Oakland Coliseum

Oakland Athletics

Last visit: April 12, 2024

Goodbye old girl. You weren’t much to look at, but some how, I’ll miss you. It feels weird that sometime soon, this will be replaced with a review for Sutter Health Park.

Look, there are really only two “bad” ballparks in baseball. This was one. Formerly a decent place to watch a game, the nearly 60-year-old Oakland Coliseum just didn’t age well.

Located in a dodgy part of Oakland, The Coliseum is, frankly, a dump. Plumbing issues have led to raw sewage leaks in the dugouts and lower bowl seats. The concourses are cramped. There’s no discernible main entrance for the photo op, and the exterior architecture has all the charm of a toothache. But until very recently, that didn’t stop the diehards from making this a fun place to hang. You could enjoy some good suds and decent grub while watching a consistently competitive team play in near perfect East Bay weather, and you left feeling happy almost in spite of the place. But with the recent tank job by A’s ownership, the ill-advised Vegas move forthcoming, and the temporary relocation to Sacramento, the fans have stopped coming. This has made the flaws just feel even more pronounced, and why it’s the worst park in Major League Baseball.

So for one last time, let’s look at baseball’s Last Dive Bar, the venerable Oakland Coliseum.


Exterior aesthetics 1/10; Interior & Concourse Aesthetics 3/10; Sightlines 1/5; Seating 3/5; Traffic flow 2/5; Scoreboard 4/10; Amenities & entertainment 3/5; Bars & Restaurants 4/5; Celebrating history 3/5; Grand entrance 1/5; Sense of place 8/25; WOW Factor 3/10. Total 36 points divided by 2 for 18.

This is easily the worst structure in Major League Baseball.


  • It’s an open-air stadium with lush green grass
  • Because they’re aren’t rows for suites, the last deck isn’t as high as in other ballparks
  • The Shibe Park Tavern is a cool stadium bar (though it’s tucked away with terrible signage, so you need to know it’s there to get there)
  • The old troughs in the Men’s rooms permit good throughput, so guys aren’t in the can for long
  • There is just enough entertainment that if you’re going with kiddies, you may be able to amuse them for an inning or two
  • The Treehouse is a pretty cool social area (assuming there’s anyone in there with whom to be social)
  • The A’s have a lot of afternoon games, so you may be skipping work for baseball


  • There’s more foul territory here than any ballpark. A front row seat along third base is further away from the pitcher than some loge level seats in other ballparks. Unless you’re right behind the plate, you’ll have some distance.
  • There’s no “here” there. The Coliseum lacks a grand entrance. There’s no front door. Enter through one of the 4 main portals. The only sign that you’re at the home of the Oakland Athletics is a banner with an A’s logo
  • If you have an infield seat, instead of a nice view of the Oakland hills, you are treated to a view of a no-longer-used Mount Davis; i.e. empty tarped-over bleachers built for the since-deposed Raiders. As such, there’s no natural landmark to indicate you are in Northern California.
  • The seats, while relatively wide, are older and can be a tad uncomfortable
  • The scoreboards are thoroughly underwhelming
  • From certain seats, the PA system is unclear
  • The A’s have decided to be like their cross-bay rivals and employ a female PA announcer; however, like everything else about this team, she isn’t nearly as good as the Giants’ announcer, and the move feels pandering
  • The washrooms look (and smell) like an old science experiment
  • It feels like parts of the stadium have a good 58 years of grime on them
  • The walk to and from the BART stop feels like a dystopian march as you pass through a caged overpass populated with some interesting characters
  • The cramped main concession area is between the 100 and 200 levels. Meaning if you have nice seat down low in the 100 level, you’re looking at a 40 row hike up to get a beer.
  • The parking lot where much of the pre-game action takes place (and which is a virtual monopoly given the relative lack of safe parking options nearby) charges $30 for non-season ticket holders

Everyone knows that the A’s need a new stadium. Alas, it will be just off the Vegas Strip* rather than here in Oakland.


FOOD 6/10

As lousy as the structure is, the in-game experience is pretty good. It starts with the food. Assuming they expect a big enough crowd to open the range of concession stands.

