The Oakland Coliseum opened up to 100 percent capacity for the first time since the COVID pandemic for the A’s game against the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night to a surprisingly empty house.
The A’s drew just 4,739 fans after averaging 5,510 for the 42 limited capacity games, the fewest fans for an “open” Coliseum game in 34 years.
Overall, the A’s rank second-to-last in the majors in average home attendance, better than only the Blue Jays, who have been forced to play at their minor league affiliate ballparks this season, first at Dunedin, Florida and now in Buffalo, New York, until Canada allows the team to travel in and out of the country.
Tuesday’s game didn’t figure to be a huge draw — a Tuesday night against the Rangers, who are in last place and own the second-worst record in the American League. Even A’s officials are calling Friday night’s series opener against the Boston Red Sox the official reopening.
But the A’s are fighting for another division title and had drawn fairly well earlier in the season, attracting several crowds of more than 7,000 despite health restrictions that capped capacity at 12,000.
The empty house was even more dramatic juxtaposed with the crowds of 35,000-plus the A’s played in front of during the Bay Bridge Series over the weekend at Oracle Park, the first games at that facility played without COVID restrictions.
Sparse crowds are nothing new at the Coliseum. The A’s infamously played in front of 250 fans (652 tickets were sold) for an April game against the Mariners in 1979 and attendance (or lack of it) for years has been at the heart of the quest for a new ballpark.
The 4,739 fans on Tuesday were the fewest for a game without COVID restrictions since 4,114 fans watched the A’s lose — also to the Rangers — in mid-September of 1986. That was toward the end of Jose Canseco’s Rookie of the Year season. Mark McGwire had made his major league debut earlier in the summer, but didn’t play in that game.
Before Tuesday, the A’s hadn’t played at home in front of such a spare crowd since May 30, 2018 when a crowd of 6,705 braved temperatures of 54 degrees at first pitch. The previous low since the 1986 game had been in 2003, when the A’s made up one of the games from their canceled Japan trip for a crowd of 6,295.
The A’s drew fewer than 5,000 fans for 20 of their 42 COVID-restricted games this year. The smallest crowd of the season was 2,865 on May 25 vs. the Mariners.
With a team gunning for a fourth straight postseason and restrictions lifted, can the A’s inch back up toward the 20,521 attendance average from 2019, the last season fans were allowed in the ballpark?
Hope is on the way in the form of the Boston Red Sox and a fireworks show.
A’s officials are expecting at least 30,000 for each of their three upcoming weekend games against the Boston Red Sox. The A’s will host a fireworks show following the game on Friday night.
Oakland’s biggest home crowd came this season on Opening Day, drawing 10,436 with the ballpark at limited capacity. And 8,000-10,000 filled the Coliseum seats for a weekend series against Shohei Ohtani and the Los Angeles Angels on Memorial Day weekend.
The A’s were the last of the five California Major League Baseball teams to open up their ballpark to fans at full capacity. The A’s returned from a three-city road trip to New York, Texas and San Francisco after the official June 15 state of California reopening. Since Opening Day, the A’s were operating at 33% capacity with restrictions that included consistent mask-wearing and mobile concessions.
— Per the A’s statement on opening up the Coliseum to full capacity, some of the health and safety measures remain in place, including cashless transactions, mobile-only ticketing and concession pickup. Mask wearing is not enforced, but the A’s encourage fans to be fully vaccinated or obtain a negative COVID-19 test prior to attending.