Sports

Last Team Standing

Nine professional championship banners have been hung in the City of Oakland — four by the Oakland Athletics, three by the Golden State Warriors, and another two by the Oakland Raiders, excluding titles won by any of the franchises in other cities (Philadelphia and Los Angeles). I’ve been fortunate enough to have lived through each team winning the chip.

However, very much like the memorable Mickey Mouse Club song, now it’s time to say goodbye to O-a-k-la-nd for both the Golden State Warriors and the soon-to-be Las Vegas Raiders. The last team standing will be the Oakland Athletics, a team that has pledged to announce the construction of a new ballpark in 2017, somewhere in the City of Oakland. The team has aggressively pushed its catchy #RootedInOakland hashtag throughout various marketing campaigns and social media outlets. I have to admit, I kinda like it! It’s definitely nice to have a commitment of sorts as a fan.

For all intents and purposes, the Oakland Coliseum, the only place in American professional sports where a MLB and NFL team still share a stadium, is comparatively a surefire dump. Sewage problems have consistently greeted both fans and players over the years, the concourse food is the worst in the business, the stadium looks like an ancient California prison (actually, photos of San Quentin look better from the outside!), and the team plays baseball on a football field at the 50-yard line come August. Or is it the 20? Seems it changes every year, I honestly can’t keep up.

Make no mistake about it though, we love our baseball team and our stadium (at least for now). There are very few venues that when you walk in, die-hard, volunteer drummers are laying down tracks from the bleachers. A jingle for each player and a few mixed-in horns to keep the crowd from growing weary at any point in time. There’s no other professional sports venue where you can still bring your own food (sans the cooler), generously sprawl out and have a family picnic for less than $75. Most of all, you know that if anyone in the stadium is wearing green-and-gold that, dammit, they’re a REAL FAN. Truth-be-told, there’s no glory in being an A’s fan these days — everything is for the love of the team and the game itself. So yeah, attending an A’s game is kind of like a big love fest — we still do the wave like it’s the 80’s and trade seats without making it into a big deal…just scoot down! The only rule is to simply have fun and enjoy the ballgame, which we do better than any other fanbase in MLB.

At the moment, Oakland is one of the hottest real estate markets in the country and the Bay Area as a whole commands some of the highest salaries we’ve ever seen. Yet still, teams have chosen to leave the City of Oakland. For the Warriors, there is surely more earning power in a San Francisco venue that can attract professional sports teams, as well as other performances and conferences throughout the year. The Warriors fanbase will certainly change, as it already has somewhat (welcome newbies!), but the name ‘Golden State’ and not Oakland, coupled with a few recent championships in tow and a nearby stadium, allows us to give them a pass.

The Raiders, on the other hand, will always command a love-hate relationship. We’ve seen them come and go, and at this point, we just kind of treat them like our child — they’ll come back home when they need help and we’ll hug them with open arms and laugh about old times.

As for the A’s, yes, a ‘Jack London Field’ off-the-water would be a dream. Even new digs downtown or in the same train-accessible spot where the Oakland Coliseum exists now would be great. The main point being is that it’s nice to know that the team is staying and looking toward the future in building a world class venue. After all, the new stadium will surely attract it’s fair share of potential sponsors from the likes of homegrown companies such as Google, Uber, PayPal et al, though an iconic name like Camden Yards feels more appropriate.

With a new stadium comes higher prices and a new vibe of course, but that’s a part of change. Hopefully having a team roster of names that we can remember and a few new championship banners will be the tradeoff. For now, we’ll happily take the $10 seats for a chill time after a long day’s work or hooky on Wednesdays. As long as the drummers are still allowed to tap-tap-tap and the Holy Toledo sign is hung in its new place in the outfield, we’re good!

(This article was originally published on July 5, 2017)