The Oakland A’s are taking a head-first slide into cryptocurrency.
The San Francisco East Bay ballclub announced that fans can buy a six-seat suite for the 2021, 81-game home season in the Oakland Coliseum for a single bitcoin, valued at one point Sunday at $60,105.96.
The box costs $64,500 in U.S. currency, A’s president Dave Kaval told Sportico in an exclusive interview at Hohokam Stadium in Mesa, Ariz., where the club plays its spring training games. A single game, six-seat box with all the accoutrements goes for $594 for select April contests.
“So you’re getting a little bit of a bitcoin discount right now,” Kaval said with a chuckle. “Obviously it could change, but right now you’re getting a discount.”
The bitcoin offer is good until April 1, when the A’s open the season at home against the American League West division rival Houston Astros, allowing buyers to play the fluctuations of the crypto market.
Bitcoin’s historic volatility has been pronounced of late, with a recent high of nearly $62,000 on Saturday, rising from $29,000 this past Dec. 31.
Suffice to say the A’s wouldn’t be making this offer if a bitcoin now was worth $29,000.
“No, no, exactly,” Kaval said. “Part of the reason we’re doing this is the price makes sense. Since a bitcoin is worth about the same as a season suite it gives our fans some different choices. And it kind of tests it to see if it’s something we’d like to do in more aspects of our business.
“And the other reason is, especially in the Bay Area you see more people discussing or transacting with bitcoin. We’re trying to be innovative in an era that we’re in the forefront. The A’s have always had a long history of innovating, so we felt this is a great way to do that.”
Michael Lewis called the A’s foray into baseball analytics, Moneyball. Call this Crytoball. The A’s have 100 such suites to sell at the single bitcoin price. With about 5,000 season ticket equivalents, the A’s are also in the market to sell some individual game tickets.
Seat sales in any currency were enabled just earlier this month when California governor Gavin Newsom cleared the state’s five Major League teams to open the season at 20% capacity in their individual ballparks.
Fans weren’t allowed in ballparks anywhere in the U.S. during last year’s COVID-abbreviated 60-game season, so Kaval, one of the youngest club presidents in the league at 45, is obviously having some fun with people returning to the stands.
Last year, fans were only allowed to attend the six National League Championship Series games and six World Series games at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, and only at about 11,500 of the 40,300 capacity.
Because of relaxed health and safety protocols in the state of Texas, the Rangers are planning to open the season at 100% capacity.
The old Coliseum, which opened for baseball in 1968 upon the A’s arrival from Kansas City, can seat as many as 45,000 a game for baseball. In fact, the last time it was open to fans, 38,435 attended an 8-3 loss to the Texas Rangers on Sept. 22, 2019.
At 20%, the A’s can expect to sell as many as 10,000 tickets per game. Whether that will go up over the course of the season will depend upon increased vaccinations and the spread of the disease.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty about this season as far as how many fans are going to be there and the access to various revenue streams,” Kaval said. “It’s almost impossible to predict right now. From our part we’re just trying to stay flexible. Two months ago we did not think we were going to have fans on opening day. Now we’re going to have 20%.
“So, things are changing in a positive direction. And there’s a lot of demand out there for people who want to go to these games. We just have to let it play out over the next couple of months and see what happens.”