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A's to offer more fan-friendly stadium12/21/2005 6:44 PM ET
By Mychael Urban / MLB.com
OAKLAND -- The third deck at McAfee Coliseum, traditionally packed when the Yankees visit the A's, will be empty when the Bronx Bombers roll into town for the 2006 season opener Monday, April 3.
It'll be empty for the second and third games of the three-game series, too -- and for the 78 home dates that follow. Along with announcing their schedule for the upcoming season, the A's announced that they're closing the third deck, thus reducing the listed baseball capacity of the multi-use stadium the club shares with the NFL's Raiders from 44,073 to 34,179.
The new baseball capacity is the lowest in the Major Leagues -- Pittsburgh's PNC Park, which holds 38,496, is now the second-lowest -- and, said A's public relations director Jim Young, "more in line with the seating capacity that has been proposed for our new ballpark."
On Aug. 14, new A's owner Lew Wolff presented his proposal for a 35,000-seat, baseball-only stadium at a meeting of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority.
"As we continue our efforts to secure a new ballpark in Oakland, we will take every measure to make the Coliseum a comfortable and fan-friendly facility," A's president Michael Crowley said in a release Wednesday. "Our goal is to create a more intimate ballpark atmosphere and bring our seating capacity in line to what we have proposed for our new venue."
According to Young, 144 fans held some sort of a season ticket plan in the third deck for the 2005 season -- six of those were full-season plans at $8 per seat -- and 90 percent of those fans have been relocated to second-deck seats.
"From various surveys that have been conducted over the years, the view of the action from the third deck was among the worst in baseball," Young noted. "The demand for those seats, whether on a game-by-game basis or part of a season ticket package, did not justify making that inventory available any longer."
Only 19 of the A's 81 home dates last year necessitated making third-deck seating available, and 15 of those were for traditionally popular dates: Opening Night, Yankees, Red Sox and Giants games, "Double Play Wednesdays," and fireworks games.
"Double Play Wednesdays," for which fans can purchase $2 tickets and $1 hot dogs, will remain, but in the Plaza Level Outfield and Plaza Level Bleacher sections instead of the third deck.
"Even though we've eliminated the seating in the third deck, we have created other seating options at the ballpark that we feel offer a better view at an affordable price," Crowley said.
To that end, the A's will offer approximately 2,300 Plaza Level Outfield seats, previously priced at $18, for $14. In addition, 3,009 Plaza Level Bleacher seats will be available every game for $10.
"A's Baseball remains one of the most affordable entertainment values in all of sports," Young said. "The average ticket price in 2006 will be $25.48, which still ranks in the lower third in all of baseball. And the average ticket-price increase from 2005 to 2006 will be 7.24 percent, which is the second-lowest increase over the last six seasons and lower than the last two seasons."
Ticket prices increased 9.84 percent from 2004 to 2005, and 7.34 percent from 2003 to 2004.
Eliminating seating in MLB stadiums is not unprecedented; Minnesota and Florida, along with St. Louis and San Diego -- in their old ballparks -- closed sections to create more intimacy. And the White Sox recently underwent an extensive ballpark renovation that included the removal of 6,600 upper-deck seats.
The Twins, Marlins and Padres also operated in multi-purpose stadiums.
The affected seating areas at McAfee Coliseum, as well as the upper-level seating area in the football structure, will be covered with a tarpaulin. Young said the tarp will be decorated to "reflect the team's rich history and take advantage of marketing opportunities."
The Yankees and World Series champion White Sox (Aug. 15-17) will make only one visit each to Oakland in 2006, but the Red Sox visit twice (July 24-26; Aug. 28-30). The Angels will make the first of their three trips to Oakland on April 21-23; they'll also visit July 6-9 and Sept. 22-24.
The first of two Interleague series with the Giants will take place at McAfee Coliseum on May 19-21, with the return set slated for June 23-25 in San Francisco. The A's will play an 18-game Interleague schedule, all against the National League West, that features visits from the Dodgers (June 16-18) and Diamondbacks (June 30-July 2), and road stops in Colorado (June 19-21) and San Diego (June 27-29).
Season-ticket packages starting as low as $126 are currently available at oaklandathletics.com or by calling 510-638-GOA's. Single game tickets will go on sale at the McAfee Coliseum Box Office on Saturday, Jan. 28.
A's pitchers and catchers report to the club's Spring Training facility in Phoenix on Feb. 18, with the first workout scheduled for the next day. The remainder of the squad reports on Feb. 22, with the first full-squad workout scheduled for Feb. 23. The A's open Cactus League play on Thursday, March 2 against the Chicago Cubs in Mesa at 12:05 p.m. PT, with the first game at Phoenix Municipal Stadium slated for Friday, March 3 against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Tickets for all Spring Training games are available now at oaklandathletics.com or by calling 1-877-493-BALL.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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