhouse is bigger and probably better than the coliseum’s?

    least we know the players will enjoy the move from phoenix to mesa.

    John Hickey @JHickey3
    Players, staff who have been to Mesa in recent weeks have been raving about new facility, including Reddick, Doolittle, Melvin

    not so sure about the fans but i think once they see the new digs most will agree it was the right decision to move.

  3. If Wolff can build a spring training facility like Hohokam – the A’s new ballpark will likely kick ass – include ancillary developments, and be newer and superior in every way when compared to the Giant’s ATT Park (which will be somewhat dated when the A’s new stadium will likely be completed)

    • You understand that ballpark critics all over America strongly disagree with you, right? Just saying.

    • @duffer
      I don’t think the San Francisco Giants ballpark; will look dated any time soon. I don’t think it will look dated in a hundred years. I think it will become a jewel of the game, like in Boston, or Chicago (Cubs), and grow old gracefully.
      That being said, it doesn’t mean the A’s can’t have a kick-ass ballpark, in Oakland or San Jose.

      • There could be some potential for the Giants ballpark – that Oriole stadium, for example (the original of the newer retro style baseball-only ballparks) appears to be holding up well and not getting dated. It will be difficult to imagine how the A’s new ballpark (and its related developments) won’t leave the ATT Park in the dust locally though – because we are now viewing first hand evidence of how Wolff completes his development projects – with excellence.

    • “…build a spring training facility like Hohokam…”

      The heavy lifting for HoHoKam was done years ago by the Cubs; the current version is made possible with the help of a city with (apparently) money to burn and fear of winding up with another AZ relic stadium like in Tucson.

      • @Mark, also add ATT Park to that relic list – once the A’s ballpark (if it resembles the Mesa facility, which is likely – only a much larger budget) is built.

  4. AT&T is a nice ballpark, but it’s also vastly overrated. The ballpark itself is highly derivative – a knockoff of a ballpark that was itself an homage to an earlier style – and the concourses are narrow. Lots of lower deck sight lines are compromised by the upper deck, and there are a number of ballparks that put fans closer to the action. It’s best feature by far is its location rather than anything about the ballpark itself.

    I’ve been to all 30 current MLB ballparks (and have seen live games in 28). I’d rate AT&T 6th or 7th, but that’s mostly about the gorgeous views of the bay and easy walk to SOMA. If you put AT&T on a generic inland site (the Oakland Coliseum site for example) it probably wouldn’t break my top 15.

    The Coliseum site is definitely a handicap, if that’s where a new A’s park winds up getting built. But there’s definitely room to outshine AT&T on architecture, technology and other experiential innovations.

    • Ballpark ‘technology’ is pretty modular though. There’s nothing about any one stadium, technologically speaking, that couldn’t be done to any other pretty easily. WiFi can be upgraded, LTE service can be expanded, tv screens can be replaced, NFC payment stations can be added, and even the video board can be upgraded without serious modification to the venue.

      • @ SMG
        I’m with you on this one, and I really don’t see AT&T being anything other than a spectacular ballpark for many years to come.
        As A’s fans, I don’t see why we can’t simply tip the cap to the Giants for what they have accomplished. Then build our own kick-ass ballpark, AT&T doesn’t have to be a dying relic in order for the A’s to have a nice park. We seem to have a need to tear something down in order to build ourselves up, which is never good.

      • You absolutely nailed it Neil.

      • “Ballpark ‘technology’ is pretty modular though. There’s nothing about any one stadium, technologically speaking, that couldn’t be done to any other pretty easily.”

        Up to a point, although after a certain point infrastructure improvements may be needed that can’t easily be retrofitted. I imagine it would be easier to incorporate Google Fiber into a new stadium than an existing stadium, for example.

        More to the point, without having a crystal ball and knowing what technical innovations are on the horizon its hard to speculate how easy they would be to retrofit. It may not be a matter of just beefing up existing technologies, there may be brand new, unforeseen technologies.

        Also, the fact that technology can be added to a ballpark doesn’t mean it will, or that they’ll do a good job. For example, AT&T Park currently does a horrible job with seat side ordering technology. Order a beer to your seat in one of the clubs at AT&T and the game could practically be over before you it actually arrives. In contrast, order something in the clubs at Staples Center and it arrives only minutes later.

        In short, the A’s have opportunities to compete with the Giants in pretty much all aspects of the ballpark experience except those dependent on the location.

      • “AT&T doesn’t have to be a dying relic in order for the A’s to have a nice park. We seem to have a need to tear something down in order to build ourselves up, which is never good.”

        I never said it was a dying relic; in fact, I said it’s in my top 7 MLB parks. But objectively speaking, what makes it great is the view of the Bay and the closeness to SOMA. The building itself is no better than most other MLB parks built after Camden Yards, and worse than many (including the Kauffman Stadium remodel).

