Monday, April 3, 2017 was the opening day for the Oakland Athletics Major League Baseball season. Like opening days across the country, A’s fans are joyous once again that their favorite teams are back and baseball is here. But at the the Oakland Coliseum opening day felt like it was more than just a celebration of the beginning of baseball. Fans were trying to celebrate the last major sports team left in Oakland.
In recent months, Oakland sports fans have endured a rough patch with their beloved franchises. The Oakland Raiders are heading off to Las Vegas in 2020, and in January ground was broken for the new arena for the Warriors in San Francisco. And while the A’s have also been looking for a new stadium, they remain the last sports team in Oakland.
The Oakland Coliseum has been operating since 1995, and has since then been the home to the Athletics and the Raiders — the only dual MLB and NFL facility still in existence. But in light of the recent move by the Raiders, the A’s have been taking the opportunity to make their plea for a new stadium. The franchise has used the departure of the Raiders to show how unfair it is for Oakland fans, and how now more than ever Oakland is in need for a new stadium.
In recent years, the A’s have had their sights on four different locations for a new stadium. All locations are still in Oakland, but the A’s are looking for a location closer to the Oakland downtown area for a stadium with an “urban feel” that is more similar to the AT&T park in San Francisco. If the A’s are not able to get the bid to construct a new stadium on the site of the current one, fans could see the end of an era and the complete vacancy of the Oakland Coliseum. The front office of the A’s have spoken about renovating the current Oakland Coliseum; with the Raiders moving, a renovation would be easier. The A’s executives and operations team has also talked about making a commitment to the city of Oakland, especially since two franchises are leaving the city.
The A’s opening day performance indicated that the team wants to stay in Oakland. Playing conference rivals the Anaheim Angels, Stephen Vogt homered to right field in the second inning and the crowd was on their feet. In the bottom of the 6th, Yonder Alonso singled to center and Jed Lowrie scored, making the score 2-1 in favor of the Athletics. Then Oakland outfielder Khris Davis came up to bat and hit a homer to left field. That wasn’t his only homer of the day; Davis smashed one again in the bottom of the 8th to the left center making it two homers for him in his opening day game and making the score 4-2.
As for the state of the crowd on opening day, the fanfare was still there. Folks were tailgating, the new food truck park in the stadium was up and running and the game started with a ceremony to rename the field after Rickey Henderson,a hall of fame A’s player and a hometown boy. Henderson told the crowd before the game that his “heart and soul is forever Oakland.”.
The message through the game was that the A’s are a franchise rooted in Oakland. The A’s do not see themselves leaving the city anytime soon; however, it is hard to tell if that means that there is a future for the Oakland Coliseum.
Photo: Wiki Commons