Oakland Coliseum

Built in 1965 as the larger half of a stadium and arena complex, the Coliseum made its baseball debut in 1968 when Charlie Finley’s Athletics moved in from Kansas City, becoming the first AL team to occupy three different cities in a 15-season span. Perfectly circular, like the nearby arena, it was also home to the NFL Raiders from 1966 to 1981, and then from 1995 to the present.

The Coliseum was built as a no-frills facility with three decks, no roof, and great expanses of exposed gray concrete. Its drab appearance led it to be nicknamed the Oakland Mausoleum, even as the As’ were winning three consecutive World Series in the early 1970s. Its large foul territory made it a pitcher’s park and breezes blowing in from nearby San Francisco Bay made it a poor home run park despite its moderate dimensions of 330-375-400-375-330. But a high deck of center-field skyboxes added for the returning Raiders in 1995 deflected the normal wind patterns and allowed balls to carry better than before. Furthermore, the power alleys were shortened by 13 feet. These changes have made the Coliseum into a less extreme pitcher’s park, and allowed Mark McGwire to attain two consecutive and long-deserved 50-homer seasons before moving to St. Louis and even greater glory.

The Coliseum originally had about 48,600 seats for baseball, but as part of the 1995 renovation, nearly 6,000 seats were removed from baseball use. The stadium is in a suburban light-industrial location near the Oakland airport, but can be reached by rapid transit as well as freeways. Unlike its former competitor Candlestick Park on the other side of the bay, the Coliseum is typically blessed with good baseball weather. As has become common in sports, this facility has sold its naming rights to a commercial sponsor, and thus is now called Network Associates Coliseum.