It’s no secret that the Oakland A’s are struggling with attendance. They’ve been struggling in that department for years. 2022 is a whole different monster for the A’s, though. After two series on the road to open the season, the A’s came back home to a modest crowd of 17,503. That number dropped drastically for Game 2 of the series, when attendance fell nearly 80 percent to 3,748. Game 3 wasn’t any better, as attendance dropped even further to just 2,703. The A’s did see an uptick in attendance again four days later for the final game of their series against division rival Texas, although that game (11,083 fans in attendance) still could not match attendance at the A’s home opener.
National media has taken notice. Everywhere you look there are rumors circulating as to how attendance could have gotten this bad. Are A’s fans finally done with the perpetual state of rebuilding that the team has gone through since the late 2000's? Are fans turned away by all the feral cats running around RingCentral Coliseum? Maybe the fans just aren’t interested in a team that has no interest in staying in Oakland? Why would fans want to go to games after all of their best players were traded away AND ticket prices and parking just went up? There’s a multitude of reasons why A’s fans aren’t going to games, and most of the blame for this lack of attendance can be placed on the team’s front office and its unwillingness to listen to fans. Perhaps if the A’s lowered ticket prices, shelled out some decent money on free agents, and actually attempted to reach the postseason after finishing five games out of a playoff spot one year ago, fans would support their team.
That’s what the front office should do. Do you know what they absolutely should not do? Try to convince their fans that every team is undergoing similar attendance problems, yet that’s exactly what Team President Dave Kaval tried to do last night.
This tweet was the first of what would be many tweets criticizing the Giants’ lack of attendance last night, during the first game of the Bay Bridge series. Kaval would wind up retweeting A’s fans and their pictures showing empty seats at Oracle Park. He would criticize the San Francisco media for pushing the narrative that the A’s are struggling with attendance without mentioning how poorly the Giants have been doing. All of these would be great points...if any of them were true. In actuality, the Giants didn’t really have an attendance problem last night. According to Baseball Reference, last night’s game against the Giants had an attendance of 32,898. That’s about 78.5 percent of max occupancy (41,915).
Those 32,898 fans in attendance last night are more than any four-game stretch the A’s have had all season. Furthermore, the Giants haven’t had a single home game this year with attendance lower than 20,000. Their lowest on the season was April 11, the first game of a series against the Padres. There were 23,279 fans there. That’s more than the A’s had their entire opening series against Baltimore.
The Giants are eleventh in MLB in average home attendance this year. In 2021, they were twelfth and averaged almost 12,000 fewer fans per home game. Obviously, this year’s numbers will decrease as we get into the middle of the season, but this is still a good start for the Giants. At the 20-game mark last season, the Giants drew 19,000 fans total for their series with the Miami Marlins. Of course, the Giants had zero expectations to be good last year, so that probably played a part in the lack of attendance, but based on last year’s numbers, the Giants are actually much better off now than they were a year ago. The same can’t be said about the Athletics.
There’s always the chance that the numbers are being fudged and the Giants aren’t actually bringing in that many fans. The pictures that Kaval was retweeting would certainly push that narrative, but they’re also taken out of context. For example, take a look at this picture that Kaval retweeted:
The stands are sparse, but definitely not what you’d see at an A’s game this year. Also, this picture was taken in between the first and second inning of last night’s game. As someone who grew up in the Bay Area and went to a lot of Giants and A’s games in their youth, I can tell you that for night games on weekdays, fans usually don’t start showing up until a little later. Furthermore, since it was taken in between innings, there was no action going on. That’s the perfect time for fans to get up out of their seats and stroll around the ballpark looking for friends or standing in line for concessions. There were most likely dozens of people in attendance who were occupying those seats just moments before that picture was taken.
No matter which way you slice it, the A’s are the team with the biggest attendance problem in MLB right now. They’re averaging 7,942 fans per home game, just barely more than half of the next closest team, the Pittsburgh Pirates (13,118). The blame should be pinned on the front office, and as much as they’d like to believe that every other MLB team is suffering attendance-wise, that’s just not true. Congrats Kaval, you made your bed when you traded away Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, and Sean Manaea. Now lie in it. Stop trying to push false narratives about your competitors that are at least trying to field a competitive team in 2022.