Oakland has supported the A's for 38 years, and this rich history cannot be compromised. A's fans have celebrated and suffered with this team, and almost two generations of A's fans have lived with their team playing Oakland. Help Keep the A's in Oakland and fight the move. Feel free to voice your opinion on topics by making comments on posts. Please, add your name or screen name to your comments, because the validity of your comment is hurt by being anonymous. Thanks and Go A's

Friday, May 19, 2006

River Cats fastest to five-million fans

Raley field opened in 2000, and has become one of the most beloved ballparks in the minors. With a seating capacity of a little less than 15 thousand, it only took the fanchise about 6 years to draw their five-millionth fan. The Cats are believed to be the fastest to reach that mark in Minor League history. Nina Muma was lucky 5 million and won two free trips: a ride around the warning track before the game (plus throwing out the first pitch) and a trip to Hawaii. She also won free River Cat tix for a year. Wow Nina! Talk about an ownership that respects and acknowledges it's fans. The people of Sacramento love their Cats and Raley field, and Alan Ledford, River Cats president, has figured out a way to create a really fan-friendly environment in his park. The combination of a competitive team, a decent stadium, and a fan-friendly ownership has made the River Cats one of the most successful minor league fanchises over the last 10 years.

Walter Haas was able to do this. Where Charlie 'O alienated many people and the A's didn't draw well even with a winning team, Haas understood how to deal with the masses and create a personal and friendly environment at his games and with the city. Schott and Hofmann lost that touch, and ran the fanchise into the ground. Wolff has yet to come close to Haas's level, but he shows signs he is capable of having human emotions and wanting to interact with his fans (i.e. sitting with common fans during games and doing interviews during broadcasts). If Wolff wants to reach that level, where fans are loyal to the team whether or not they are winning, he has to show respect and friendliness to the fans, and create an environment at A's games where a game becomes an experience not just another game. He can do this in his new staidum, but...

If Wolff can get a deal done in Oakland, and builds a stadium within the city, he will become a hero and legend among A's fans. Fans will love Lew Wolff and become even more loyal to the fanchise, especially if the park is as he says it will be. It won't matter to fans where he puts the park, next to the Coliseum or downtown, fans will go. If Wolff decides to leave Oakland, even if it's only 20 miles away, many A's fans will be hurt and disappointed, especially the ones that live North of the present Coliseum. The Haas family sold the team at a lower price to a buyer who would promise to keep the team in Oakland; the team has managed to remain the "Oakland" A's so far. The Raley field experience is one to model, and if he builds in Oakland, Wolff will get his name on a jersey on the outfield wall next with Haas.


Blogger Georob said...

Walter Haas was from an extremely wealthy family that was supported many charitable causes. He saw the A's as a public entity as opposed to a business, and was willing to lose money on them(and probably did in the early years)

He also operated in a different time. Baseball was not yet dependent on corporate sales, box seating, and naming rights as they are today. Had he lived longer and kept the team, I'm sure he would have handled the new economics differently than Schott and Wolff did. We'll never know.

As fans, we can only do three things: Support the owners, NOT support the owners(as many have) or find a better owner to buy the team(good luck)

Or find city officials to work with the owners...

5/19/2006 3:19 PM

Blogger drummer510 said...

How do you explain Raley field then? or Pac Bell Park or St. Louis? You can be fan friendly and still make money; it doesn't have to be a "public entity".

5/20/2006 1:17 AM

Blogger Georob said...

At one time or another over the last five years, the Rivercats have probably had the best team in all the minor leagues. (And most of them are now in Oakland as a result)

Haas not only spent money on the "fan experience", but on player salaries, too. So did the Giants(Bonds) and Cardinals(Mulder)
But if I recall, the A's had the highest payroll in MLB baseball after their three World Series trips (from 88-90).

So yes, I DO believe that the A's could be spending more in that respect, and Lew Wolff has shown that he's willing to do so. But otherwise the comparsions to the Haas era are just not applicable for reasons I posted before.

Walter Haas saved baseball for Oakland for at least 30 years, assuming the team stays at the Coliseum through 2010. And by OK'ing the Giants territorial claim
to San Jose, he unknowingly saved baseball for the East Bay as well;
especially if they keep the name "Oakland" A's.

Work on the Oakland politicians, my friend.

5/20/2006 4:16 PM

Blogger Marine Layer said...

Sacramento and Memphis are wonderful examples of public-private partnerships and innovative ownership. However, economies of scale don't allow those examples to work when moved from the AAA model to the MLB model.

Raley Field is a publicly-funded stadium, built in West Sacramento because it wasn't politically viable in Sacramento. Goals set to pay off the stadium bonds were easily reachable with decent attendance, and the RiverCats have overachieved significantly in that regard. Look at it this way: the A's 2006 payroll is over $60 million. The RiverCats' is probably less than $1 million.

5/21/2006 1:57 PM

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