When the Schott Hits the Fans - 10/11/2002
Thousands of Oakland A’s fans, still stunned and grieving over yet another Game 5 loss in the ALDS on Sunday, had salt poured into their wounds by Owner Steve Schott when he coupled complaints about playoff attendance with comments that he’s reluctant to put his own money into a new Oakland ballpark.
The Oakland A’s Fan Coalition wants to remind fellow fans, members of the media and Mr. Schott himself that his comments about a lack of support are way off base. Attendance was lower than expected for a variety of reasons: notably, the 1:00 p.m. weekday starting times, which were announced less than 24 hours prior to scheduled games.
The single biggest reason, however, was the exorbitant ticket prices the A’s charged for the ALDS -- as much as $35 per ticket for the upper deck and bleacher seats with obstructed views -- while teams like the Minnesota Twins and San Francisco Giants charged $10 or $15 for comparable seating. The most expensive Twins seats cost only $5 more than the cheapest A's seat. The pricing for these seats was such that some fans were not willing to pay even if they could afford them.
As pointed out by several Bay Area columnists, you can’t gouge your customers and then cry poor. Yet, this is precisely what Mr. Schott did this week.
This was unacceptable. "Unadulterated greed, inexcusable and wholly inappropriate," columnist Carl Steward called it. And we agree.
Mr. Schott’s ill-timed and insensitive comments and lack of fan-oriented business practices have been a pattern since he bought the team with the absent and silent Ken Hofmann in 1995. Anytime something goes wrong with the team, he callously blames Oakland fans and the "lack of revenue streams."
Fiscal responsibility to Mr. Schott means invest the least and expect the most, and then point fingers when reality shows this is a flawed strategy.
Yet, contrary to what Mr. Schott intimated, A's fan attendance at Network Associates Coliseum increased for the fourth consecutive year in 2002 when more than 2,169,000 fans came through the turnstiles. As attendance has increased, it is probable that revenue streams have improved. However, payroll has remained second to last in MLB since 2000.
Despite this negativity from ownership, we believe that Oakland A's fans would support Mr. Schott if he would only make a substantial commitment to keeping the A's in Oakland long-term. Schott had such an opportunity this past summer when the City of Oakland and local politicians hired consultants and presented various plans and proposals for an urban ballpark at a downtown site, which would have been beneficial to both the city and the team. However, Schott and the A’s showed no interest and their silence sent a loud and clear message to so many A’s fans who supported the Oakland ballpark project.
The Oakland A’s fan base dwindled from 15,000 season ticket holders in the late 1980’s and close to 3 million in season attendance, to a low of roughly 5,000 season ticket holders in the late 1990’s. The time has come to bring back the fans who have been discouraged by constant threats of moving and statements such as, "The A’s have no future in Oakland", a comment made by Schott in March, 2001.
The Oakland A’s Fan Coalition, representing thousands of fans who have supported this franchise through the ups and downs and rebuilding years to the present, feels the time has come for Mr. Schott to either show a true commitment to Oakland, the team and fans, or step aside by allowing new custodians of the Oakland A’s to take over and bring back those who've been alienated by this ownership's fan-insensitive ways.
Board Members of the Oakland Athletics Fan Coalition are available to further discuss Mr. Schott's comments and other issues of interest to A’s fans. Please contact:
Ron Cope- firstname.lastname@example.org
Chris De Benedetti- email@example.com
Jennifer Medeiros- firstname.lastname@example.org
Eyleen Nadolny- email@example.com
Jerry Oliveira- firstname.lastname@example.org
Lil Bartholo- email@example.com
For more information on the Oakland A's Fan Coalition, please visit http://www.oaklandfans.com
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