SBD/August 14, 2012/Franchises

Despite On-Field Success, A's Struggle To Match Bay Area Rival Giants At The Gate

A's success has been overshadowed by popularity of Giants
While the A's and Giants are both enjoying success on the field this season, the two teams “sit at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to the fan experience at the ballpark and their viability in their market,” according to a sports section cover story by Jorge Ortiz of USA TODAY. The teams have co-existed in the Bay Area since the A’s moved to Oakland in ‘68. But at a time “when the Giants are enjoying, by several measures, an unprecedented level of popularity, the A’s inability to flourish at the box office as they do on the field has perhaps never been more pronounced.” The teams’ “disparity of more than 21,000” in their average attendance ranks as the “largest by far among baseball’s five two-team markets.” The Giants have drawn “at least 2.8 million fans every season” since opening AT&T Park in ‘00, selling out their “last 142 games through Sunday, the second-longest active streak” in MLB. By contrast, the A’s “surprising run at a playoff spot has been witnessed by the second-smallest average crowd in the majors." Subtracting the two crowds “of more than 43,000 the A’s drew as the home team in their season-opening series in Tokyo, their attendance at the Coliseum ranks last in baseball.” A’s Owner Lew Wolff, who has been pushing for MLB to approve the team's relocation to San Jose, said, “The destination we want is to have an exciting, modern, baseball-only venue that doesn’t get interrupted by pro football. We need all the things other teams have -- sponsorships, a significant number of season ticketholders, just the normal things.” Ortiz notes A’s attendance has “shrank every year" from '03 to '09. The team’s “flagging support, unsettled stadium situation and small payroll … makes it all the more remarkable that they have stayed in the wild-card race” (USA TODAY, 8/14).
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