My experience at the Oakland Coliseum for A’s 2021 opening night

Can’t tell you how good it felt to be sitting on the back patio of a restaurant yesterday, soaking in the sun, eating wings, fries and drinking a beer before an A’s game. 

The BART ride was a little blurry but not too crowded as we crept toward the Coliseum. Always great when she comes into view, looming above the rest of East Oakland.

As soon as you got out of the turnstyles, there was a group of people with picket signs from the East Oakland Stadium Alliance yelling and handing out fliers. I know that many of the “East” Oakland Stadium Alliance organizations are actually West Oakland interest groups who work at the Port of Oakland, so I approached one guy who was pretty intense.

“Hey so do you work at the Port of Oakland?”

“Yeah,” he said, as he continued to yell.

“So you’re not from East Oakland? Do you care about East Oakland or are you just anti-West Oakland stadium?”

My mans got heated over the next few minutes as we had an animated discussion.

“They’re gonna spend $200 million in taxpayer money!,” dude yelled. “Keep the A’s in East Oakland!”

“Who’s paying you to say this?”

“No one’s paying me to say this. I have a job in West Oakland. I have a job at the port.”

“So why is it called the East Oakland Stadium Alliance if everybody is from West Oakland in the alliance?”

“There’s people from both sides. There’s people in the industry. There’s people in East Oakland that want the stadium to stay here. There’s religious groups here that want to keep the jobs in East Oakland.”

We went back and forth and I found it odd he mentioned the religious groups a couple more times. Never heard that argument before.

There was a woman holding a sign that said “Leave our thriving waterfront alone” who had a mic on a loud speaker.

“Keep the A’s here! It’s a real estate deal, guys. Fishers don’t care about the team! Pay attention. Re-invest here! Keep the A’s here! There’s already $30 million eligible earmarked for this BART station if they keep the A’s.”

So we got an earful of that while we waited for the gates to open up at the other end of the BART ramp. The line to get in the gates literally stretched the entire length of the BART ramp from the stadium to the stairs and escalators attached to the station.

My roommate was able to grab a couple shirts and a hat, though, so good to see the BART ramp hustlers are still going strong.

Around 6:00 the line started moving and moved fast as we got into the complex and were funneled to the left ramp toward the south parking lot — it looks like they still have hella cones and stuff set up for the coronavirus vaccine site on the north side. There was a guy completely decked out in Giants gear in front of us in line so my roommate was just giving him shit the whole time as we made our way closer toward the concrete behemoth.

We moseyed on down to the parking lot for some last-minute brewskis with some A’s fans and got to talking about who knows what. There was this one guy who had a sick custom made necklace of the classic 90s A’s spring training logo of Stomper with sunglasses. Brah, just BS’ing with random people never felt so good.

Around 6:35 we got into another long line that snaked into the parking lot to get into the stadium. Super long but seemed to move pretty fast once we got going. Scanned our tickets on the phone and we were in. I actually miss the perforated paper stubs and wish it wasn’t on the app. Used to collect those bad boys, have a bunch of stubs from the early 2000s.

We had seats in the third deck, section 329. Never gets old climbing up those concrete steps and looking out onto the field for the first time. The sun was just setting on a perfect Oakland evening and we were walking around toward our seats as new PA woman Amelia Schimmel introduced the A’s.

Also ran into this hilarious guy with a drum up on the third deck. Ah, the sounds of the Coli.

Once both teams were on the foul lines, the A’s also remembered the late Oakland native Joe Morgan, ESPN reporter Pedro Gomez and former PA man Dick Callahan. 

Following a two-minute tribute video to Callahan, Schimmel asked the crowd for a round of applause instead of the standard moment of silence. Shout out to Schimmel for that awesome gesture.

I was pretty much a zombie for the first few innings as the pre-game brewskis did their work but I do remember that A’s fans were booing the hell out of Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa.  

I didn’t know if people would just be glad to be at the stadium or if they would still boo like crazy, and they boo’d like crazy for the main villains. Kyle Tucker and Yuli Gurriel maybe not so much, but the stars got heckled for sure. And it was hella loud for being about 11,000 fans, maybe the even distribution throughout the stadium helped the acoustics.

Seats were marked with yellow tape if people were supposed to sit in them, while the others were closed by zipties. Another difference I noticed was that the A’s bullpen has a lil hangout spot now, where before they were completely exposed to the field.

I also remember that Schimmel was great and legit fired up to be calling out the player names. Her energy boomed through the mic and you can tell how much she loves the job. Great hire by the A’s I think she will become a key part of the Coliseum experience over the years.

As for the game itself, Zack Grienke looked damn near unhittable and it was one of those classic Coliseum openers where fans were waiting to explode but had little to cheer for — just a sac fly in the seventh inning. The run was set up by a Ramon Laureano double before he stole third, which might have been the most exciting moment for A’s fans the entire game.

Not gonna lie, the pre-game beers didn’t agree with my stomach and I had to make a lil yak run to the bathroom. As I was throwing up, a bottle of liquor from the next stall over rolled into my stall and someone’s hand appeared from under the partition. He grabbed the bottle and we both laughed — it was a perfect scene of Coliseum poetry.

Then came my odyssey to try and find a bottle of water to help me out. I went from concession stand to concession stand in the third deck looking for any register that accepted cash but they all had these yellow signs that said “MOBILE APP PICKUP.” 

Now, when you’re a lil hamboned to the bone, the thought of going through an app to find my proper concession stand to get a bottle of water seemed like an impossible task. So I asked one of the workers, “Can I please just pay you money for a bottle of water?”  

I only had 20 left but at that point I was ready to fork it over for some high quality H2O. The lady felt bad for me so she just poured me a cup of ice water for free. Bless her. Felt like a champ once I got that water in me.

Meanwhile A’s starter Chris Bassitt got hit around a little bit for three runs in 5.1 innings before Adam Kolarek’s A’s debut went awry. The lefty gave up two dingers to the first two batters he faced before getting a ground out, walking a guy and then plunking Yordan Alvarez to end his evening.

That made it 5-1 heading into the ninth when southpaw Reymin Guduan also had a rough go as mop-up man in the ninth. He struggled and gave up three runs but no one was warming up in the ‘pen.

We eventually got outta there and it was so great to smell the grilled onions of the hot dog vendors on the BART ramp as we headed back to the station. Shoulda got one of those bad boys smh. 

Then for some reason they held the SF train at the station for about 30 minutes before releasing it and letting East Bay folks get back home. Gotta love BART.