What would you do to improve how the A's owners market the franchise to Oakland and the Bay Area? Unfortunately, Lew Wolff and John Fisher do such a bad job of marketing the A's, there's nowhere to go but up.
So, we're taking the initiative ourselves. Here is Part One of what will be a recurring multi-part series on things the A's can do themselves to sell more tickets:
Improve the Media Strategy: Right now, the A's media strategy is a disaster and has been for years. Meanwhile, the Giants have had KNBR as its 50-thousand-watt mouthpiece promoting the team every day on the radio. What have Wolff and Fisher countered with? Making A's fans search each year for a new TV channel and radio station — often with weak signals — almost every single year, making it hard for even die-hard A's fans to follow their team on the dial. On TV, the A's games are currently broadcast on CSN California. And for radio, they’re on XTRA Sports 860 (KTRB), which sometimes airs polarizing political pundit Michael Savage before A's games while the Giants offer baseball talk (Imagine that?) with popular ex-A's pregame host Marty Lurie. It’s not even a close fight. Then they wonder why ratings are down.
Make Billy Beane a Visible Part of the Advertising: As long as he keeps trading away fan-favorite players, then Beane will continue to be the one consistent face of the franchise — for better or for worse. So, he and the A's should fully embrace that and use his image in the team's advertising and marketing. Instead, Beane in recent years has kept an oddly low profile. Why not use the same charisma and fame that prompted Michael Lewis' bestseller, Moneyball? The timing would be especially good with the Moneyball movie set to hit movie theaters in 2011.
Keep the Westside Club Restaurant Open After Day Games: Whenever I catch an A's day game at the Coliseum, I want to linger and enjoy the experience afterward by getting a hamburger and a beer while watching more baseball and highlights on TV. Instead, security hustles fans out of there like they’re unwanted house guests. Why not leave the Westside Club open for hours after an A’s game, and take the money that A’s fans want to spend for the chance to extend their baseball fix? A's fans are willing to overpay to enjoy the A's experience. Yet, the fans aren’t encouraged by management to spend their postgame money. Maybe they don't want to bother with these efforts because, either way, Wolff and Fisher pocket $30 million in welfare checks each year from other MLB owners.
Hold Cricket Sporting Matches at the Coliseum: In Oakland, Berkeley, and other East Bay cities such as Fremont and Union City, there are very large Indo-American and Pakistani-American populations. For these communities, the game of cricket is their biggest sporting passion, and many residents play in local cricket leagues. The A's should offer promotions where they let fans into the Coliseum early and hold cricket matches before A's games. Even if they're short exhibitions and not real matches, it's just one more way of reaching untapped markets and extending a hand to community groups that often aren’t courted by sports teams.
Screen Classic Baseball Movies at the Coliseum: Show baseball-related movies like Field of Dreams, or old family-friendly classics like Take Me Out to the Ballgame (Gene Kelly & Frank Sinatra), in the Coliseum's Westside Club or Eastside Club. It would be another source of revenue; fans will pay for popcorn, hot dogs, and other concessions, and there could be a ticket kiosk nearby waiting to sell A's tickets after the movie has gotten fans fired up about baseball. These events could be held before or after home games, or when the A's are on the road, or even during the off-season to remind fans that spring training is just around the corner.
None of this isn't meant to disparage the hard-working rank-and-file in the A's marketing department. Those employees do their best with a very limited budget and very little incentive from above to actually make it work in Oakland. That's why we’re offering our ideas and solutions.
Someone has to.
If you have ideas of your own, please email them to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll share them with our readers.