Lew Wolff has already made his decision. But could he change his mind?
Oakland Athletics co-owner Lew Wolff announced Oct. 5 he will not be removing the third-deck tarps for postseason home games, according to Carolyn Jones of SFGate.com. Though the third deck should be available for playoffs, Mount Davis should still remain covered.
Wolff cites an "intimate fan experience" as his reasoning for denying additional seating to A's fans' first postseason action since 2006.
That's a poor excuse.
This is the playoffs. The Athletics haven't played baseball in October for six years. Furthermore, attendance has been terrible all season, yet now that the team is winning, games are sold out.
Worried the postseason won't sell out?
Game 162—a game in which the A's didn't need to win because they were already guaranteed a playoff berth, but could take the AL West crown with a victory—saw a full capacity crowd.
It wasn't even playoffs. Tarps on for those games? Fine. But we're talking about playoffs.
First, the reasoning. Here's the explanation from management (via Jones):
The fan experience is better without spreading fans out over more seats.The energy in the park and the fan experience over the last week (when the seats were tarped) was incredible.
Sure, 35,000 A's fans in close proximity to each other and the field makes for a fantastic ambiance. But fans should have the final say on the fan experience being "better," not management.
If 20,000 fans, outraged at the inability to purchase tickets, are accepting of the fact their seats won't be great, yet they still buy them anyway, so be it. That should not be management's position to say otherwise.
You want an intimate fan experience? Provide incentives to sell those upper-deck seats out. Then go further and make sure that, though their seats may stink, their time was well spent.
Make the seats cheap. Throw in goodies. Make sure Stomper makes his appearances.
It's the little things on top of the simple idea of being at a playoff game that counts.
And what about the players?
This is as much about them as it is the fans. Not many expected this roster to do enough damage to make it into October. Yet, here they are. They should be rewarded with loud choruses of cheers from as many fans the stadium can seat.
After all, they deserve it.
They played 80 home games in front of disgustingly less than capacity crowds. Now, they have an opportunity to play in front of twice as many. Management should honor that.
What this move does is convince people that Wolff is running a scam.
The chatter amongst fans is that the refusal to remove the tarps is a ploy to show Major League Baseball and commissioner Bud Selig that Oakland does not have enough fans, cannot sell out (even in playoffs) and the stadium wouldn't be good enough anyway.
If that's the case, why was the stadium built in the first place? If it wasn't good enough (or barely good enough), then the project should never have been green-lit.
Granted, times change.
Ultimately though, it's not fair to punish fans to prove a point.
It's actions like these that drive fans away from the team, even when they do win.
To a fan, it isn't easy to understand the concept of being a low-market team with "no money" to sign big-name free agents when ownership doesn't make an effort to utilize one-third of its seats.
As of Oct. 6, the cheapest seats are $55. Let's say the third deck is opened (not including Mt. Davis) and runs a minimum of $20. First of all, that's $20 for playoff tickets. Fans should, and would, gobble that up.
At $20 apiece and 10,000 third-deck seats, that's an additional $200,000. If a minimum of half of those fans spend a minimum of $20 more on food or merchandise, that's another $100,000. The A's could make almost an additional million dollars just for the ALDS.
Here's the solution: Keep the tarps on for the first game against the Detroit Tigers in Oakland.
If the game sells out, take the tarps off the third deck. However, Mount Davis should remain covered. If O.Co Coliseum is still at capacity without tarps for the remainder of the series against the Tigers, and the A's make it to the next round—then at least consider Mount Davis, too.
Fans know the seats up there are terrible.
But they also recognize it could be another six years before the A's make playoffs again. Furthermore, it's understood that in six years, their Oakland A's team might not even be in Oakland anymore.