Saturday, June 18, 2005

Tales From the BART Bridge

If one is going to the Oakland Coliseum by way of BART, then the BART Bridge is an integral part of the Oakland Athletics Baseball Experience. To cite a few examples from around the MLB, Cubs fans have the Wrigleyville bars (been there, I love it), Red Sox fans have Yawkey Way (never been there), Giants fans have the swanky and way-too-expensive bars and restaurants around SBC Park in "South Beach" (been there and I hate it, not because it's the City, I love bar hopping in the City, but it's just too expensive), and us A's fans have the BART Bridge.

The BART Bridge is not a singular event that repeats itself in a game experience. In fact there are two distinct events those are:
  1. The walk to the Coliseum before a game.
  2. The walk to the Oakland Airport/Coliseum BART station after a game

On the way to a game, after going up the steps from Coliseum BART the first thing you see is a fleet of wheelchairs, each staffed by an A's guest services person. These people are waiting patiently to assist any disabled A's patron in getting to the Coliseum. After walking past the wheelchairs you see a group of cops both from the Oakland PD and BART Police. Not fifty feet away from the police resides the scalpers. For the rest of the walk the predominant speech you will hear is "Buying tickets selling tickets?" I don't know how these scaplers can ply their trade in so close proximity to the cops. The cops either don't care or are on the take. I personally think the cops just don't care, but you never know.

After you encounter the scalpers if you look ahead of you the monolithic Mt. Davis, named after the megalomanical owner of the Oakland Raiders, Al Davis, will come into view. That structure serves no purpose whatsoever for baseball games and in my opinion, is one of the worst seats ever made for any sport. The monotony of this mountain of concrete is only broken up by two huge banners. One black banner with the Raiders logo and their "Commitment to Excellence" motto and a green banner with the A's "corporate" logo (the A's use a different logo for their promotional materials). At the other end of the BART Bridge is the BART Plaza, there is a day of game ticket office different kiosks hawking programs and A's merchandise and other promotional offers. One promotion this year is a GM promotion in which a car is awarded to a fan in attendance at every Friday game. I think it's an MLB wide promotion.

For those showing up to games where promotional giveaways are handed out, the gates by the BART Bridge are usually the gate that don't run out of giveaways until much later. That is how I got my A's Brand "Trucker Hat" despite going through the gate while the National Anthem was being sung.

The walk back to the stadium may seem the same but really it's different. First of all in big crowd games such as Yankees, Red Sox or Giants series, the BART Bridge can really be jammed up and secondly, after a disappointing loss, the quarter of a mile to the BART Station can seem like a long march.

Also, there are no scalpers, instead they start selling other things and become hawkers. These hawkers can be really annoying after a crowded game because they take up valuable real estate on the BART Bridge and cause pedestrian traffic congestion. And remember, the magic words with these hawkers is "Five Dollars."

Knockoff A's caps in a variety of colors? Five Dollars.

Knockoff A's T-shirts? Five Dollars.

Knockoff A's jerseys (even Reggie Jackson throwbacks!)? Five Dollars.

DVDs? Ten Dollars.

What? Ten dollars for knockoff DVDs? Why would I buy a knockoff DVD for ten dollars when I can get a fake throwback jersey for five? Besides, those DVDs probably won't even work on my DVD player anyways.

Any mention of a trek back to Coliseum BART is not complete without mentioning the BART Bridge Sax Guy. This guy plays a variety of tunes on a Tenor Sax that is in desperate need of a new reed. He often plays the Flintstones theme but he will surprise you from time to time, his repetoire is far greater than a few Hanna-Barbera cartoon themes.

Once you reach the BART Station the end of your baseball experience is in sight. All you need to do is wait for your BART train and board it. That train will whisk you away to wherever you came from, no worries about traffic jams, that's leaving a baseball game in style.


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