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Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum

 

 

Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum is a multi-purpose stadium, located in Oakland, California, United States, in the Coliseum Industrial area.

 

It is commonly referred to as The Oakland Coliseum or simply The Coliseum. It was formerly known as Network Associates Coliseum (1998–2004) and McAfee Coliseum (2004–2008) before its original name was restored in 2008.

 

The stadium contains 6,300 club seats (2,700 of these are available for Athletics games) and 143 luxury suites (125 of these are available for Athletics games).

The stadium is part of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum complex, which consists of the stadium and neighboring Oracle Arena.

 

The stadium is currently home to the Oakland Athletics, of MLB and the Oakland Raiders, of the NFL. The stadium was also home to the San Jose Earthquakes, of the MLS, who used the stadium for several larger attendance games, during the 2008 and 2009 seasons. It also hosted some of the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

 

Stadium history

1960s

Business and political leaders in Oakland had long been in competition with its more famous neighbor, San Francisco, as well as other cities in the West, and were also trying for Oakland and its suburbs (the greater East Bay) to be seen nationally as a viable metropolitan area with its own identity and reputation, distinct and separate from that of San Francisco; professional sports was seen as a primary way for the East Bay to gain such recognition. As a result, the desire for a major-league caliber stadium in the city of Oakland intensified during the 1950s and '60s.

 

By 1960, a non-profit corporation was formed to oversee the financing and development of the facility (rather than city or county government issuing taxpayer-backed bonds for construction). Local real estate developer Robert Nahas headed this group (which included other prominent East Bay business leaders such as William Knowland and Edgar F. Kaiser), which later became the governing board of the Coliseum upon completion. It was Nahas' idea that the Coliseum be privately financed with ownership transferring to the city and county upon retirement of the construction financing.

 

Preliminary architectural plans were unveiled in November 1960, and the following month a site was chosen west of the Elmhurst district of East Oakland alongside the then-recently completed Nimitz Freeway. A downtown site adjacent to Lake Merritt and the Oakland Auditorium (which itself, many years later, would be renamed the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center) was also originally considered. The Port of Oakland played a key role in the East Oakland site selection; The Port swapped 157 acres (0.64 km2) at the head of San Leandro Bay to the East Bay Regional Park District, in exchange for 105 acres (0.42 km2) of park land across the freeway, which the Port in turn donated to the City of Oakland as the site for the Coliseum sports complex.

 

The Oakland Raiders of the American Football League moved to Frank Youell Field, a makeshift stadium near downtown Oakland, in 1962, and the Coliseum was already being heralded in the local media as the Raiders' future permanent home. Baseball was also a major factor in the planning of the Coliseum. As early as 1961, the American League (AL) publicly indicated that it wished to include Oakland in its West Coast expansion plans. In 1963, AL president Joe Cronin suggested that Coliseum officials model some aspects of the new ballpark after then-brand-new Dodger Stadium, which impressed him, though these expansion plans seemed to fade by the middle of the decade.

 

After approval from the city of Oakland as well as Alameda County by 1962, $25 million in financing was arranged. Plans were drawn for a stadium, an indoor arena and an exhibition hall in between them.

 

The architect of record was the San Francisco office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and the general contractor was Guy F. Atkinson Company.

 

Preliminary site preparation began in the summer of 1961. Construction began in the spring of 1962. The construction schedule was delayed for two years due to various legal issues and cost overruns; the original design of the Coliseum had to be modified slightly in order to stay on budget.

 

In 1965, it was rumored that the Cleveland Indians might leave Cleveland for a West Coast city (such as Oakland), but the Indians ended up remaining in Cleveland. Charlie Finley, owner of the Kansas City A's, unhappy in Kansas City, impressed by Oakland's new stadium and personally convinced to consider Oakland by Nahas, eventually got permission after several unsuccessful attempts and amid considerable controversy, to relocate his American League franchise to the stadium for the 1968 season (for details on the controversy, see the separate articles for the A's and the Kansas City Royals, the expansion franchise created to replace the A's in Kansas City).

