Best Sport Business Move: A level-headed approach to the problem we call McAfee Coliseum
Closing the Third Deck
For years, season ticket sales for the Oakland A's have been abysmal. The reason was simple: The Coliseum was too big for baseball. Major league owners have known that fact for years -- that's why the most common adjective used to describe all the new ballparks has been "intimate." It's baseball code for smaller is better. With a capacity of more than 50,000, the Coliseum was anything but -- the word "cavernous" comes to mind. Not anymore. This year, A's new owner Lew Wolff decided to close off the stadium's expansive third deck, lowering the capacity to about 35,000. The A's have taken some heat from fans who liked the third-deck cheap seats, but it was a level-headed business move. Why was bigger not better? Couple of reasons. First, A's fans have never had to buy season tickets because the Coliseum rarely sells out. That created problems for team officials. It meant they never knew for sure how many fans to expect at a ballgame, so they didn't know how many staff members they needed for concessions. It also meant they couldn't accurately tell their advertisers how many fans would see their ads each game. From what we hear, season-ticket sales are up this year and the Coliseum is, ahem, a bit more intimate.