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Down the Hatch
2008-01-23 21:22
by Philip Michaels

Duty has called me away from the rigors of chronicling the A's efforts to field the most promising 70-win team in the Bay Area this coming season. So I wasn't at the keyboard when this headline in the San Francisco Chronicle's A's blog brought a momentary burst of joy in an otherwise long, cold winter:

Part of third deck being reopened

What's that you say? Parts of the third-deck -- encased in tarpaulin since the 2006 season, when Lew Wolff decided to teach us all a lesson in artificial scarcity -- are going to get untarped? For real?

O, frabjuous day! I have always hated the tarps -- hated them for giving the home park a bush-league look-and-feel, hated them for exiling those of us who take advantage of $2 Wednesdays to seats somewhere just beyond Mount Diablo, and hated them most of all for taking perfectly practical seats out of circulation. There's nothing wrong with the seats in sections 316 through 318 -- they are right behind home plate, affording the frugal patron a wonderful view of the entire field of the play as the ball leaves the bat. For the budget-conscious fan, it's the best seat in the house -- or at least it would be, if there weren't currently a tarp obscuring the view.

But if the Chronicle is to be believed -- and I have never, ever known a major metropolitan daily to mislead anyone -- then our national tarp-themed nightmare will soon be over. And perhaps, my beloved sections 316 through 318 may be the ones that wind up back in play.

Let's read the Chronicle blog post together, so that we might share in the good news.

Three sections of the third deck will be reopened this year...

Hooray! I'm sure the story will only get even better from this point! "All-You-Can-Eat" seats.


Never mind then.

The facts of the matter are these: Yes, sections 316 through 318 will be untarped. But, instead of costing about the same as a bleacher seat as they did in days of yore, the third-deck seats will now go for $35. That will not only give you a seat in the stadium, it will also entitle you to engorge yourself one all the hot dogs, nachos, peanuts, popcorn, ice cream and soda pops. (Tickets for premium games will rise to $38 -- presumably, that won't mean a corresponding rise in the quality of the concessions.)

Clearly, the A's are trying to imitate the success of the Los Angeles Dodgers who have turned the right-field pavilion seats at their stadium into an all-you-can-eat mecca, who've found there's a buck to be made by encouraging gluttony and poo-pooing self-restraint. And I guess I can't really fault the A's for wanting to do likewise.

You wouldn't know it from looking at me, but I'm not much of a buffet guy. I'd rather eat a limited amount of food I enjoy then have a bottomless plate of mediocre stuff I'm eating because it's there. Still, even if the all-you-can-eat aspect of the third-deck doesn't appeal to me, might I be tempted to pay $35 just to enjoy the view from seats in a section where I've had so many pleasant memories? Would I still be able to enjoy the game over the sounds of slurping and munching and gastro-intestinal distress? Would I mind if my view of the field of play was occasionally obscured by the steady stream of patrons shuffling by to get their third helping of nachos? Could I still enjoy an exciting evening of A's baseball if I were occasionally distracted by the people around me arguing over who could eat more hot dogs in a half-inning and sobbing in agony as they try to unhinge their jaws to scarf down more sausages? And would it be worth it the hassle of getting to me seat, as I work my way past the mass of humanity jostling for their turn to suckle the soda dispenser like a newborn calf at its mother's teat?

Yeah. I think I'll pass.

But perhaps I'm being unfair. In the interest of seeing just how well this All-You-Can-Eat third deck might play out, I've commissioned an artist's rendering of Lew Wolff's high-in-cholesterol vision of paradise.

As you can see, the third-deck has become overrun by an army of over-sized Grimaces. Lured to third-deck by the promise of unlimited snacking, they've found the selection of hot dogs and nachos to be unsatisfying. And so, they have eaten the other paying customers. As this photo is being taken, the Grimaces are voting on a proposal to shimmy down into the Bill King Broadcast booth and devour Ken Korach as he delivers the play-by-play. Chillingly, the vote is unanimous, so it's only a matter of time before poor Mr. Korach meets his maker in the belly of some rapacious Grimace. Hopefully, Ray Fosse's screams for help will alert the state militia in time so that these horrible beasts can be brought down before they force their way into the West Side Club. Once that happens, the only solution will be to nuke the site from orbit.

You see, Lew Wolff? Grimaces eating everyone in sight. You've endangered us all. I hope you're happy.

2008-01-24 00:34:05
1.   Ken Arneson
Robble robble. Robble robble robble, robble robble.
2008-01-24 01:05:58
2.   sporky
I kind of spewed when I saw that photo. Unexpected McDonaldland characters seem to have that effect on me.
2008-01-24 01:13:47
3.   jmoney
Maybe it's because I just got back from the bars, but that's my new favorite Catfish Stew post. Ever.
2008-01-24 06:58:31
4.   dianagramr
I hear that if an A's batter hits one of the Grimaces, everyone wins a free suit (or Big Mac, their choice)
2008-01-24 08:06:49
5.   standuptriple
The increase in ticket prices is for the added EMT's that will be required. A defibulator in every section!
At first I thought this was catering to the "Stoner fan" but at that price I've changed my mind.
2008-01-24 08:17:28
6.   dianagramr

Gallstoners .... perhaps

2008-01-24 08:35:23
7.   Philip Michaels
1 Hamburglar has been banned from the Network Associates Coliseum.

4 True, but oddly, the suits are only available in a luxurious purple pelt.

2008-01-24 10:47:50
8.   Arturo
Hmmm, $35 to sit in the crappiest seats, hang out with the seagulls, and stuff yourself full of the lower end stadium food. And I'm curiously happy it will be the Grimace and not the Hamburglar. Or worse, the Turdburglar.
2008-01-24 11:09:26
9.   Woden325
To strike a contrarian note, compared to my experience at Coors Field, this looks like a good deal. A ticket, a hotdog, a soda, and a bag of peanuts is likely to run more than $35 on the a la carte plan.
2008-01-24 13:27:43
10.   Philip Michaels
9 I dunno. My favorite food item at the Coliseum is the Philly cheesesteak sold on the Plaza Level near the West Side Club (assuming there's enough of a crowd on hand to open that particular concession stand, and let me tell you, when it's not open, I have to suppress my primordial instinct to destroy things, let me tell you). That's $7.50, I think. Add in a beer -- a premium beer, mind you, like a Fat Tire or a Gordon Biersch -- and that $7.50 or so purchase brings us to $15. Usually, that's enough to sate me, so with a $13 bleacher seat, I've spent $28. I can still buy another beer, if I'm feeling expansive and have someone else to do the driving, before I hit the $35 mark.

And that's buying some of the most expensive foodstuffs in the yard -- not the withered hot dogs that are likely to be served up in All-U-Can-Eat Land.

My point is, that even if I pay up for food, I'm unlikely to get my $35 worth. I can't imagine how many hot dogs I'd have to eat to make it to $35 -- far more than I could or should, most likely.

Which is not to say that other people won't be able to eat more than enough to make the All You Can Eat section a financially savvy move. I just know I couldn't do it.

As for a bag of peanuts, (whispering so that Lew Wolff doesn't hear me and get any bright ideas) -- you can bring your own that you can buy at a grocery store for much less than the Coliseum will charge you. And it's all perfectly legal.

2008-01-24 17:20:54
11.   El Lay Dave
I would not sit in the seats in the drop line region below the upper deck. There's a reason why the Kobayashi/Chestnut section in Dodger Stadium is the RF pavilion.
2008-04-04 10:58:28
12.   SaveFarris
Nothing can kill the Grimace.

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