The Oakland Athletics have reportedly denied the newly minted Oakland Ballers of the Pioneer League the opportunity to play a June game at the Coliseum.
According to the Ballers' Twitter account, the team reportedly had a deal in place with the Athletics to lease out the Coliseum for a single game on June 29th. The Ballers claim that they had signed the lease and paid a portion of the down payment to the A's for the event, but the Athletics chose to walk away from the deal. The tweet includes a promotional video, seen below.
The video includes a statement at the end, "baseball in the place that you love, with a team that loves you back". Poignant.
It's so on par for the Athletics to develop a deal like this only to walk away at the last minute. It's doubtful that the Ballers would have filled the Coliseum, but I'd guess that they would have drawn a decent size crowd.
I have to imagine that John Fisher and the A's were genuinely concerned about being outdrawn at their own stadium by an independent league team. That could be part of why they walked from the deal.
The promo also concludes that the Coliseum belongs to the people of Oakland. That's not technically true, but it is in spirit. We don't know what Fisher has planned for the space in the event that the Athletics do end up moving to Las Vegas, but he will have a 50% stake in the site and any decisions made about its future will have to consider his side of the argument.
It's deeply unfortunate that this deal has fallen apart. It would have been a great marketing opportunity for the Ballers, and would have been a signal from the Athletics that they have some semblance of affinity for the city of Oakland.
Fans recognize that the A's don't care anymore, and that's a big part of the severe decline in attendance over the past three years. Fisher can't get the team out of this city fast enough. The fans are just reacting to his actions.
In the end, the Ballers likely won't play at the Coliseum this summer. It's possible the two parties renegotiate the deal but the bad press that would come from it might be enough to keep Fisher and the A's away from the bargaining table. This is just the latest in a long line of negative outcomes for the A's, and they have nobody to blame but themselves.