Oakland Coliseum: Baseball Gameday Guide


Oakland Coliseum may not have many of the modern amenities that other stadiums boast, nor is it in the best shape of its storied lifetime, but it's still a great place to see a ballgame. Although attendance figures have always been up and down for the Oakland Athletics, the dedicated contingent that consistently shows up display levels of dedication, passion and creativity that measure up with any other fan base. If you can look past the stadium's shortcomings you'll come to appreciate the unique elements of the game day experience in Oakland.

The stadium—which also houses the Oakland Raiders and lies next to Oracle Arena where the Golden State Warriors play—is easily accessible via BART. But the only other reason you'd exit at the Coliseum BART stop is for the Oakland Airport. In other words, the surrounding neighborhoods and industrial lots have little to offer in terms of pre-game or post-game pomp and circumstance.

Pre-game festivities are located primarily in the parking lot, where fans will find a dedicated tailgate scene before most games. The fan base is varied, but tends to fall on the knowledgeable, passionate side of the fandom spectrum (as a comparison, A's fans generally view San Francisco Giants fans across the Bay as a fickle, corporate fan base more concerned with stadium amenities than the On-Base Percentage of a team's leadoff hitter). Mostly, A's fans are quirky and don't take matters too seriously, embracing their small-market underdog reputation.

QUICK LINKS WHAT TO DO BEFORE AN A's GAME

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Driving isn't the most efficient mode of transportation to and from Oakland Coliseum. Traffic before weekday night games can be a nightmare, and the lot reliably bottlenecks after crowded games. But driving does give fans the option to tailgate beforehand, which is your best (and only) bet for pre-game fun at the ballpark.

Even if you're taking BART to the game, follow the scent of barbecues (and the sound of liberated aluminum cans) to the parking lot, which opens 2½ hours before game time. A's fans are generally a friendly bunch and fine with wanderers sidling up next to whatever camp they've made. Tailgaters here keep it simple and old school: a libation, an AM radio and some baseball equipment are all you need at Oakland.

WHERE TO GET A BEER
Your Cooler | If you're driving and need to make a pit stop near the stadium, JJ Buckley Fine Wines (7305 Edgewater Dr., Oakland—on the opposite side of Highway 880 from the stadium) gets high marks for its proximity. But please, no wines. This isn't AT&T Park.

If you're looking to grab a beer at a bar, the Trappist (460 8th St) and Bar Three Fifty-Five (355 19th St) are both about a 10-minute car ride away from the stadium in downtown Oakland, are heavily favored by A's fans and won't put a big dent in your wallet.

WHERE TO GO WITH A GROUP
Periphery of Parking Lot | The perimeter of the parking lot is generally a safe bet if you want to claim a spot with adequate tailgating space for a group (security forces willing). Cozy up against the fence adjacent to Highway 880 and claim a row of parking spots to ensure a dose of privacy and territory. Huge groups (50-70 people) can also rent BBQ Terrace inside the stadium, and stadium staffers will cook your grub right in front of you in the outfield.

Big groups looking to assemble elsewhere in Oakland before a game would be wise to check out Make Westing near the 19th St. Bart station, where drinks are accompanied by indoor bocce ball, the perfect activity to prepare the team for action.

BEST NEIGHBORHOOD SPOT
Plank | Another popular watering hole for A's fans is Plank (98 Broadway), a beer garden featuring bowling, bocce ball and live entertainment. Not only is it a great place to congregate with friends, they also love seeing fans decked out in A's gear.

WHERE TO GET ROWDY
Front Row of Stadium Parking Lot | Proximity is everything to A's fans. The closer one gets to the stadium's parking lot, the crazier the crowd. That's where you'll find the diehard fans who have been tailgating for hours (and decades) on end, chanting the A's signature rally cry, "Let's Go Oakland, clap, clap, clap-clap-clap" hours before each game.

