Tuesday, March 2, 2021

What Could a 20% Capacity Coliseum Feel Like?

The A's are selling "Flex Tickets," hoping for 20-25% capacity based on state and county restrictions. All-in-all, most games could look and sound almost "normal."

In 2019, the last time fans were able to attend, the team averaged a little more than 20,500 fans. The Coliseum is the sixth-largest MLB stadium by capacity at a listed 47,170 available seats. 20% of that total is 9,434. But, if Mount Davis is opened up, capacity swells to 55,945 with 20% equating to 11,189. Restrictions will likely include teams and stadium personnel in the count, bumping down the fan attendance somewhat. 

Looking at the 2019 gate numbers, 10,000 fans a game is functionally half of an "average" crowd, which is often much smaller -- particularly during the weekdays. The home opener, fireworks and giveaway days will suffer the most. Pods will also dampen enthusiasm and make for strange visuals.

How might it all come together?

The Good

In terms of the ballpark, the A's, at least in this very narrow instance, owe a hat tip to the late Al Davis for his taxpayer-funded centerfield seat mountain. In an age where distance is needed, the Coliseum has plenty -- if it chooses to use them all.

The Foul Territory (Maybe)

This will be an interesting one. Most clubs have a modern ballpark where fans are much closer to the players. The A's large amount of foul territory on either side of the diamond provides a lot of space from the bullpens and players. If an "X" number of rows from the field prohibition on fans is imposed league-wide, A's fans may be unnecessarily restricted.

Food Concessions (Maybe)

Most games, the A's do not open all food concessions -- as there are simply not enough fans. As you get to the cheap seats in the upper deck they get pretty sparse. The team could open more stands and provide more distancing. But, the extra staffing might make this cost-prohibitive. There is also the issue that the "premium" offerings are all found in the lower bowl, potentially creating crowds.

Food Trucks

Outdoors, with space.

The Bad

The BART Bridge

Yikes. After even modestly attended games this can clog up at both sides and in the walkway. Maybe the solution is a crowd control professional to "meter" entrance? Density may also prove tricky for the bridge's vendors.


BART's key role in funneling fans to the Coliseum leads to packed cars, even for modestly attended games. Fans without cars are particularly at a disadvantage. There is also the issue of platforms, where spacing again will be challenging.

Lower Concourses

Tight and not a lot of air movement. Workers are also basically working in a dungeon, a sharp contrast to the closer-to-the-field/open air concessions at the Giants ballpark.

The Bleachers

The left and right field bleacher fans are awesome and the sections are generally more packed than most areas. The drumming, the signs and the flags are key elements of the "A's" experience. While needed, spacing in these sections will be impactful and pods may be hard to enforce.

The Maybe

The Clubhouse

The team already announced that A's All Access won't be in effect for 2021. The Clubhouse is intended to be a gathering space, with both indoor and outdoor features. It will be curious to see how this space is handled.

The Sad

Beerfest and Root Beer Float Day

Not happening indoors anyway. 

Hopefully Fosse can resume his yearly scooping, albeit this time in the parking lot.

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