As with most postseasons, the upcoming MLB playoffs are full of the interesting story lines. Each is unique to the team and city vying for a spot in history. However no team has more to gain from a championship banner than the Oakland Athletics. The A’s have been the darling of the league for some time now. Stuck with a miniscule pay roll, Billy Beane has been able to work baseball magic and now the team is a legitimate contender. Its the ultimate underdog story, and for the first time in years there are real rumblings of a championship run. This could not come at a better time for the A’s, who have by far the worst stadium in sports. The A’s are the only baseball team to share a stadium with a football team. This may be acceptable if this was a new stadium. But its not, in fact its not even a moderately aged stadium as the Coliseum was built in the mid sixties. The Coliseum is so old that when it opened, the A’s called Kansas City home.
Clearly the team needs a new stadium, and San Jose has come up as legitimate option. However the San Francisco Giants own the territory rights in San Jose, and as a result the Athletics only viable option for staying in Northern California isn’t available. Now it may be easy for the MLB to let this slide with a bad team, but how could Bud Selig possibly let a championship team continue to play in the worst stadium in sports? He has even gone so far as to call the Coliseum a “pit” and went on to say that he has a consultant team working on the situation. But the bottom line is that the A’s still play 81 games a season there. The team played more than that last season and will do so again this year.
Despite his recognition of the Coliseum’s futility, Selig has got to be praying the A’s don’t make a run because if they do, the biggest stadium issue in sports will be placed in the limelight. Selig will have to answer to why the team still plays in a stadium with major sewage problems, and why the team cannot move to San Jose. Articles and pieces will flood the papers and television stations highlighting a championship team with a horrible home venue. The issues kept mostly in the dark will soon emerge, and the situation could turn volatile if the sewage issues come up during the World Series. At a time when the attention should be on the teams, it could be on the stadium.This would undoubtedly push the need for a new stadium, and if this team can win it all the league will be forced to make a decision.
Aside from a potential fixing of the stadium issues, the A’s could also experience an extreme culture change that generally accumulates from a championship run. This has been a team most closely associated with losing for most of the past decade, and outside of Oakland the A’s fan base is thin. As the Giants recent winning has shown, a fan base can seemingly pop up out of thin air after a championship run. With a stronger following, the A’s will be able to generate more income and then perhaps be allowed to
increase their spending. Oakland is not a dream destination for the average player, but if they can pay a player closer to top dollar and are clearly a team on the rise, then there might be an increased interest in Oakland. The top tier players may never play there because thats not how the A’s work, but they could sign more mid tier players and also have more money to keep their home grown talent. It could substantially change the A’s fortunes for the foreseeable future.
The fact of the matter is that the results of these playoffs will have a significant affect on the direction of the A’s organization.