A’s to add more premium seating options

Over at NBC Sports California, Ben Ross interviewed A’s COO Chris Giles about many of the changes planned for next season at the Coliseum. Like the 2017 re-opening of the upper deck and the unveiling of the Treehouse last year, the team is introducing new and improved seat offerings throughout the lower bowl. Let’s go over what’s new.

The biggest changes will be in the seating sections inside fair territory near the foul poles. Oak Landing will be a group standing area in left field, while the Hero Deck will adorn the opposite sections in right field.

Oak Landing (LF)

Hero Deck (RF)

The A’s will be able to pitch both areas as being in home run territory, which they used to do with the BBQ Terrace sections that are being replaced. The BBQ Terrace sections encompassed only four rows above the outfield fence. Above that is the familiar walkway and the soon-to-be-converted sections. This will be a welcome addition, as the old seats didn’t sell all that well except when heavily discounted or made available in trade-ins for season ticket holders. Considering the general availability of other locations in the now-47,000 capacity Coli, these aren’t the most fetching locations. But they could prove inviting to large groups or companies that want to bring a bunch of people to a game while on a budget.

For those whose budgets are higher, the A’s are converting other lower bowl sections to more luxurious seat opportunities, with greater amenities to boot. First up is the Coppola Theater Box, a field box or mini-suite with catering and translucent privacy panels.

Coppola Theater Box

Some number of rows will be removed to accommodate these boxes, and as you can see from the rendering above, they will be located next to the stairs leading to the Plaza Level.Some sections, such as 117 and 301 or 330, probably won’t undergo the conversion. It’s safe to believe that the conversion will occur through much of the field level. Here’s what a similar field box looks like at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, AZ:

Behind the road dugout, the A’s are installing what they call  Lounge Seats. Big and cushy and replete with refrigerators and televisions, this offering is meant to mimic the creature comforts of a fan’s living room while being at the ballpark. The A’s would be smart to offer blankets for those chilly April and May night games.

Lounge Seats

The Terrace has small group tables above the home dugout, also with in-game monitors.

Terrace

Dugout Seats will also be offered. How can the A’s do this when the dugouts themselves aren’t large enough to hold the teams? The actual location of those seats will be the walkways between the dugouts and the Diamond Level seats, which until now were mostly an overflow area for players, coaches, and front office staff.

One big takeaway from these images is that the new seats and tables will take up a lot of space. From the looks of things each of the new premium rows will cover the equivalent of three rows in the regular sections nearby. Certainly there will be a price to pay for that kind of leg room. The exception to this is Oak Landing, whose standing rows will take up two regular seating rows.

The A’s are scattering these sections throughout the Coli, which promises to break up the monotonous ocean of empty seats often seen throughout the season. Still, there’s only so much the A’s can do to a place as large as the Coliseum. The upper deck closure failed, and the Treehouse converted part of the Plaza Outfield area, so that level isn’t going away anytime soon. It’s funny that a decade ago when we talked about new ballparks, it was generally agreed by many fans that the A’s should aim for 40,000 seats. Nowadays 40k is practically too big. The new premium and group offerings are yet another experiment in scarcity. We’ll see by the end of the season how successful that experiment is.

Splitsville

I guess we’ll find out about the A’s next radio home soon.

A’s schedule additional community meetings

The A’s continue their series of community outreach meetings, starting with this Saturday.

Two weeks from Sunday another meeting will be held at Oakland City Hall. While Saturday’s meeting will be focused on development at the Coliseum, the meeting on the 28th will continue the discussion about Howard Terminal. Questions about Howard Terminal are likely to be raised at the Coliseum meeting and vice-versa, so I hope that the A’s and the City are prepared. They appear to have learned some lessons from the Peralta debacle.

For now both sites are being handled separately. That may change, though not without some consternation.

The thing that concerns me is that the City should have a web page dedicated to the effort on their website. So should the A’s. Perhaps this is technically too early in the process because there is no project submitted yet, but eventually both parties will need their own information repositories for their respective efforts. Perhaps that’s why the City listed a new job posting for a project manager.

Before you ask, no, I’m not that kind of project manager as I have no relevant governmental experience. Besides, my therapeutic program doesn’t end until early next year and I imagine both the City and the Team want this work started ASAP. Nevertheless, I’m glad that steps are being made to not repeat the mistakes of the recent (and not-so-recent) past.