 

The Raiders played their first game at the stadium on September 18, 1966. In 1968, the Kansas City Athletics became the Oakland Athletics and began play at the new stadium. The Athletics' first game was played on April 17, 1968. The stadium complex cost $25.5 million to build and rests on 120 acres (0.5 km²) of land. On May 8 of that year, Catfish Hunter pitched the ninth perfect game in Major League history at the Coliseum.

 

The Coliseum features an underground design where the playing surface is actually below ground level (21 feet / 6 meters below sea level). Consequently fans entering the stadium find themselves walking on to the main concourse of the stadium at the top of the first level of seats. This, combined with the hill that was built around the stadium to create the upper concourse, means that only the third deck is visible from outside the park. This gives the Coliseum the illusion of being a short stadium from the outside.

In its baseball configuration, the Coliseum has far and away the most foul territory of any major league ballpark. This is especially the case along the foul lines. Thus, many balls that would reach the seats in other ballparks are caught for outs at the Coliseum. The distance to the backstop was initially 90 feet (27 m), but was reduced to 60 feet (18 m) in 1969.

 

The Rolling Stones performed two shows at the stadium during their 1969 North American Tour on November 9, 1969.

 

1970s

In 1972, the Athletics won their first of three straight World Series championships, and their first since their years in Philadelphia.

 

Commencing in 1973, the stadium hosted an annual Days on the Green concert series, presented by Bill Graham and his company Bill Graham Presents, which continued on into the early 90's.

 

Artists that have performed, but not during the DOTG's, include Marvin Gaye, Bob Dylan, The Band and Pink Floyd, among others.

 

In 1974, Marvin Gaye performed at the stadium, his first live show in four years. It was released as a live album, titled Marvin Gaye Live!.

 

In June 1974, The Grateful Dead played their first concert at the stadium.

In 1976, the Raiders won Super Bowl XI.

In 1977, Lynyrd Skynyrd performed through the Independence Day weekend, as part of the above-mentioned Days on the Green series; this specific event lasted three days.

 

Led Zeppelin played what turned out to be their final North American concerts with twin shows during their 1977 North American Tour. After their first show on July 23, members of Led Zeppelin's entourage were arrested after a member of promoter Bill Graham's staff was physically assaulted during the performance.

 

The stadium was not well maintained for most of the late 1970s. Its condition was most noticeable during baseball season, when crowds for A's games twice numbered fewer than 1,000. On 17 April 1979, only 653 fans attended the game versus the Seattle Mariners. During this time, it was popularly known as the "Oakland Mausoleum."

 

1980s

In 1980, the Raiders won Super Bowl XV. Two years later, the Raiders moved to Los Angeles, leaving the A's as the only remaining tenants of Oakland Coliseum. Only days later, Finley sold the A's to Marvin Davis, who planned to move the A's to Denver. However, city and county officials were not about to lose Oakland's status as a major-league city in its own right, and refused to let the A's out of their lease. Finley was forced to sell the team to the owners of San Francisco-based Levi Strauss & Co.

 

The 1987 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was held at the stadium. From 1988-1990, the venue saw three more World Series. In 1989, the Oakland A's won their fourth Series, since moving to Oakland, as "Bash Brothers" José Canseco and Mark McGwire, of the A's, defeated the San Francisco Giants in the earthquake-interrupted "Battle of the Bay" Series or "BART" Series.

 

Artists that have performed, but not during the DOTG's, include Van Halen, Earth, Wind & Fire, Queen, Billy Squier, Prince, The Time, Vanity 6, Robert Plant, Roger Waters, The Clash, The Who, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, AC/DC, Grateful Dead, Sting and Pink Floyd, among others.

 

HBO filmed two Earth, Wind & Fire concerts on December 30–31, 1981, one of them included The Phenix Horns.

The Grateful Dead played many concerts at the stadium during the 80's, through to the mid-90's and would typically perform "runs" of shows, in which the band would perform several shows over the course of three to five days, as was often customary for Grateful Dead concert tours in various U.S. cities. They played a total of 68 concerts at the stadium, from 1980–1995 and in total, played 71 concerts at the stadium, the most by any entertainer.

 

1990s

In the 90's, several major concerts were held, including Madonna, Celine Dion, Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, After 7, Mötley Crüe, Nirvana, Depeche Mode, Faith No More, Metal Church, U2, Pink Floyd, Page & Plant, Van Halen, The Rolling Stones & Rage Against the Machine, but these were not "Days on the Green", by definition, because they occurred at night.

