The Beauty of America’s Ugliest Ballpark

Around the Coliseum on a recent weeknight, many fans said they recognized the A’s needed a new home, but they worried the new park would lack the je ne sais quoi of a stadium some compare to a toilet bowl.

“Overall it’d be good for the A’s and the city of Oakland to get a new park,” said Bryn Williams, a 37-year-old lawyer in a seersucker suit keeping score in the second deck. “But there will definitely be something lost, in no small part because the Coliseum is cheap, it’s easy to access and it’s unpretentious.” He paused. “Says the guy in the seersucker suit.”

Some in the outfield bleachers — where fans wave flags, bang drums and blow horns incessantly — said they worried a new ballpark would price them out, in favor of corporate clients and fair-weather fans. They pointed to San Francisco, where the Giants left their multisport home, Candlestick Park, in 2000 for a downtown stadium. The new park has been an enormous success, drawing plaudits for its design, attracting bigger crowds and increasing revenues. The Giants have won three World Series since the move. Yet to the die-hard A’s fans, the experience was richer at Candlestick.

“Now it’s your corporate fan base. You have 20,000 to 30,000 people there who don’t care about the game of baseball,” said Will MacNeil, one of the loudest voices in the right-field bleachers.

Miguel Barahona, a 32-year-old lab technician from Alameda, Calif., paused his drumming to show off a tattoo of the Coliseum on his biceps. “I love this place,” he said. “Give me another 10 years here.”

Other fans were more realistic.

“I’d love to stay here but I know that’s not reasonable to think that’s going to happen,” said Jennifer LaMarche, a season-ticket holder and bleacher dweller for 17 years.