Community Meeting on Howard Terminal to be held Sunday 10/7

A notice from the A’s and the City of Oakland:

NEW BALLPARK COMMUNITY MEETING

Councilmember Lynette McElhanney and the Oakland Athletics invite you to attend a meeting with representative from the A’s to discuss the proposed new ballpark site at Howard Terminal in West Oakland.
Sunday, October 7, 2018

1 PM to 3 PM

7th West Restaurant  1255 7th St. Oakland, CA 94706

Complimentary food and refreshments will be served.

For more information contact:

externalaffairs@athletics.com

7th West happens to be only a few blocks east of the West Oakland BART station, and about nine blocks northwest of Howard Terminal. You’ll notice some railroad tracks running right past 7th West, as the Amtrak maintenance facility and a major Union Pacific rail yard are on the other side of 880.

If you’re planning to go, take notes and report back. Thanks.

2018, epilogue

AB 734 signed by Governor Brown

I figured that with the sheer number of bills waiting to be passed or vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown, he might take the entire month to sign AB 734 (D-Bonta) into law.

On that count I was right. There was not much worry about a veto for this and similar bills, because the issues are so local that they weren’t likely to encounter broad opposition. It is somewhat interesting, however, that the Clippers’ CEQA streamlining bill, AB 987, had former US Senator Barbara Boxer lobbying against it. At the end, both AB 734 (A’s, Howard Terminal) and AB 987 (Clippers, Inglewood) were both signed before tonight’s midnight deadline. AB 987 happens to have a signing statement from Brown, which should equally apply to AB 734 and Howard Terminal. From Gov. Brown:

While most fans and HT proponents have focused on issues such as the distance from BART and the dearth of parking and other traffic infrastructure immediately available at HT, it should be made clear that a ballpark project will have to pass certain (CEQA) standards to be approved and certified – before a shovel hits in the ground. Although the Warriors and Kings had the benefit of their own CEQA streamlining bills, legal challenges still delayed the eventual groundbreaking for Chase Center for at least a year. On the other hand, the ballpark is projected to have a much smaller capacity than the current Coliseum at 30-35,000 seats. That and smart design should help the project meet some environmental standards. As for the usual arguments about gentrification and displacement (mostly of industry) that will likely come up, I’ll just say that I’m glad this discussion is finally taking place.

Tidelands Trust map of Howard Terminal and Jack London Square area

Time again for AAA Musical Chairs

It’s September in an even-numbered year, so you (should) know what that means: The biennial ritual of matching AAA franchises to new cities has begun. According to the Chronicle’s Susan Slusser, that includes the A’s affiliate, the Nashville Sounds, who are discontinuing their player development contract (PDC) with the parent club.

In this new era of improved regional consolidation, the pairing of a Central time zone-based AAA club with a Pacific time-zone based parent was never going to be the most convenient of situations. While the Sounds were reasonably competitive under the A’s stewardship, the transient nature of player movement makes it more likely for fans to root for the front of the jerseys than the names on the back.

Las Vegas Ballpark planned for Summerlin, NV

The Sounds could hook up with the Washington Nationals. The Nats will no longer be the parent of the Syracuse Chiefs as the Chiefs were bought by the New York Mets. In turn, the Mets are ditching the Las Vegas 51s, a team undergoing its own transformation. Additionally, the Round Rock Express are expected to switch back from an affiliation with the Texas Rangers to the Houston Astros. As a result the Fresno Grizzlies’ affiliation would be up for grabs. So it would appear that the A’s have Las Vegas and Fresno as potential affiliate candidates. The Rangers could also switch to Nashville or San Antonio.

For potential west coast affiliates, air travel is easier coming in and out of Las Vegas than Fresno, so Sin City has a distinct advantage based on logistics. Fresno’s airport is small compared to other major cities and doesn’t have the kind of demand that teams can use to their advantage for pricing. Fresno is closer to Oakland than Vegas, only a four-hour drive (six on Amtrak) from Fresno to the Coliseum. If Reno extends with the Dbacks, another candidate in the Pacific time zone goes away.

Las Vegas and Nashville have one thing in common. HOK was the architect for First Tennessee Park in Nashville, which opened in 2015 in time for the A’s. HOK is also working on the new ballpark in Summerlin, which will replace Cashman Field starting in 2019. HOK also has previous experience working the A’s, as the firm designed Avaya Stadium for the Quakes. And don’t forget, the A’s retained HOK’s Brad Schrock as a consultant on their new ballpark project in Oakland. Synergies abound!

P.S. – If you’re wondering if the new ballpark in Summerlin could host the A’s or another MLB club, take a look at the rendering in this post. Then get back to me on how you’d add 20,000 seats and a roof.