SAN FRANCISCO — A’s president Dave Kaval has been on a Twitter bender lately.
After months of relatively normal tweets from his account, Kaval has gone on the offensive since Sunday afternoon. Kaval is taking aim at San Francisco-based media for their lack of coverage of the Giants “declining” attendance this season, as they hosted the A’s Tuesday for the first game of the 2022 Bay Bridge Series.
Around the time the game started with a 6:45 p.m. first pitch, Kaval was trying to make a point that the Giants should be ridiculed for small crowds, much like the A’s have been criticized to begin the year.
At one point, Kaval even tweeted at @OracleSeagull, which is a parody account for the hungry birds that usually take over the ballpark after the game's over.
The seagull has a point. It’s borderline appalling to see an MLB president tweeting like an angry fan, especially on this topic.
Considering the A’s have the lowest average MLB attendance by a large margin (7,943), it seemed like an odd battle for Kaval to pick. Oakland’s leadership – namely Kaval and owner John Fisher – has been crucial to the team’s dwindling season-ticket holder base, due to rising admission prices, frequent public flirting with Las Vegas about a possible ballpark, a cost-cutting offseason that featured four big trades and the departure of longtime manager Bob Melvin. A perfect storm of factors – baseball’s two cheapest rosters and a late reschedule – led to the smallest A’s crowd in Oakland in 42 years last week.
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The Giants, meanwhile, announced Tuesday’s crowd at 32,898, which brings their season average to 32,286. In the last pre-pandemic season in 2019, the Giants averaged 33,429 fans per home game, so Kaval’s assertion that the attendance was “sparse” doesn’t hold much water. In general, baseball's average attendance is also down a bit in 2022 (26,345) from pre-pandemic levels in 2019 (28,204).
If the A’s top 32,858 for a home game all year, that’d be a major accomplishment. For reference, Oakland’s biggest crowd so far this season is 17,503 and they brought in a total of 55,598 fans during their seven-game homestand to start the year.
Kaval is directly responsible for this, given his decision-making power and the team’s shrinking marketing budget over the years. The A's haven't produced a stadium giveaway bobblehead since 2019. Season-ticket prices have doubled in sections across the Coliseum since 2019, when the A's ranked 23rd in MLB with 20,626 fans per game. That was the lone full season the franchise offered the A's Access program, which offered enrollees discounts on tickets, parking, concessions and gear.
"When people are talking about the increase, they’re talking about from three years ago, from the A’s Access era," Kaval told Bay Area News Group's Alex Simon in March. "And that was an era where there was a certain business product, and we’re moving kind of to a new situation and we’re doing everything we can to still make sure we have promotions, ways to get people in the building."
So, from that logic, it appears the A's are making fans are foot the bill for their own "promotions" with the increased ticket prices.
Earlier Tuesday, 95.7 The Game’s Damon Bruce offered to have a “respectful discussion” with Kaval, who then escalated the conversation into an invite for a televised “debate” at the Coliseum. Stay tuned to see if we can work something out, but Kaval is clearly fired up about the issue.