The realities of Sutter Health Park as a permanent home for the A’s

May 6, 2024, 8:34 AM

The San Francisco Giants take on the Sacramento River Cats at Sutter Health Park....

(Sactown Sports)

(Sactown Sports)

There are a million questions regarding the A’s future and what would happen next if Las Vegas falls through.

Sutter Health Park has been deemed good enough to be the A’s temporary home, but what about making it permanent? The last time I visited Sutter Health Park was through a completely different lens.

It was the Giants vs. the River Cats, and even though there were rumblings about the A’s coming to Sacramento, nothing was official. But as I entered the ballpark and walked into the cozy media room last Thursday, I had no choice but to view things differently. How would this ballpark look with a big-league crowd?

The good news is that I saw what the ballpark looked like when there was a sellout, which it was during the Giants game (Sutter Health holds 14,014).

(Sacramento River Cats)

The bad news is that it was terribly crowded. Parking was fairly close to a nightmare, and concession lines were reminiscent of Disneyland rides (the good ones). As far as the actual seating is concerned, although I appreciate the clever marketing and use of the word “intimate,” with the current setup, the capacity is over 20,000 less than the current smallest stadium in MLB (Progressive Field).

Then there’s the money aspect.

The average MLB attendance in 2023 was 29,276. The average ticket price was $37, which means average ticket sales for the season would be $87.7 million. But let’s just say while the A’s are here, MLB simply wants Sacramento to make as much as Oakland, maybe a little more.

Based on the average price of $37, the A’s brought in $30.7 million in ticket sales. This was with an average of 10,275 fans per game, which Sutter Health could definitely support technically, but I’m not sure how sustainable it would be logistically. But that’s not unique to the home of the River Cats, most public venues aren’t built to handle full capacity every single day.

With a slogan of “the most intimate setting in baseball,” one would think that type of access comes with a price, so the Coliseum ticket sales mark definitely feels attainable. For reference, Sutter Health Park seats 10,624, not including the lawn seating. So 10,275 fans per game is basically all of the permanent seats filled, every game.

Do I think they can get that when the Yankees or Red Sox are in town? Absolutely. Will they get that on a Tuesday against the Angels or Tigers? I’m not so sure.

Sutter Health Park welcoming the Oakland A's to Sacramento

Could Sutter Health Park be a permanent home for the MLB?

Even if the A’s can reach the Coliseum numbers in Sacramento, that’s still not nearly enough ticket revenue to convince MLB the A’s can stay there. So, how do they expand? Do they build up? Do they build out? When would this start? What about concessions and parking? Those questions still remain regarding this area of Vivek Ranadivé’s grand plan.

But we do know this:  Making as much money as the Coliseum is currently making is not the goal.

When I asked a source who works for the league and has spent some time in the ballpark whether Sutter Health Park could transition to a permanent MLB ballpark, they mouthed the words, “No way.”

Whether it’s an expansion team or the A’s, if Sacramento has to start from scratch with a new ballpark, how much of a leg up on the competition will Major League Baseball really give them in the bidding war? I guess we will eventually find out.

Upcoming schedule for the Oakland Athletics

  • Monday, May 6th-Wednesday, May 8th – vs. Texas Rangers
  • Friday, May 10th-Sunday, May 12th – @ Seattle Mariners
  • Monday, May 13th-Thursday, May 16th – @ Houston Astros
  • Friday, May 17th-Sunday, May 19th – @ Kansas City Royals
  • Tuesday, May 21st-Thursday, May 23rd – vs. Colorado Rockies

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The realities of Sutter Health Park as a permanent home for the A’s