OAKLAND — Oakland Athletics owner Lew Wolff is prepared to pull off those green tarps on the third deck of the Coliseum and pack in more fans for the playoffs.
He just wishes more people would come out to games during the stretch run of September the way they did last year to fuel an unlikely run to the AL West title.
The AL West-leading A's sold out the normal Coliseum seating for the playoffs so fast Tuesday they have decided to open up additional seating in the third deck view level by removing the tarps over those sections. All three home playoff games with the Detroit Tigers in the 2012 AL division series sold out, and Oakland's raucous crowds provided quite the home-field advantage.
"Tampa Bay and us should be attracting more attendance, but something is wrong, perhaps the market, or the venue or something," Wolff said in an email Tuesday night. "I was hoping that the stretch run would draw sellouts or close to sellouts. We have excellent reception to the playoff games and I will open the tarps for those games if we are in the playoffs, as I anticipate we will be."
Oakland drew an announced crowd of 18,771 for Tuesday night's game against the Angels, following 14,629 on Monday for the series opener on the heels of a 5-1 A's road trip.
With approximately 12,000 extra seats available — which includes space for overflow media — the capacity will go from 35,067 to 48,146. That doesn't include the highest Mt. Davis section, the fourth level on the ballpark's east side. Tickets for three potential AL division series games to be played next month at the Coliseum sold out in two hours Tuesday, prompting the decision.
The first potential home playoff game sold out in 40 minutes. Oakland officials have only made decisions about stadium capacity for the first round, the team said.
Manager Bob Melvin has praised the fans for their support, especially last fall. The A's became the first team in major league history to win a division or pennant after trailing by five games with fewer than 10 to play, sweeping the Texas Rangers in the season-ending series to win the West in Game No. 162.
He would be thrilled to have more people in the stands, but isn't ready to discuss that until his club has clinched a playoff berth.
"I could imagine," he said. "We still need to get there first."