Tasty treats included BBQ rib tips, loaded nachos, an excellent bacon-wrapped dog, hand-breaded chicken tenders (with cool sauces), a red coconut curry bowl, pulled pork sandwiches, fish and chips, and boozy popsicles (I liked the Moscow Mule). The Ahi poke tacos in Shibe Park Tavern, while a little “fancy” for the Coliseum, were legit (alas, due to small crowds, they likely aren’t serving food in the Tavern on game day). It’s a solid line up with the only downside being long lines when crowds are above 15,000 (which may no longer be a problem).

My personal fave: The Hot Link sausage with peppers and onions is one of the better encased meats in baseball.

As a bonus, there are usually food truck(s) open before the game for you to enjoy. They rotate, but I’ve enjoyed good Mexican, Hawaiian, and Middle Eastern fare; I’ve also seen burgers, BBQ, wings, Asian food, ice cream/custard and (for day games) brunch. Unfortunately, with smaller crowds, often only one truck sets up, so choice isn’t as plentiful as before.

BEER 7/10

With all the great beer offered in NoCal, the A’s were always well ahead of the curve in offering top flight beer at the stadium. While other parks have caught up (and even passed), I salute the A’s for recognizing that paying big money for a beer is easier when it’s a high-quality beer.

As good as it is, it was even better pre-COVID. I miss the old Guinness bar, and it seems as if many of the locals have been pushed out for the “craft options” of the big brewers. That said, Elysian, Firestone Walker, Stone, Golden Road, and Kona aren’t bad options, and there’s a healthy assortment of imports.

A little hunting will find you California brews from Henhouse, Racer, Drakes, and Calicraft. The best concentration of locals is in the Gastropub attached to the Shibe Park Tavern. And the Treehouse often has a yummy local option or two.


This is another reason why the A’s are leaving the Coliseum. There’s nothing of note around it, and it gets seedy in a hurry meaning you really don’t want to be wandering too far on foot at night. While parts of Oakland are kinda funky and have a gritty hipness to them, this isn’t one of them.

The BART stop is right there, meaning you can easily come in from other more desirable Bay Area neighborhoods and be dropped off at the Coliseum door. And the tailgate scene was pretty good. But still, it rivals the Mets for worst setting in baseball.

COST 4/5

The A’s, despite operating in one of the most expensive metro areas in the country, always score in the bottom third of the fan cost index. Ball fans should enjoy this while they can, as I can’t see them remaining cheap at a 14,000-seat ballpark, or when (if) they move to Vegas.

They offer amazing discounts for season ticket holders, thus driving this cost down even more for them. You can get a good seat for a very fair price right from the team and good deals are available on the secondary market. I almost gave them a 3 instead of a 4 based on the parking fee, but given the market, they deserve the 4 by keeping everything else reasonable.


With a large parking lot, highway access and a mass transit stop, it’s relatively easy to get to whether you’re driving or not. Just account for potentially brutal traffic if you’re crossing bridges.


The East Bay rivals San Diego for the best weather in the country (even though in my 20-game lifetime sample, I’ve suffered a two-hour delay and a rare rainout). Early season, mid-season or late season, you’re likely to get a nice day. And unlike San Francisco, the nights, while often chilly, aren’t nearly as bone-crushingly cold.

VIBE 13/25

Here’s the weird thing. I liked going to A’s games. Despite the fact that the structure was the worst in baseball, I often left the Coliseum wanting to go back, even as current ownership allowed the stadium to fall further behind its rivals.

Was it the grit of the place which reminds me of my past trips to old Tiger Stadium in Detroit? Or perhaps the glow of the California sun? Maybe it’s because the place smelled like an old-timey stadium. It could be because you felt welcome by an excellent game staff that made you feel like they’re genuinely grateful that you’re there. Or because peeing in a trough seems right when at a ball game. Or because every other stadium offers a pristine experience, while an A’s game offered an old-school blue-collar authenticity. In the end, The Coliseum was a dive, but that made it stand out amidst a sea of upscale gastropubs.

