The joys of an empty stadium
Posted by keithosaunders on August 20, 2010
My second day living in the Bay Area found my son Lee and I making our debut appearance at the Oakland Alameda Coliseum. We saw the As play the Tampa Rays on a chilly, but delightful Thursday night.
I’m already in the California mindset of driving everywhere, but when my when my wife, Debra, suggested that we take the Bart, I was more than happy to avoid the rush hour traffic.
The Bart train has plush seats, is squeaky clean, very quiet, and surprisingly slow. They don’t run as often as the New York trains and they take an interminable time at the stations. That said, the train drops you off two minutes from the Coliseum and there is a ramp that takes you directly to the ticket booth. We bought field level seats in shallow right field for $26. In New York these same seats would have gone for $75 at Citi. God only knows what they get for them at Yankee Stadium – at least three figures.
Oakland’s stadium is not great. Look, it’s one of the older parks in the AL and it was built during the era of duel-use stadiums. That’s my diplomatic way of saying it’s a dump. Well…it’s not really a dump. They’ve done their best to spruce it up since the last time I was there, some 30 years ago. It’s clean and has good access from both the subway and parking lot. Best of all, it’s not crowded.
There is an embarrassing tarp over most of the upper deck seats – seats they can never expect to fill. At least they have green seats for a reason – the team’s colors are green and yellow. For some unexplainable reason most of the new parks around the league that have opened in the last ten years have chosen forest green for their seats, regardless of the team’s colors.
After several years of waiting on long lines to enter the stadium, being frisked, wanded, and unable to bring a backpack inside, it was refreshing to walk up to the ticket booth a half hour before game time, buy a good seat, walk right inside, and buy concessions that were surprisingly inexpensive. In New York I was exhausted before I arrived at my seat.
Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing like the electricity of being at a close, tense game in New York. The fans are raucous but they are smart and they have a great sense of humor. It’s just that in the aftermath of September 11th a lot of the joy went out of the experience. The New York fans are the best in the game, but the stadium experience, even with the new parks, is not that good. In Yankee Stadium they don’t even play Take Me Out To the Ballgame at the 7th inning stretch. Instead they remind you of the worst day in New York history by playing God Bless America.
The Oakland fans are small in number and are not nearly as vocal as the New York faithful. They are generally good-natured and seem to be very much into the game and their team. The feeling in the stadium was congenial and light-hearted.
The game was short and delightful. The As took an early lead but lost it on a pair of home runs by Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria. They came from behind, however, and mounted a 3 run 7th inning rally and went on to win 4-3.
I would be remiss if I failed to mention that this is the first August baseball game I have attended wearing layers of long-sleeved shirts and sweaters. The temperature at the start of the game was a fall-like 57 degrees.
I now have my eyes on a midweek September day game versus the Chicago Whitesox. There’s liable to be less than 2,000 fans in attendance!