OAKLAND COLISEUM

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There’s no denying it: the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum, home of the Oakland A’s, is a relic – a grey hulking concrete behemoth in the middle of a parking lot. It’s a a dump, but I found it a lovable dump, made bearable by the presence of actual baseball fans in the ballpark.

You can drive to the Oakland Coliseum, but you’re probably coming here because you’re in San Francisco for a series at AT&T Park. In that case, you’ll want to hop on BART from downtown SF; it’s a 20 minute ride underneath the bay and into the East Bay area. From the BART station, there’s a walkway over the railroad tracks that leads you directly to the Coliseum.

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There’s nothing good I can say about the exterior of the Oakland Coliseum. It screams 1970; it screams ancient; it screams ugly.

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The interior isn’t much better; I imagine the only reason I found it at all tolerable is that in many ways it reminded me of my late, lamented Shea Stadium. It was worn but I didn’t find it to be filthy, the way I felt about some areas of Shea. The bathrooms weren’t great but they weren’t terrible either – again, at least they were clean and well-maintained. It could have been so much worse.

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I’m impressed with a fanbase that shows up to represent, even against the Red Sox on a Monday night. At least 50% of the fans in the ballpark were A’s fans, and they would not be shouted down by the Red Sox fans.

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The mascot is Stomper. He is an elephant, and he is very active, and very friendly (or so maintains my boyfriend, who ran into him while getting a soda and had a photo taken with him).

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There were parts of Oakland that were a little too provincial, a little too minor league for my liking; the organized cheering section in left field, the in-game narrator between every inning. If people aren’t coming to games, it’s not because they need more in-game entertainment.

The scoreboard is, well, ancient. There was something quaint about it.

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The bullpens are on the field. Aside from that detail, I don’t have much to offer in the way of commentary on “Ballpark Features”. I also would strongly advise you to eat in advance. I had what a friend had (a bratwurst) and was fairly queasy later. Really, it’s my own fault. It should go without saying that the ballpark in the middle of the parking lot has nothing around it to recommend itself; its proximity to the airport means that there are hotels and fast food a short drive away, but I can’t imagine why you’d stay out there when you could stay in San Francisco.

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We bought our seats when the tickets went on sale, believe it or not, because when we think “Red Sox” we think “game sells out everywhere because Red Sox Nation are insane”. We actually had nice seats, but then were stuck with an extra pair when people bailed on us, and had to sell them at a loss. If I was headed here and wasn’t traveling specifically to see games at this ballpark I would have just walked up and bought a pair of tickets day of game. They offer specials constantly via social media – there were 50% off tickets for the game I attended in certain sections.

I am glad to have checked it off the list, but could only see myself returning in exceptional circumstances. It’s just not a comfortable or cheerful place to watch a ballgame. It lacked any of the grace of, say, the old Shea Stadium – that would make you want to try to save it. I hate to watch fans lose their team to another city, but short of blowing this place up and starting over, or building something new across the parking lot, I can’t see any reason to keep this place.

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