Home News Oakland A’s backtrack, let fans in early

Oakland A’s backtrack, let fans in early


Oakland A's backtrack, let fans in early

OAKLAND — What had the makings of a traffic nightmare and public safety issue ended an hour early on Thursday afternoon, when the Oakland A’s finally relented and opened the gates to their parking lots more than an hour earlier than expected.

“They gave in,” said Anson Casanares, vice president of the Oakland 68s fan group.

Seemingly ignoring that the thousands of fans were planning to flood the parking lots to boycott the game and the team’s pending move to Las Vegas, the A’s originally decided to block entry to their parking lot until two hours before their 7:07 p.m. Opening Day game against the Cleveland Guardians on Thursday, a stark difference from last year, when they opened four hours early.

Cars lined up in front of the B Lot entrance as early as noon. By 3 p.m., there was a line at least a half-mile long.

Instead of waiting until 5:07 p.m. to open the parking lot gates, the A’s folded their cards and opened the gates around 4 p.m.

Cars began flooding into the parking lot. Within 15 minutes, Last Dive Bar founder Bryan Johansen, one of the event organizers, had set up his merchandise tent with free shirts, pins and other items as fans began getting in line.

Soon after, a band began playing music, beer cans were being cracked open and the smell of Butcher’s Daughter BBQ filled the air.

Donna Fong, a solo grand champion pitmaster and lifelong A’s fan, brought 40 pounds of chicken and 50 pounds of ribs she had been cooking since 8 a.m. She set up her Butcher’s Daughter BBQ tent and began giving away the food for free.

“I’m an A’s fan and wanted to give back to the A’s fans in their last season, so why not give free BBQ?” Fong said. “It makes me want to cry (that the A’s are leaving). I can see the stadium from my house. This was my retirement plan, I was going to come here and watch all the games.”

Johansen said he arrived at noon as one of the first cars there and was working with Oakland A’s vice president of stadium operations, Dave Rinetti, to figure out how to get fans safely into the parking lot. They organized three lanes: one lane for employees to get in, one lane for cars forming a line, and one lane for cars to get out.

More than an hour before they had planned to open the parking lot, the A’s, charging $30 for parking, opened the gates.

“I wasn’t surprised,” Johansen said. “The A’s love Last Dive Bar, they just don’t want to admit it… That was perfect, nobody impeded traffic either way. Everybody lined up. It was perfect.

“The entire Coliseum staff, parking lot supervisors, everyone was courteous. They were awesome.”

Most of the fans entering the A Lot on 66th Ave. said they planned to attend the game, despite the fan boycott taking place in the B Lot.

Fan groups said they supported fans’ decision to go to the game, but most fans partying in the B Lot said they had no intentions of going into the Coliseum.

“I don’t want to give John Fisher any money,” said Hallie Maier, who took BART from Marin just to hang out in the parking lot.

“It’s heartbreaking,” said her husband, Mark. “The Oakland A’s are such a part of Oakland. There’s so much tradition here.”

It might’ve been the last Opening Day at the Coliseum, seeing as the A’s lease is up at the end of 2024 and the team has not been able to come to an agreement with the City of Oakland on an extension. Sacramento is viewed as one possible temporary home until the Las Vegas ballpark is scheduled to open in 2028.

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