I made my first trip to Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum this past week to catch an Interleague match-up between my favorite team, the Cincinnati Reds, and the hometown A’s. It was an enjoyable experience overall and impressed me more than I thought.
WHAT I LIKED
--Transportation: We were staying in downtown San Francisco and took the BART directly to the stadium ($3.80 per person from our entry point) in less than 30 minutes. There was also plenty of parking all around venue (estimated $20) for fans to drive to the game too.
--History: If there is one thing Oakland has is a long and storied history and that was put on display throughout the ballpark. From banners boasting milestones to the numerous World Championship tributes, the A’s organization made it clear to their fans that they are proud of their history.
--Bullpens: With so many new stadiums having the bullpens in the outfield, it was nice to go to a game where the bullpens were still down the foul lines. We sat three rows back right on the A’s bullpen on the third base side and had a great seat to see Oakland’s pitchers warm-up up close.
--Fans: I was surprised and appreciative of how many hardcore fans surrounded our seats in Section 126. Most of the fans I spoke to were not only extremely passionate about their team, but also possessed an above average knowledge of the game of baseball and the history of their franchise.
--Concessions: Though it didn’t blow me away like some of other parks I visited, I did enjoy a great variety of foods and beers that were available. The stadium offered more than just your typical hot dog and Cracker Jacks and most everything was fairly based, especially by California standards. I recommend the chicken nachos and pork barbecue!
--Top Deck Closed: The stadium holds nearly 65,000 fans for Raiders’ games, but the A’s close out the entire upper deck to make the setting a bit more intimate for baseball action. Covering the seats are circles with the years inside of them for all the teams championships both in Oakland and previous to the team’s arrival among other tributes.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
--Outside the ballpark: There was some decent tailgating going on, but not much of anything else to do in the area where the stadium was located. With time to spare we went in early and watched batting practice.
--Mount Davis: Many locals told me that the stadium isn’t as good as it used to be and all of them blame it on the same thing – Mount Davis. They are referring to the luxury boxes that consume the outfield that Raiders’ Al Davis insisted be built when he brought his team back to Oakland after 14 years in Los Angeles back in 1995.
--Too Much Field: Because the stadium is a multi-purpose facility it possesses one of baseball’s largest foul territories. Despite having third-row seats along third base it seemed as if the field of play was a miles away.
--Scoreboard: Not only was the scoreboard visible quality a bit behind the times, it lacked some of the in-game and real-time data that other stadiums have spoiled me with. I wasn’t overly impressed with the graphics either.
OVERALL GRADE: 87