 

The stadium was the location for the 1994 Disney movie Angels in the Outfield. Although Angel Stadium of Anaheim (known as Anaheim Stadium at the time) was where the Angels actually played, it was damaged in the 1994 Southern California earthquake. Anaheim Stadium was used for views from the outside and aerial views, while Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum was used for interior shots.

 

In July 1995, the Raiders agreed to return to Oakland provided that Oakland Coliseum underwent renovations. In November 1995, those renovations commenced and continued through the next summer until the beginning of the 1996 football season (more info below). The new layout also had the somewhat peculiar effect of creating an inward jog in the outfield fence, in left-center and right-center. There are now three distance markers instead of one, at various points of the power alleys, as indicated in the dimensions grid. In 1998, approximately 180 old, orange stadium seats were installed at Anchorage's Mulcahy Stadium. The Raiders return also heralded the creation of the Black Hole, a highly recognizable group of fans who occupy one end zone seating during football games.

 

Along with the since-demolished Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, the stadium features the unusual configuration of laying the football field on a line from first to third base rather than laying it from home plate to center field, or parallel to one of the foul lines, as with most multi-purpose facilities. Thus, a seat behind home plate for baseball is behind the 50-yard (46 m) line for football. With the Florida Marlins soon to move into their own new ballpark in 2012, the stadium is set to become the last venue in the United States that hosts both Major League Baseball and an NFL team.

 

2000s

Artists that have performed include TLC, Christina Aguilera, 'N Sync, Sisqo, P!nk, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Dead, The Rolling Stones, The Police and Fiction Plane, among others.

 

On April 2, 2006, the broadcast booth was renamed in honor of the late Bill King, a legendary Bay Area sportscaster who was the play-by-play voice of the A's, Raiders and Warriors for 44 years.

 

In November 2007, the San Jose Earthquakes, of the MLS, announced they would be playing their "big draw" games, such as those featuring David Beckham and the Los Angeles Galaxy and/or Cuauhtemoc Blanco and the Chicago Fire, at the stadium. Regular draw games are being played at Buck Shaw Stadium, in Santa Clara.

 

Midway through the decade, the stadium established a "no re-entry" policy. Each ticket can only be used once, after which a second ticket must be purchased in order to re-enter the Coliseum. This is accompanied by giveaway items with limited amounts in order to discourage tailgating.

 

Late in the decade, Roy Steele ended his position as the A's stadium announcer after about a forty year career.

 

2010s

On May 9, 2010, almost 42 years to the day of Catfish Hunter's perfect game, Dallas Braden pitched the 19th perfect game in Major League history at the Coliseum. A commemorative graphic was placed on the baseball outfield wall next to Rickey Henderson's retired number on May 17, their next home game.

 

U2 will return to perform on June 7, 2011, during their 360° Tour. The show was originally to be held in June 2010, but was postponed, due to Bono's emergency back surgery.

 

Naming rights

In September 1997, UMAX Technologies agreed to acquire the naming rights to the stadium. However, following a dispute, a court decision reinstated the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum name. In 1998, Network Associates agreed to pay $5.8 million over five years for the naming rights and the stadium became known as Network Associates Coliseum, or, alternately in marketing and media usage as, "the Net."

 

In 2003, Network Associates renewed the contract for an additional five years at a cost of $6 million. In mid-2004, Network Associates was renamed McAfee, restoring its name from before its 1997 merger with Network General, and the stadium was renamed McAfee Coliseum accordingly.

 

In 2008, McAfee was offered a renewal of the naming contract, but it was declined. On September 19, 2008, the name reverted back to the pre-1997 name of Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

 

Despite the different name changes, locals generally refer to the stadium as "The Coliseum." This fits the trend of older stadium renamings being rejected by the general public. This is especially true in the San Francisco Bay Area where changes to the name of nearby Candlestick Park have been wholly rejected by voters, and changes to the names of both Pacific Bell Park and the San Jose Arena were received with much negative criticism and widely ignored by fans and media alike.

