He’s roamed the bleachers inside several stadiums, selling hot dogs to baseball fans — and hearing the classic chants that seem to maintain the same tenor in every Major League city.
Let’s go Cub-bies … Let’s go White Sox … Let’s go Nats. Let’s go Nats.
But veteran hot dog vendor Hal Gordon hears something slightly different during Oakland Athletics games at Oakland Coliseum.
Let’s go Oak-land … Let’s go Oak-land … instead of the team that bears the city’s name.
“Going to the Coliseum and seeing the A’s there and being an A’s fan … fans feel like they have a chip on their shoulder,” said Gordon, preparing to deal dogs in Oakland for a ninth consecutive MLB season.
“But also, it’s their pride of being from the East Bay.”
Exactly where the A’s should stay.
The Athletics don’t belong in Las Vegas. They belong in Oakland, a historical hub of blue-collar sporting culture from which the reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors and three-time Super Bowl champion Raiders have already strayed.
The city’s citizens don’t deserve to lose the A’s, their beloved tenant since 1968.
The 81 annual home games, four World Series championships and kind of joy that statistics can’t quantify — and money won’t ever be able to buy.
“It’s the last thing that we’ve got now here,” said Gordon, credentialed by the University of California as a doctor of environmental economics.
“It’s almost like … the A’s leaving feels like ‘Of course. Of course it would happen to Oakland,’” he added. “At the same time, it feels impossible. It would just suck so much.”
‘The romance behind it’
The economic advantage Las Vegas presents becomes increasingly obvious the longer Oakland’s proposed Howard Terminal Ballpark sits in its seemingly perpetual state of uncertainty. Nearly $300 million is still required to activate the proposed $12 billion project that includes additional formative development to the area near the city’s port.
Several MLB franchises have pledged to pay their superstars more.
With that in mind, locals who know that and who’ve spent 55 years rooting for the Athletics aren’t required to root for the financial interests of owner John Fisher, who raised ticket prices last year while trading away the franchise’s best players — its 2023 Opening Day payroll is projected to $40.925 million, the lowest in major leagues. And that’s amid Fisher’s personal valuation of $2.2 billion, per Forbes.
It’s possible their annual attendance, or lack thereof, reflects his lack of investment and not their lack of appreciation.
More than 54,000 packed the Coliseum in 2019 during its last home playoff game before COVID-19, shaking the stadium that night with their cheers and proving their love for the city and the baseball team that plays in it.
“It’s not a business. It’s about the romance behind it,” said Bryan Johansen, who heads a fan group called The Last Dive Bar — an endearing reference to the Oakland Coliseum — that’s raised more than $130,000, since distributed to several charities across the Bay Area.
“It’s about the memories you make with your family. That’s the stuff you remember,” he added, unknowingly speaking on behalf of everybody who’s ever loved their hometown team.
‘They’re a city’
That’s the essence of being a sports fan … as Las Vegans have understood since the arrival of their beloved Golden Knights, who kick-started the city’s pro sports boon as the kind of expansion team its impending MLB team should be.
Allow the city to develop its own culture instead of claiming the one to which Oakland is clinging.
“Sports teams are more than a business. They’re a community,” Gordon said. “They’re a city. They’re the way a city views itself.”
Add one more voice to the chorus of chants.
Let’s go Oak-land. … Let’s go Oak-land.
Exactly where the A’s should stay.