WHERE TO HAVE A SIT-DOWN MEAL
Yoshino Sushi | The Coliseum isn't known for its gourmet cuisine, so refined palates might consider Yoshino Sushi, a quick drive away from the stadium. The selection is what you'd expect from any affordable sushi restaurant. But A's fans will be more impressed with the full bar, and relieved to see a TV for pre-game SportsCenter prep work (although the staff may require convincing to switch on the game).

BEST PLACE FOR A PRE-GAME SNACK
The BART Walkway | Vendors usually line the walkway from BART to the Coliseum selling bacon-wrapped hot dogs. If you're headed to the parking lot for a brew but didn't bring tailgate equipment, you'd be well advised to make a pit stop and grab one for $5. Peanuts, sunflower seeds, and other ballpark staples sell for around buck or two. You can also find some people hawking cheap beer, but the police understandably frown upon those transactions.

CAN YOU TAILGATE AT OAKLAND COLISEUM?
If you're still asking this question you really haven't been paying attention. Tailgating isn't just an option, it's your best option.

WHAT'S NEARBY
The surrounding neighborhoods are mostly filled with residential spaces and industrial businesses, but Oakland International Airport is a short drive away and there is a shopping center located around the corner on Hegenberger Dr.

INSIDE OAKLAND COLISEUM
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Game day at Oakland Coliseum is mostly about baseball; the ballpark isn't overloaded with fresh food vendors and glitzy entertainment attractions (or distractions) like many modern stadiums. Here's how to take advantage of the Coliseum's best offerings.

WHERE TO SIT
Rowdy diehards (or fans curious about the A's' rowdy diehards) should proceed to the left or right field bleachers. The bleachers are home to a fun-loving, boisterous herd of superfans who spend the entirety of the game on their feet, waving flags, leading chants, doing "the Bernie lean" (more on that below) and offering the opponent's outfielders food for thought. Avoid sitting in the second deck of the bleachers where views of the outfield are obstructed.

BEST FOOD
West Side Club | The West Side Club—located on the second level of Oakland Coliseum—is easily the best dining option at the Coliseum. At the West Side Club—with the longest sports bar in Northern California—lobster rolls, bread pudding and shrimp po' boys are no-brainer options.

BEST LOCAL VENDOR
Saag's Specialty Meats & Sausages | It's the perfect marriage. Saag's has been an institution in Oakland for more than 70 years, and hot dogs and sausages will forever be an institution at the ballpark. That is our destiny. If you're feeling bold, go for the Section 118 vendor's Big Atomic Hot. It's all of those adjectives.

BEST BEER
Fat Tire | Long gone are the days when standard domestic beers were A's fans' only options. Now the thirsty fan can find a healthy assortment of premium beers in every section. Try the Fat Tire, which pairs well with everything, especially baseball.

WHERE TO EAT HEALTHY
Chef Express | Chicken Caesar wraps, garden salads, fresh fruit cups and the like aren't the most popular items at a stadium that recently brought the macaroni and cheese hot dog into the fold, but they're available in Section 108 for the conscientious concession forager.

BEST STADIUM BAR
The West Side Club | This bar can get packed on weekends, but for good reason. The views through the high windows of the second-deck bar/eatery (spanning from section 212 to 215) are magnificent. Grab a cocktail and toast to the home team.

OTHER THINGS TO SEE WHILE YOU'RE HERE
The A's honor their legends with larger-than-life jerseys painted atop tarps covering the outfield third deck, aka Mt. Davis. The numbers you see up there signify the greatness of Ricky Henderson (24), Dennis Eckersley (43), Reggie Jackson (9), Catfish Hunter (27) and Rollie Fingers (34).

Oakland Coliseum Tours
Oakland Coliseum Virtual Tour

A's GAMES ON A BUDGET
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Games at Oakland Coliseum are already significantly cheaper than many other ballparks, but there's definitely still deals to be had if you don't mind a little improvisation on your part.

WHERE TO GET A CHEAP BEER BEFORE THE GAME
The best way to save on a pregame beer is to bring your own to the tailgate. If you're still thirsty after your tailgate session, proceed to Cantina Concepts in section 141. Beers are reasonably priced ($9-12), and they also pour margaritas and daiquiris, a ridiculously underrated option on a hot weekend day game at the park.

