Oakland Athletics rub fans up wrong way



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Oakland Athletics to discuss lease extension at Oakland Coliseum Image: Oakland Coliseum, BrokenSphere, CC BY-SA 3.0

The Major League Baseball (MLB) team Oakland A’s say they’re open to splitting the Coliseum venue with two local soccer teams, a team spokesperson said. It’s an indication that the team is willing to make concessions to remain in its current market until its new home in Las Vegas (US) is ready, likely in 2028.

Meanwhile, relations with the current fans are becoming even more fraught.

‘The Athletic’ stated that remaining in Oakland would allow the club to collect a reported $67 million a year on its current TV deal, which is enough of an enticement to sign up for several more years of heavy criticism that the club is actively working to quell.

The Oakland Athletics (often referred to as the Oakland ‘A’s’) are an American professional baseball team based in Oakland, US. The Athletics compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the American League (AL) West Division. The team plays its home games at the Oakland Coliseum.

The 63,000-capacity Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum is a multipurpose stadium in Oakland, California, United States. It is part of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Complex, with the adjacent 19,200-capacity Oakland Arena, near Interstate 880.

The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Complex is a multipurpose sports and recreational facility in Oakland, California, US. The complex includes the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, an outdoor stadium with seating for up to 63,000 people. The Coliseum is home to the Oakland Athletics Major League Baseball team and also hosts other sporting events such as soccer, motorsports and concerts. The complex also includes the adjacent Oakland Arena.

‘The Athletic’ further stated that the potential concession comes at a time when the move to Las Vegas itself is facing potential legal challenges and questions as to whether the Las Vegas community even wants it there.

The club has recently faced backlash for a perceived effort to squash an independent Fans Fest organized by two fan groups that have lobbied to keep the team from moving. And recently, the ‘A’s’ became the only team in Major League Baseball (MLB) to block replies to its social media posts, a direct reaction to a barrage of criticism on various platforms.

New York (US)-based the Major League Baseball (MLB) is a professional baseball league and the highest level of organized baseball in the United States and Canada. One of the big four major leagues, the MLB comprises 30 teams, divided equally between the National League (NL) and the American League (AL), with 29 in the United States and 1 in Canada.

An ‘A’s’ spokesperson stated, “This decision is in response to a lack of civil discourse in some comments.”

But despite the continued contentious discourse around the team, the ‘A’s’ have signaled a willingness to consider remaining in Oakland rather than finding an interim home in Salt Lake City or Sacramento. The ‘A’s’ have indicated they would be open to sharing the Coliseum in 2025 with two local soccer teams: the Oakland Roots SC of the United Soccer League (USL – the largest professional soccer organization in North America) and the Oakland Soul of the USL W (pre-professional women’s soccer league in the United States).

Though the ‘A’s’ did not explicitly say they prefer to remain in Oakland after their lease expires after this season, a team spokesperson confirmed that conversations remain ongoing in that effort. The ‘A’s’ TV deal with NBC California could be voided if the ‘A’s’ move out of their current media market.

The spokesperson added, “We have shared with the City of Oakland and the Alameda County that we are open to being co-tenants of the Coliseum with the Roots and Soul in 2025.”

With the ‘A’s’ lease at the Coliseum set to expire after this season, the City of Oakland and the Alameda County (which co-own the property) had reportedly begun negotiations with the local soccer clubs about becoming tenants of the Coliseum in 2025. However, those negotiations appeared to be in when a February 16th meeting to discuss the potential lease was abruptly canceled.

The development came a day after the ‘A’s’ met briefly with representatives from the City and the county about possibly extending the lease on the Coliseum, which was the first such discussion since April when the ‘A’s’ announced their intentions to move to Las Vegas.

The Coliseum has a history as a dual-tenant venue. The ‘A’s’ and the National Football League (NFL) team Las Vegas Raiders shared the Coliseum from 1968 through 1981 and again in the aging facility from 1995 until 2019. One of the reasons the teams attempted to move was to avoid sharing the stadium.

The potential desire to remain in Oakland for the short term comes at a time when relations with the fans continue to be strained.

In January, the ‘A’s’ blocked a newly formed independent league baseball team from hosting a Pioneer League game at the Coliseum in June. Then, at the start of the Spring training, the ‘A’s’ social media accounts shut off replies across all platforms. Recently, the team was accused of influencing a major sponsor to drop out of a fan-hosted Fans Fest.

Said Bryan Johansen, a Co-Founder of the Last Dive Bar, “I don’t see why they need to make the fans’ life worse than it already is because of their actions. If you want to move, go ahead and move. But let us have our fun. Let us celebrate our team. Let us celebrate our civic pride.”

Fumed Barry Braden, Co-Founder of the Fieldwork Brewing in Berkeley, “I don’t support the ‘A’s’ or current ownership. I support the idea of the ‘A’s’ and their Bay Area roots. Frankly, I’m angry to lose my baseball team. You can print that. I don’t expect to ever serve beer at the Coliseum.”

Even if the ‘A’s’ do sign a lease extension in Oakland, getting people to want to come to ‘A’s’ games will be a challenge, especially as they continue to limit their interactions with their fans on social media.

The ‘A’s’ spokesperson said they “appreciate the passion our fans bring and understand their disappointment with our move to Las Vegas. Our goal is to maintain a positive and engaging fan experience for all our fans and to continue making meaningful contributions to the communities we serve.”

Shutting off comments on social media doesn’t track with the industry’s standard for what drives a positive fan experience, however.

One social media manager for a Major League team said, “I would not want to take that away from them. You can limit your posting, but limiting what the fans say. … There are certain things that you owe the fans.”

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