A Visitor's Guide to the Oakland Coliseum

Ray YockeContributor IJuly 28, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 01:  An Oakland A's fan cheers before the start of the Opening Day game of the Oakland Athletics and The Boston Red Sox at the McAfee Coliseum April 1, 2008 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

If you're planning on attending your first sporting event in Oakland, or even if you just haven't been in a while, there are a few things you'll need to know.

Lucky for you, the Oakland Sports Examiner is here to tell you what those things are:

1) Weather

If you’ve never attended a baseball game at the Oakland Coliseum, there’s one thing you need to know about the weather: Everything changes once you enter the stadium.

Say you show up 20 minutes before a 7:05 game, on a picture-perfect summer evening. Seventy degrees outside, nice sunset, the works.

By the sixth inning, you’ll be ready to commit assault for a warm blanket and paying $90 for a hideous yellow jacket suddenly won’t sound unreasonable.

In the afternoon, it’s just the opposite.

That’s because the Coliseum holds the world record for most pounds of concrete per square inch. It’s great for fending off invading armies, but it doesn’t lend itself to airflow.

If you’re not prepared, a nine-inning afternoon game can leave you feeling like human stir fry in the Coliseum’s concrete wok.

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2) Tickets

The biggest advantage to supporting a small-market team with a poor record isn’t ticket availability, it’s seat availability.

Attending an A’s game this season means you and 8,000 of your closest friends will be the only ones there, which allows you the opportunity to explore new real estate.

Buy a second-deck or bleacher ticket, and move down to the lower deck. If no one else is going to sit there, you may as well.

Also, you don’t need to purchase a ticket before you arrive. The scalper network at the Coliseum is extensive, and they’ll have everything you need.

They may claim that you need to buy seven seats together, or that they only have two-and-one-half tickets left, but haggle with them for a few minutes and you’ll get what you’re looking for.

3) Transportation

When traveling to the Coliseum, you have three primary choices: taking BART, driving and parking in the Coliseum lot, or driving and parking outside the Coliseum lot.

Parking in the Coliseum lot will cost you what the A’s are paying their centerfielder this season, and you’ll have to come to grips with the fact that you paid for another one of Al Davis’ sweatsuits.

Park outside the Coliseum lot, and you may receive a good Samaritan award. After all, you will have donated your stereo and at least one of your car’s windows to the local community, in addition to anything you may have left in your trunk.

Don’t bother trying to track it down, either, because your belongings have already been sold four times at the flea market next door. But thanks for playing.

BART, on the other hand, is cheap, convenient, and reliable, dropping you off on the Coliseum’s doorstep. You’ll also have commanding views of the Bay, the Oakland hills, and everyone who ignored this advice and drove to the game.

4) Food and drink

Before attending a game in Oakland, repeat the following mantra: I will not rely on the Coliseum to feed me.

The food at the Coliseum is no different than a high school cafeteria: It has things you like to order, but they’re usually not as good as you hope, and you’re never glad you ate it.

Instead, stop across the street for an animal-style double-double at In N’ Out or a double-double helping of MSG at Panda Express.

As for drinks, there’s a reason the postgame parking lot looks like Mardi Gras just rolled through. The Coliseum is the only place where beer is more valuable than gasoline, and it’s created a new level in the beer economy:

In high school, “beer money” meant throwing down $20 for whatever the guy with the fake I.D. was willing to buy.

In college, “beer money” meant $10 for a 64-pack of Natural Ice.

At the Coliseum, “beer money” means 10 pieces of leprechaun gold and a pint of dragon’s blood for two oversized MGD’s.

You’ve been warned.

5) Company

If you bring a date to the Coliseum, you’ll need to temper expectations accordingly.

At the Coliseum, there isn’t much to keep a casual fan (or non-fan) entertained. Where AT&T Park has gorgeous views, boat traffic, and a giant slide in left field, the Coliseum has 3 PM firebombings courtesy of the local army of seagulls.

For a brief period, the Warriors offered a fun environment for non-diehards, but ownership cured that like a bad rash.

The Raiders are the best team in Oakland now, but girls at Raiders games are likely to either get scared or stolen.

If you’re bringing a date, it’s probably best to stick with an A’s game.

The Oakland Sports Examiner: New columns every Tuesday and Thursday.

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