 

Possible replacements

Cisco Field

On August 12, 2005, the A's new owner Lewis Wolff made the A's first official proposal for a new ballpark in Oakland to the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority. The new stadium would have been located across 66th Avenue from the Coliseum in what is currently an industrial area north of the Coliseum. The park would have held 35,000 fans, making it the smallest park in the major leagues. Plans for the Oakland location fell through in early 2006 when several of the owners of the land proposed for the new ballpark made known their wish to not sell.

 

Throughout 2006, the Athletics continued to search for a ballpark site within their designated territory of Alameda County. Late in 2006, rumors began to circulate regarding a 143-acre (0.58 km2) parcel of land in Fremont, California being the new site. These rumors were confirmed by the Fremont city council on November 8 of that year. Wolff met with the council that day to present his plan to move the A's to Fremont into a soon to be built ballpark named Cisco Field. Wolff and Cisco Systems conducted a Press Conference at the San Jose-based headquarters of Cisco Systems on November 14, 2006 to confirm the deal, and showcase some details of the future plan. However, on February 24, 2009, after delays and increased public opposition, the Athletics officially ended their search for a stadium site in Fremont. Speculation was raised as to whether or not the Athletics franchise would remain in Northern California in the long term as a result of the termination of the Cisco Field plan.

 

In 2010, two building sites have become leading candidates for a new Athletics' home: a site in downtown San Jose located near HP Pavilion (home of the NHL San Jose Sharks) and a proposed stadium in Oakland named Victory Court.

 

Under any such replacement proposals, the Oakland Raiders would presumably continue to play football in the Coliseum, although there have been recent proposals for a new football-only stadium in the Bay Area which the Raiders could share with the San Francisco 49ers.

 

Mount Davis

One feature of the 1996 expansion was the addition of over 10,000 seats in the upper deck that now spans the outfield in the baseball configuration (and face the setting sun late in the day during NFL games). The effect of these new stands, comprising sections 335–355, was to completely enclose the stadium, eliminating the spectacular view of the Oakland hills that had been the stadium's backdrop for 30 years.

 

The stands are very narrow and steeply pitched, bringing the back row of its upper-most tier to a height rarely seen in modern stadiums. Due to the stands' height and the loss of the Oakland hills view, A's fans have derisively nicknamed the structure Mount Davis or the AL-ps, in mockery of Raiders owner Al Davis.

 

It has been criticized as an area which has made the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum look ever more like a football stadium, and not at all one for baseball. From 1997 through 2004, the A's left the section open, but it was rarely filled except for fireworks nights and the postseason. The A's did not count the area in the listed capacity for baseball; hence, even though the "official" baseball capacity was 43,662 (48,219 with standing room), the "actual" capacity was around 60,000.

Current prices for "Mount Davis" during Raiders games range between $26–$46.

 

The Tarp

In 2006, the Athletics covered the entire third deck with a tarp, reducing capacity to 34,077—the smallest capacity in the majors. For the 2008 season, Sections 316–318 of the 3rd deck behind home plate were re-opened as the A's introduced their own "All-You-Can-Eat" seating area, similar to the right field bleachers at Dodger Stadium. This has increased the Coliseum's capacity for baseball to 35,067 - still very small. For the 2009 season, seats were $35 and only sold on a single game basis; All-You-Can-Eat seating was offered for every game in 2008, but for 2009 the section was only open for weekend games (Friday-Sunday) & all games against the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and San Francisco Giants. For 2010, the A's have discontinued All-You-Can-Eat, instead rebranding the area as the "Value Deck". Prices for these seats have decreased to $12 and are sold for every game ($15 price for premium games). To help compensate for the loss of AYCE, the A's have introduced Jumbo-Tickets that have stored stadium credit for food & merchandise ($10 on Plaza Club tickets & $6 for Value Deck tickets). Even if the game is otherwise sold out, the A's will not sell any seats in the area that remains covered. An exception may be made when the A's return to the post-season. However, the A's did not remove the tarp during the 2006 postseason.

 

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Tagged:
1972 World Series, 1973 World Series, 1974 World Series, 1988 World Series, 1989 World Series, 1990 World Series, Lewis Wolff, Oakland Athletics, Oakland Coliseum

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