In business, inventory management is crucial. If there are too many widgets on the shelves, you are hosed. All your money is trapped in unsold widgets instead of things like advertising or new widget development. If there are too few wid...
In business, inventory management is crucial. If there are too many widgets on the shelves, you are hosed. All your money is trapped in unsold widgets instead of things like advertising or new widget development. If there are too few widgets on the shelf, you're still hosed. Your customers will buy their widgets from your competition and many buyers won't come back.
The A's have two types of inventory to manage, the players on the field and the seats that surround the field. Since there are plenty of people on this website better-suited to assess the players' performance, I won't delve into the subject of players as inventory, as impersonal as that sounds. (I will make this observation, though: In addition to being a great method for evaluating field performance, sabermetrics is a great way to manage player inventory.)
What I worry about is all those empty seats.
From the A's sales perspective (and now, apparently, the Raiders') the Coliseum simply has too many seats, too much inventory. Prior to the Great Tarp Experiment, the capacity of the Coliseum, with Mt. Davis, was in the 50,000-seat range, not counting luxury boxes and club seats. That capacity was required by the NFL. Multiply 50,000 times 81 home games and you end up with an inventory of more than 4 million seats. Yikes! That's one helluva lot of tickets to sell. Even the almighty Giants, who were bested by only Philadelphia and the Yankees in 2012 attendance, couldn't sell four million tickets.
The A's have a big inventory problem. The number of available seats far exceeds the A's ability to sell those seats. Having an empty seat instead of money in the bank from the sale of that seat is bad enough. But it's actually much worse. The value of a seat, as opposed to a widget, decays rapidly. Once a game begins, the worth of the unsold seats is zero. You can't sell them at a discount in Eastern Europe, either.
Having too many available seats crushes your future cash flow because you won't be able to raise ticket prices. Beyond that, excess capacity makes it almost impossible to draw new audiences in a competitive entertainment market.
The Social Psychology
In promoting the live gate, you must sell the primary attraction, of course. Without that, you might as well be selling widgets. But you must also sell the communal experience of live attendance. Just look at the adorable, Bernie-leaning, bacon-eating, Balfour-loving nutjobs in the right field bleachers. Yeah, they come for the A's, but they also come for each other. The fact that they are there, concentrated above right field, adds value to their experience. They feed off each other's energy and wackiness. They are connected. In live attendance, familiarity breeds, not contempt, but repeat ticket sales.
The A's would like nothing better than to replicate the right-field bleacher experience throughout the stadium. (Actually, in the playoffs last season, they did. And wasn't that nice!) But, most days, the Coliseum is just too damn big. So the A's decided, if they couldn't sell all those seats, they had to make them disappear!
Thus, the Great Tarp Experiment.
Let's face it, the tarps could have been worse. Instead of the A's name and logo on a green background, the tarps might have featured ad signage for Bob's Muffler Boutique and Gabinetti's Italian Dim Sum Bistro. But the A's didn't go to the tarps for the miniscule, direct ad revenue they might have gleaned. (I believe the idea was to make the upper deck fade away rather than draw attention to it.) I have heard some suggest the A's did it to save money on ushers and security for the upper deck. Although saving money is rarely a bad idea, the A's were not being cheap. Installing those tarps probably cost a lot more than a couple of ushers.
Beyond a long-term capacity reduction, I'm convinced the A's Great Tarp Experiment was prompted by something more benign: A genuine desire to enhance the value of the live experience for the fans. And the A's d