A’s selling cheapest tickets in MLB to fill stands

Oakland Athletics, Las Vegas
May 23, 2015; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Oakland Athletics hat, glove and ball lay in the dugout at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland A’s are offering their fans the best bargain in baseball.

For $19.99 per month, fans can purchase a Ballpark Pass. Depending on availability, that grants access to every home game on the team’s schedule from June 1 on.

Some of the premium games in that stretch include a three-game series against the Washington Nationals (June 2-4), four games against the New York Yankees (June 15-18), three against the Cleveland Indians (July 14-16) and two against the cross-bay rival San Francisco Giants (July 31-August 1).

The A’s are not the only team to do this. The most comparable package is one offered by the Cincinnati Reds. But that’s $10 per month more expensive.

The benefit for the fans is easy. When including the $5 processing fee, the total June-September cost is $84.96. The plan auto-renews on a monthly basis, but fans can cancel as long as they do so by the 20th of the previous month.

So, what are the drawbacks?

One is that the tickets are technically not guaranteed. As Jeremy F. Koo of Athletics Nation noted, “The pass doesn’t get you a particular seat, though one will be assigned to the passholder one or two hours before first pitch if the 47,170-seat Coliseum hasn’t sold out by then.”

But while a sellout may be likely with some of the aforementioned premium series, the A’s generally don’t come anywhere close to selling out their home games.

The other major drawback is that the seats are not transferable. So if you, Bill Smith, were to purchase this plan, then your brother, Tom Smith could not go in your place.

Lastly, it’s worth noting that the Ballpark Pass does not extend into the postseason. Given where the A’s have finished over the last two seasons and where they are in the standings (tied for last in the American League entering May 15), that’s not likely to come up. But if Oakland goes on a miracle run into October baseball, the Ballpark Pass won’t help anyone get into the Coliseum.

Even with those drawbacks, it’s still a great deal for the fans. The question then becomes, how does this help the A’s?

Through the early part of 2017, Oakland has averaged just over 16,000 fans a game — the 29th best total in MLB. In 2016, the Athletics were 29th in baseball at under 19,000. Even in 2014, which was a playoff season, the A’s were 24th in the league, bringing in roughly 25,000 a night.

Even when times are good, the Coliseum is not filled. As Koo detailed, if a fan buys this package and attends every game from June-September, he/she will basically be paying $1.54 per ticket. That’s cheap. But for the A’s, it’s better than an empty seat. Nobody will by a beer, hot dog, and maybe souvenirs from an empty seat.

It’s also a nice ploy to attract casual fans. The Athletics have to compete against a strong entertainment in the Bay Area. Heck, they have to compete against a strong sports and even baseball market. But while San Francisco’s AT&T Park is beautiful and one of the best fan experiences in baseball, it’s not cheap. If a family is looking for a relatively inexpensive way to stay entertained through the summer, Oakland has that.

Lastly, the A’s are going to be moving into a new park in a few years. This is a perfect way for the team to expand its fan base as it heads into a new era.