While crowds are embarrassingly small, fans who show up are among the best in baseball. On some games, you may still get some loud, music-playing, flag-waving fans filling the outfield. When the A’s were a contender, there was a vibrancy and intensity that rivals anything on the east coast. A BART trip after a big A’s win is a hoot. Hell, my last game two games resulted in walk-off wins for the Home Nine. Both had announced crowds of less than 5,600, but they had some atmosphere and juice.



Three fun East Bay restaurants:

  • World Famous Hotboys (Downtown Oakland. Nashville hot chicken. Mmmmm.)
  • Soba Ichi (West Oakland. A little off the beaten path, but a great noodle shop that’s not far from Ghost Town Brewing.)
  • Sons of Liberty Ale House (American restaurant with slightly quirky takes on comfort foods, and a killer drinks list. One long BART stop south of Coliseum in San Leandro)
  • OF NOTE: There used to be an outpost of legendary West Coast burger joint In N Out Burger about a mile from the Coliseum, and it was a go-to stop for years. But it became the first In N Out ever to shut its doors, not because it wasn’t busy, but because of crime and safety concerns. That should tell you something about the area! Assuming you have wheels, and you can’t get these from where you live, still hit one in San Lorenzo or Alameda.

Three places to imbibe before the game:

In honesty, the parking lot is really the only place to pregame in the immediate vicinity. If you’re willing to take a short drive, uber or BART ride to the Coliseum, these are “close”:

  • Sante Adairius Rustic Ales Oakland Arbor (This Capitola-based brewery took over this downtown Oakland 1870s Victorian building when the Trappist closed and has kept it a destination for beer nerds, especially those who dig Belgian-style brews. 3 BART stops and a 4-block walk from the Coliseum)
  • Tiger’s Tap Room (Great NoCal beer list in this Jack London Square haunt. Closes early evening, so pre-game or do it after a day game. Pair it with a stop at Original Pattern Brewery for a sudsy afternoon.)
  • Line 51 Brewing (Jack London. Brewery that also serves up top-notch Chicago dogs and Italian beef sandwiches. While in the area, also check out Plank for their bowling, bocce and arcade in addition to a waterfront beer garden and full menu.)

One bar “in the area” worth hitting:

Russian River Brewing. About an hour from Oakland (in light traffic), this Santa Rosa brewery is perhaps my favorite brewpub in the country. The Full Paddle beer flight is easily the best beer flight you’ll ever have, allowing you to explore 20+ brews, many of them exceptional, in both American and Belgian styles. Food’s just OK, but the beer is transcendent. Hopefully you’re staying in the area to do some wine touring the next day

Three craft breweries in the area worthy of your time:

  • Almanac Beer Co (Alameda. Large indoor-outdoor space with food trucks)
  • Ghost Town Brewing (West Oakland. Good hoppies and hazies, and a fantastic cream ale)
  • Drake’s Brewing Dealership (Oakland. Good beer and really good wood-fired pizza in an old car dealership. 5 blocks from 19th St BART station)

Three fun tourist attractions in the area:

  • Jack London Square (Oakland. A mix of shops and restaurants by the water. Be sure to stop in at Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon for a drink.)
  • Napa/Sonoma Valley wineries (about a 60-mile drive north. Could spend several days here if that’s your bag.)
  • With kids/kids at heart: California’s Great America (classic amusement park, about 30 miles south). Without kids: Muir Woods and Sausalito (see giant redwoods, and spend a few hours exploring the cafes and galleries of this quaint seaside town that’s, frankly, easier to access from the San Francisco side of the bay.)


This was the 1990 Ellen Barkin of stadiums: unattractive in the conventional sense, yet still somehow alluring. The bones of this place were sub-par, concession crowding was an issue, and it was a get-in/get-out place due to a lack of a scene in the immediate area. But there’s a grit here you didn’t get anywhere else. And the weather’s great. In spite of itself, The Coliseum was a fun place to catch a game.

So even as the lowest-scoring ballpark in Major League Baseball, it brought something to the table. In a weirdly sad way, I say goodbye and not “good riddance”.