      • Nevertheless, AT&T is pretty much universally listed in the top 5 of any published ballpark review list that you see.

        Others have made the assertion that it is getting or soon will be dated. However, you almost never hear that about same thing said about Camden Yard (which opened 8 years earlier than AT&T), PNC Park (which opened just 1 year later), Comerica (which opened the same year), or Safeco (which opened 1 year earlier).

      • @Lakeshore/Neil – the fact remains that the phonebooth will be nearly or 20+ years old when the new A’s ballpark is completed (whether at the CC site or SJ Dirdion) Also, judging by what Wolff has been building lately – it will be state-of-the-art. The A’s park will be likely much more hi-tech and well-designed than ATT, also with more fan options to do pre and post game – just stating facts (although it is admittedly fun to dump on the giants whenever possible)

      • @ bartleby
        I never said that anyone said “AT&T doesn’t have to be a dying relic in order for the A’s to have a nice park. We seem to have a need to tear something down in order to build ourselves up, which is never good.”
        I wasn’t referring to you specifically, but to an inferiority complex within our A’s fan base (some), towards everything SF Giants. (IMHO) I would have to say although I don’t always disagree with him; my comment was more in reference to what duffer wrote. And yes duffer, it is always fun to dump on the “g’iants whenever possible.
        That being said, I can say that I totally disagree with your assessment that “generic inland site (the Oakland Coliseum site for example) it probably wouldn’t break my top 15.”, and “The Coliseum site is definitely a handicap, if that’s where a new A’s park winds up getting built”
        If the coliseum area is redeveloped and Wolff is in charge of it, I believe it has a chance to be a transformative project that will change a lot of the surrounding area forever (not all of east Oakland). I don’t think Wolff would do it at that location if he did not think the same. If Wolff ever builds a ballpark in Oakland, or San Jose I think it’s going to be a legacy project for him. (first class)
        I don’t think a historically depressed/industrial area is going to stop that from happening. My hope is that those challenges make him more determined, but we will see.

      • @Lakeshore/Neil How could anyone have an “inferiority complex’ towards the giants? the giant’s only edge over the the A’s is their stadium (and that’s not saying much – since the Coliseum is an obsolete 48 year old dump) During the Giants so called dynasty – their WS teams -have not been top-notch MLB teams (perhaps the 2010 giants team deserved that WS title – the 2012 and 2014 giants teams were approximately the 10th best in MLB though) Several MLB teams, including the A’s, had more impressive rosters, and better W-L pct. than the Giants did. The NL is also an AAAA, watered-down league (in 2014, for example only 6 of the 15 NL teams finished .500 or better) Also ATT park is overrated, the views of the bay it offers are great for tourists, however not impressive with long time bay area residents very familiar with spectacular views of the bay.

      • You just proved Neil’s point duffer. Good work.

      • @SMG – that’s not the point I was making. They won a few WS titles – kudos to them. Perhaps some fans have an inferiority complex about them – I do not though and don’t believe they are a dynasty.

      • Oh the irony…

  5. “That being said, I can say that I totally disagree with your assessment that “generic inland site (the Oakland Coliseum site for example) it probably wouldn’t break my top 15.”, and “The Coliseum site is definitely a handicap, if that’s where a new A’s park winds up getting built””

    These are really two separate points you are disagreeing with: (1) that AT&T Park, considered only for its structure and not its location, would not be one of the top 15 MLB ballparks, and (2) that building at the Coli site is a handicap. However, you’ve really only addressed the second one.

    With respect to the first point, here are fifteen MLB parks I believe are superior to AT&T Park if location and surroundings are not considered: 1. PNC Park; 2. Petco Park; 3. Wrigley Field; 4. Marlins Ballpark; 5. Camden Yards; 6. Citizens Bank Park; 7. Minute Maid Park; 8. Comerica Park; 9. CitiField; 10. Kauffman Stadium; 11. Safeco Field; 12. Nationals Park; 13. Target Field; 14. Coors Field; 15. Rangers Ballpark at Arlington.

    With respect to the second point, how can you possibly say the Coli site is not a handicap? China Basin and industrial East Oakland are at opposite ends of the spectrum as a starting point.

    Wolff may indeed wish to transform the area around a new ballpark, but there’s a lot of acreage to cover and a lot of other constituencies who will have their say (all of which translates to a lot of $ per incremental transformation). Even if he is fairly successful he is likely to finish with marginal neighborhoods abutting his development, and there is no natural feature nearby that is equivalent to bayfront views.

    • @bartleby

      Concerning the first point, or the first part of your statement. I will simply say, I believe that the area will no longer be a generic site, once the redevelopment takes place. You may fill that AT&T, or a new A’s ballpark could only rank 15th at that site, which is fine that’s you’re opinion (you’re initialed), I just don’t agree.
      China basin was not all that great of a place, before the Giants build a new ballpark there either.

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