The Nevada Senate approved $380 million in public money for a Las Vegas ballpark for the Athletics on the same day that fans in Oakland held their long-planned “Reverse Boycott” to fill the Oakland Coliseum and prove their worth to owner John Fisher and Major League Baseball. Fans lined up three hours before the game to grab one of the 7,000 green “SELL” T-shirts provided by community donations and produced by Oaklandish, a local clothing company. The game drew 27,759, the largest home crowd of the season and more than triple the team’s home average of 8,555. The A’s have reduced payroll to the lowest in baseball and used poor attendance and the condition of the ballpark to justify their decision to seek a new home.
As seen in the coverage by ESPN Senior Writer Tim Keown, on June 13, 2023, fans in Oakland held a “Reverse Boycott” at the Oakland Coliseum. The event was intended to fill the stadium and prove to owner John Fisher and Major League Baseball that the fans are worth keeping in Oakland. However, the timing of the event was cruel as the Nevada Senate voted to approve $380 million in public money for a Las Vegas ballpark for the Athletics on the same day.
Despite the news of the Nevada vote, fans in Oakland still showed up in droves to support their team. The game drew 27,759 fans, which was the largest home crowd of the season and more than triple the team’s home average of 8,555. Fans lined up three hours before the game to grab one of the 7,000 green “SELL” T-shirts provided by $39,000 in community donations and produced by Oaklandish, a local clothing company. There was a taco truck, a DJ, and tables set up for fans to make their own anti-Fisher signs.
The A’s have had a tumultuous relationship with their fans in recent years. The team won 97 games in 2019 and made the postseason again in 2020 before Fisher began stripping the team of its young stars, reducing payroll to the lowest in baseball. The team raised ticket prices and did little to nothing to improve the fan experience as the wins dwindled, then used poor attendance and the condition of the ballpark to justify its decision to seek a new home.
The news of the Nevada vote cast a pall over what was expected to be a jubilant display of Oakland’s ability to support its team. “Now we just want to let people vent their frustrations,” said Jorge Leon, the president of the Oakland 68s, a fan club that helped organize the protest. He wore a SELL shirt and a wedding ring that inscribed “Oakland” in A’s script. “If it’s set in stone that they’re leaving for Las Vegas, I hope the mayor kicks them out.”
An A’s fan who asked to be identified only as Dee said, “They have literally repelled the fan base.” “Empty seats by design,” Leon said. “Whatever longshot it is, whoever wants an expansion team should look to Oakland,” Dee said. “There’s a fan base here ready to support a team that deserves it.”
Two hours before the game, the A’s announced they were donating all ticket revenue from the game to the Alameda County Food Bank and the Oakland Public Education Fund. One of the sticking points in the Nevada deliberations was the team’s commitment to the community, which was deemed inadequate by several opponents. The bill passed only after it was amended to force the team to contribute more money to the community.
To bring everything to a head, the “Reverse Boycott” held by fans in Oakland was a bittersweet event. While it was meant to show the A’s and Major League Baseball that the fans are worth keeping in Oakland, the news of the Nevada vote cast a pall over the event. However, the turnout of 27,759 fans was a clear message that there is a fan base in Oakland ready to support a team that deserves it.