Carl Steward of the MediaNews chain (Oakland Tribune/San Jose Mercury News) recently gave his two cents regarding the A's owners' decision to cancel the popular annual FanFest event for the second year in a row. Here's what Steward wrote in his newspaper's Feb. 6, 2010, edition:
"*Rain or shine, the Giants expect a huge crowd for their fanfest at AT&T Park today. The A's? They're expecting a huge echo after canceling their once-popular fanfest for a second straight season.
*The A's will tell you their incredibly lame Fan Appreciation Tailgate, this year slated for April 3 before a Bay Bridge Series game, serves as their new fanfest. Right, nothing like getting people excited about baseball at the last minute.
*Here's the real truth: The demise of the A's fanfest — attended by 12,500 people two years ago, producing 35,000 ticket sales and significant financial contributions to charity — is just another clear sign the Lew Wolff/John Fisher ownership not only is ignoring the East Bay fan base but seeks to discourage it. You pick your own appropriate word, here's mine: reprehensible."
While FanFest is nothing more than a marketing tool, it offered A's fans a chance to escape from the winter doldrums and get excited about sunshine and baseball. It made sense from a business perspective, too. Lines of fans wanting to purchase single-game tickets always snaked around the corner. In 2006, Opening Night was pretty much sold out by the end of the day. It also gave a boost to season ticket sales ... and A's sales reps would accompany prospective season ticket buyers to where their seats could be. Merchandise sales would also get a strong boost, especially with the opportunity for fans to buy rare game-used merchandise. One cannot also ignore the fan-friendly things like clubhouse tours, autograph sessions, Q&As between players and fans and games for kids.
Most of all, FanFest never cost the A's anything and they had more to lose than gain by ending it. It makes one wonder why an organization would ever cancel such an event.