What should certainly prove to be one of the most memorable promotions in baseball in 2018 will take place in Oakland, where on April 17 fans will be in for a literal treat. Since that particular day marks the exact fiftieth anniversary of the first baseball game in the Oakland Coliseum, all fans will be admitted free of charge.
The promotion is certainly newsworthy, but several details indicate that the risk to the owners is pretty low. First of all, Oakland remains one of the bottom teams in terms of average attendance, its figure of 18,000 ahead of only the Tampa Bay Rays in all of baseball.
The team just barely ahead of them is the Chicago White Sox, who happen to be their opponents for the free game. The South Side squad is in the early stages of a rebuild, meaning they have few stars likely to draw any casual fan to buy a ticket to see them at the Coliseum.
Even against contending teams Oakland’s weekday attendance barely tops 10,000, and even less than that for afternoon games. Of course, the free admission game happens to be a weekday afternoon start, making it likely that the owners will more than make up in concessions and souvenirs what they sacrificed in ticket sales.
In all probability the promotion will result in a bigger profit for Oakland management than just selling the eight thousand or so tickets they would regularly get. In fact, other teams should offer a similar promotion to increase attendance and therefore concession and souvenir sales.
Here are five games in the first half of the season that should be designated as free admission for all fans.
Rays at White Sox on April 12
Not only is it a usually poorly-attended Wednesday afternoon game, but making a poor turnout even more likely is the fact that it takes place the day after the 2018 Opener at Chicago’s newly named Guaranteed Rate Park.
Braves at Reds on April 23
Monday nights are not very popular in the first place, so this game between two rebuilding teams will draw well only if admission is free.
Phillies at Marlins on April 30
Just like the Reds-Braves matchup a week earlier, this contest is on a Monday night and pits two clubs who are picked to finish near the bottom of the National League.
Marlins at Padres on May 30
It is, at least, not on a Monday night, but poor attendance will be expected because it is scheduled for the Tuesday after Memorial Day.
Athletics at Tigers on June 27
Detroit has already unloaded All-Stars such as Justin Verlander, J.D. Martinez and Ian Kinsler, so there will be little temptation to attend this matchup outside of free admission for all.