BEST CHEAP BITES AROUND OAKLAND COLISEUM
The Oakland-BART walkway | The walkway from BART to Oakland is predictably packed with vendors selling bacon-wrapped hot dogs ($4), churros ($2) and authentic Mexican snacks.

BEST CHEAP A'S TICKETS
You won't find better bang for your buck than bleacher General Admission tickets (generally $17-25 on StubHub), especially if you commit to the cause and get there early. First come, first serve means front row seats can be yours!

For other cheap tickets, the Value Deck is where it's at. Tickets are dirt cheap (as low as $14), and come with concessions vouchers. There are views of the entire Bay Area in the concourse behind the Value Deck.

OAKLAND COLISEUM WITH KIDS
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Introduce your tyke to the A's mascot at the Stomper Fun Zone and let the older kids try their hand in the Pitching Cage. Easily the best way to show up on Athletics' scouting radars.

WHERE TO GO BEFORE THE GAME WITH KIDS
Bring baseball gloves to the parking lot and play catch right there. Just be sure the lil' gunslinger isn't throwing heaters in the direction of a Mercedes. Unless, of course, it's the car of an opposing team's star players. Kidding!

BEST FOOD FOR KIDS
Round Table | Kids love pizza. Then again, pretty much everybody loves pizza. The personal offering from Round Table Pizza is always a popular choice. If they're not in a pizza mood, the grilled cheese sandwich at the Burger Shack stand behind Section 132 is a reliable back-up that even adults love.

WHERE TO GET AUTOGRAPHS
Show up for batting practice an hour before the game starts and you might be able to get the attention of a player warming up. But no guarantees. After the game, you can try getting the attention of someone in the Player's-Only parking lot adjacent to the stadium, but you'll need some serendipity.

NEED A BREAK DURING THE GAME?
Head up to the Value Deck for sights of the bay. On a clear day, you can see San Francisco's skyline and swaths of the East Bay. Ever since the A's started tarping off the third deck, this area has an eerie, ghost-town vibe to it.

WHERE TO BUY GEAR FOR THE KIDS
It may seem like the obvious answer, but just go to any of the merchandise stands in the stadium. If you have a friend who is a season ticket holder ask them to hook you up with their discount card to receive 25% off.

WHAT TO DO AFTER AN A's GAME
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The surrounding parts of the Oakland stadium complex don't offer much in the way of post-game activity. Many fans will linger in the parking lots for an hour to celebrate big wins, and the BART ride home becomes a de facto party on a Friday night. But once you leave the premises, where you end up really depends on where you reside.

WHERE TO KEEP THE PARTY GOING
Uptown Neighborhood of Oakland | It's a few quick BART stops away, but the Uptown neighborhood of Oakland has a crowded collection of bars and late-night activity; just don't expect everyone to be celebrating an A's win. This is a diverse, up-and-coming community that favors music venues over sports bars, but its proximity to BART (and by extension, the Coliseum) makes it ripe for a post-game nightcap.

WHERE TO GET A POST-GAME MEAL
Guadalajara Restaurant or Tacos Sinaloa | One of the most popular spots for hungry A's fans to hit up after a game is the Guadalajara Restaurant with its ever-popular taco truck, located a straight shot down the street from the stadium on Fruitvale Ave just off San Leandro St. Across the street is Tacos Sinaloa, a popular taco truck with multiple locations in Oakland. Each location has loyal followers, but you can't go wrong with either one.

WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO DO NEARBY?
Downtown Oakland is only a 10-minute drive or three BART stops away from the stadium. Head there after a game to see why it's quickly becoming a popular destination for tourists and Bay Area residents alike.


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Bay Area native Chris Trenchard is the NBA Editor at BleacherReport.com. He spends his winters at Oracle Arena and summers right next door at Oakland Coliseum. During the overlapping seasons in spring, he rarely leaves the east bay sports complex.

Dennis Biles contributed updates to this guide.