According to a report from Janie McCauley of the Associated Press, two members of the Oakland City Council have sent a letter to Oakland Athletics leadership demanding an explanation on why the A's chose to deny the Oakland Ballers the chance to play a late summer Pioneer League game at the Coliseum.
The two members, Rebecca Kaplan and Kevin Jenkins, sent the letter to the A's on Monday afternoon. Per the AP report, the letter calls into question the reasoning behind why the A's denied the Ballers' request.
The letter relies heavily on explaining how preventing the event from happening will negatively impact local jobs and revenue. Operating the Coliseum requires a significant number of employees, including event staff and public safety officials.
"“Blocking the Oakland Ballers will deny the Oakland community and neighboring fans of the game of baseball from enjoying a community-oriented event. Furthermore, blocking this event from moving forward will negatively impact local jobs and revenue. We are not aware of any impact that would warrant blocking this event.”"- Janie McCauley, Associated Press
Kaplan writes in the letter that "bringing in more events on more dates, specifically the dates the A’s are not using, allows us to create more job opportunity for the community as well as more positive engagement and vitality".
I would tend to agree with Kaplan and Jenkins here that the event would be a positive one for the Oakland community. It would provide great exposure for the Ballers, give fans a great reason to spend a night at the Coliseum [which the A's would profit off of, by the way], and also keep the employees engaged and making money.
In my opinion, it seems like this would be a win for all sides. Even the A's, who would likely get some good press out of the deal. However, they've chosen to block the deal from happening, citing that they have exclusivity of the site and are the only professional team allowed to play on the premises.
It's hard for Athletics fans to look at this situation and not see the team being nervous about the Ballers outselling them at their own stadium. The A's have been last in the league in attendance two years running, and narrowly edged Miami in 2021.
Their outward neglect of the on-field product has caused fans to walk away in droves. They drew just over 830k fans in 2023, over 300k behind the Marlins who finished 29th. In a year where league-wide attendance was way up year over year, the A's flatlined. Pictures of an empty Coliseum were a nightly occurance as the A's have made themselves the laughingstock of the league.
During the reverse boycott this summer, A's fans flocked to the stadium with nearly 30k fans in attendance. It's tough to imagine the reaction from the A's and the league if they had that kind of turnout for a Pioneer League team when their whole reasoning behind why Oakland is an unsuitable market is because there are no fans here.
Unfortunately for everyone, the Ballers won't get to play at the Coliseum this year. The Athletics will likely ignore the letter from the City Council, as they have no reason to acknowledge it or explain why they blocked the deal. It's another thorn in the side of A's fans and the Oakland community, but that's just the way Fisher and Kaval want things to be at the moment.