OAKLAND -- All eyes are on the Golden State Warriors as they kick off the Western Conference Finals Wednesday night in San Francisco, while the city the Warriors left behind is also getting some attention for the lack of eyes.
The Oakland Athletics are now averaging just over 8,000 fans per game - down from more than 20,000 in 2019 - and the empty seats are becoming something of a spectacle.
"I moved here in 1980," said Mary Ann Waterman as she arrived at Wednesday's matinee at the Oakland Coliseum. "Billy Martin was the manager. I've been A's fan ever since. 42 years 42 years."
On a perfect afternoon for baseball, there was a common thread among many of those who filed into the Coliseum.
"Only the diehard fans are here, I believe," said fan Stephen Dowd.
It's some of those who remember the glory days of this team and the ballpark who are still showing up to see another noteworthy chapter in A's history.
"I'm not sure if this is the smallest crowd I've seen here," Dowd said, looking around the stadium. "I was here for the 2,700 crowd. I could hear, for the first time, the guy in left field calling for the ball."
"The atmosphere, I feel, has turned," longtime fan Rob Schuetz said before the game. "I think it's because of not knowing if they're staying or not. I think that has a lot to do with it."
Uncertainty and frustration are taking a toll that's easy to see in the stands, what is now been called the loneliest team in baseball.
"I guess I sit up here," Dowd said of his empty upper deck section before pausing. "Well, I could sit down there and be lonely, too, I guess."
"We sit in the sixth row," Waterman said of her foursome. "For a very nice reasonable price."
There are plenty of little upsides to enjoying a baseball game in a building this empty on a day as nice as this, but the emptiness is hard to overstate. And for the fans who are still coming, there's a big question of what comes next. On that, there is a mix of optimism and what might be called acceptance.
"Once the new Coliseum is put together it's going to be packed," said A's fan Dave Edlund. "And I have no doubt about that."
"Part of me wants to be optimistic," Dowd said. "But if I was a gambling man, I wouldn't put my money on it."
"I'm hoping," Schuetz said. "I'm hoping. You just never know."
Hard to say whether attendance numbers have any bearing on the team's future, but fans know days like this at the Coliseum are numbered.
"We love it," Waterman laughed. "This is our home. We love our dumpy Coliseum. It's a dump, it's our dump."
Wednesday was a tough day for the A's and their fans. Oakland lost 14-4 to the Minnesota Twins. The official attendance was 7,106.
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