The city of Oakland desperately wants to keep their beloved teams, but it’s now become common practice for teams to find a way to reduce the number of fans that can attend games.
In 2006, the A’s decided that covering the entire upper deck with green tarps was a less of an eyesore than 20,000 empty seats.
Now, for the upcoming 2013 NFL season, the Raiders will implement the same tactic in an attempt to give themselves an easier time selling out games. The Raiders won’t close off as many seats, only covering 11,000 seats at the very top of Mount Davis.
Paul Gutierrez of CSNBayArea.com reports that the capacity of O.co Coliseum will drop from 64,200 to 53,200, which appears to be about right for the Raiders. During the 2012 season, they averaged an NFL-worst attendance of 54,216.
In 2011, they averaged 59,242 fans, up from a dismal 2010, when they managed to attract just 46,431 fans to each home game at the Coliseum.
Like A’s fans, Raiders fans that show up are passionate. But not enough fans are showing up, and that causes a problem the Raiders have been dealing with for years: local television blackouts when the game is not sold out 72 hours before kickoff.
Raiders CEO Amy Trask told Gutierrez she hopes this move will help the game-day atmosphere and make sure that the Raiders don’t have to deal with blackout issues as often:
“It’s an ongoing commitment on our part to create a vibrant, vibrant gameday environment with a community of season ticket holders. … Of course, another reason is we want to continue to provide the entire region with our games, live locally on television.”
The Raiders will accommodate all season ticket holders in the impacted sections, moving them to sections on the opposite side of the stadium at the reduced rate.
One potential issue is that, once the tarps go on, they need to stay on. The Raiders can’t remove the tarps for important games at the end of the season. Gutierrez cites an NFL rule that says the tarps must remain on for the entire campaign.
The A’s faced an issue regarding the removal of the tarps during the 2012 playoffs. Fans wanted the tarps in the upper deck removed for the Division Series against Detroit, but A’s management refused. They said they would remove the tarps if the A’s had advanced to the next round of the playoffs.
The leadership groups of these teams think they are doing what’s best for their franchises, but they are actually making their teams and the stadiums the laughing stock of American sports. How many other teams are covering sections of their stadiums with tarps?
Both of these teams are angling for new stadiums. If they get approved, they’d be smart to construct smaller stadiums. Both teams have diehard fan bases, but neither draw well enough consistently, and it’s becoming such a big issue that both teams are resorting to blocking off sections of the stadium.
The Raiders and A’s can learn a lesson from the Giants. When the Giants left Candlestick after the 1999 season, the capacity was 58,000. The official capacity of AT&T Park is 41,503, but with standing room tickets, the Giants draw well over 42,000 for marquee games.
Whether Oakland’s teams get new stadiums there or in another city, both teams need smaller venues so they don’t have to embarrassingly cover up chronically-empty seats.