In September of 1997, when the San Francisco Giants were on their way to winning the National League West division, they had four home games where they drew just 13,100 fans or less. In fact, they had one game -- on Sept. 4 -- where they drew just 8,565 fans.
In the last month of 1998 -- a year after winning the West -- the Giants tied for the Wild Card. And they had seven home games where they drew just 16,795 fans or less. Game attendance bottomed out at 10,160 on Sept. 1, and even on Sept. 23rd -- the season's 158th game -- the Giants drew just 13,915 fans.
The bad attendance in the heat of a pennant race had Giants owners, the media and MLB officials worried that the Giants were making a huge mistake by bankrolling their new downtown ballpark, which was set to open just 18 months after this very disappointing attendance.
Well, we all know how it turned out. Pacific Bell Park opened in 2000 and was (and still is) a huge success. The Giants did a 180 at the box office, drawing 3.3 million fans and winning the NL West.
Why do we care?
Well, as we get ready to post this 30 minutes before the A's first game of the last home stand of the year, we know damn well that Lew Wolff is desperate to badmouth A's fans and to make an issue out of attendance in these last six games. Just look at last weekend in the Big Apple, when instead of trying to sell tickets by talking about how excited he is by the team's surprising success, Wolff just whined to the New York press.
No matter what the attendance numbers are this week, Wolff will try to blame it all on the city of Oakland and loyal A's fans. Problem for Wolff is that his argument is baseless and doesn't hold up. As the Giants owners can tell you, they were getting terrible attendance in September during pennant races right up until their new ballpark opened.
Wolff can have that in Oakland, too. But he stubbornly refuses to work with Oakland politicians on a new Oakland ballpark. Oakland isn't the obstacle to a new ballpark and sold out crowds. Wolff is. He'll try to make September attendance an issue. It's not. Just ask the Giants.