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O.co Coliseum (map it)
7000 Coliseum Way
Oakland, CA 94621
Year Opened: 1966
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The Oakland Raiders began play at the O.co Coliseum (then, the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum) in 1966, two years before Charlie Finley moved the Athletics west from Kansas City.
There are definite differences between an A's game and a Raiders game, the most obvious of which is probably the tarped off third deck during A's games that the Raiders use as seating. Beyond that, the atmosphere is entirely different with different people, a different sport, and a packed house.
The Coliseum is unique in that the playing surface is below ground level. Because of this, when fans enter gates they're looking down on the field from the top of the first level. From there you head downstairs to a lower level seat and upstairs to the second and third levels.
The Coliseum has been at the bottom tier of NFL stadiums along with California neighbors Candlestick Park and Qualcomm Stadium. Because of this, many have added the Raiders to the list of potential teams that can make their home at the Los Angeles football stadium. With the passing of Al Davis, much of this speculation has been put on the shelf while the front office figures their next steps.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Much of the food options from the A's games are available at Raiders games with the added bonus that all concession stands are open and ready for business.
The main difference is that beer prices are at a premium for the football games. Beers can reach the $9.50 plateau while the $5 variety of the same beer is available during baseball season.
Many of the normal options are available at The Coliseum like hot dogs, nachos, and garlic fries. The most popular item may be the teriyaki chicken, a must-try when visiting Oakland.
Even though The Coliseum isn't aging well, a Raiders game is still quite the party.
It starts in the parking lot, hours before kickoff. The Raider Nation gets there early to fire up their grills and toss back a few cold beverages. This moves into The Coliseum, where the party really starts.
Designed like many of the coliseums that were rolled out in the 1960's, the bowl-shape is conducive to good views from any seat. My seat was around the 50 yard in third deck; a great view of the game.
The Raiders and A's share a parking lot with Oracle Arena, home of the Golden State Warriors.
The immediate neighborhood is largely industrial and less than cozy. I wouldn't wander far from the parking lots as the area doesn't have the best reputation. Perhaps because of this, there is no place to eat or drink within walking distance prior to the game.
A worthwhile trip in neighboring San Leandro is Ricky's Sports Theater, ranked 2nd best sports bar in the nation by Sports Illustrated. They have over 100 screens and tons of Raiders memorabilia.
Contrary to popular belief, you shouldn't be scared of the Raiders' fans. They are a passionate fan base made even more special by the years of inept football that they suffered through.
The fans supported the team through the heartbreaking move to Los Angeles and welcomed them with open arms when they moved back to Oakland.
Undoubtedly, Raider fans are boisterous and like the label of bully. Though I've never witnessed any violence at a Raider game, it is obvious that their fans enjoy a certain level of intimidation. They are one with the silver and black.
The Black Hole is one of the most passionate and chaotic sections in all of sports. They're rambunctious fervor when the opposing team is in the redzone is mob-like. This is home field advantage to the max.
The most convenient way to get to the stadium is by taking BART which stretches over much of the Bay Area. The Coliseum/Airport Station is right on the other side of San Leandro Street accessible by the pedestrian overpass. Other public transportation options are AC Transit buses and Amtrak trains, both with stops for The Coliseum.
If driving on 880, exit at 66th Avenue or Hegenberger to access the Coliseum. It's a pretty easy drive into the area with wide freeways and surface streets.
The one knock is the time it takes to get through the security lines and into The Coliseum. I've waited for up to 25 minutes in a line (if you can call it that) to get inside.
Once inside there seemed to be plenty of restroom and concession access on the third level that I was on. It may be different on the lower level as the first and second decks share the same promenade.
With the cheapest ticket at $56 combined with high concession prices and parking at $35 the Coliseum is just about as expensive as any venue in the NFL. However, it doesn't provide the state of the art amenities as the newer stadiums around the league.
My best tip is to take BART to the game as a round trip ticket will cost you around $10 depending on where in the system you are coming from.
It's a pretty bare bones experience at O.co. With the exception of the championship flags there isn't much in the way of memorabilia or nostalgia. But that's sort of the way the Raiders roll, as they don't retire numbers.
Between the coliseum and the arena next door is a ring of championship plaques honoring the successes of the teams that play there; 4 for the A's, 3 for the Raiders, and 1 for the Warriors.
Lastly, there is a torch lit in honor of legendary owner and infamous personality Al Davis after he passed away early this season. I'm not sure if it's a permanent thing but it's certainly a nice touch.
As a first time visitor from 7000 miles away in England, I had traveled the vast (and expensive) distance to the Bay area for the sole purpose of seeing the Raiders play. So when I went to the Oakland Coliseum that first Sunday, my expectations were high. The access to the stadium from where I was staying was easy by public transport, and I took the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transport, or a train to you and me).
There was a sea of silver and black flags attached to vehicles in the car park, and the fan base might look like they were from a Hells Angel convention, but they made me very welcome in every way.
Now let's be honest, the O.co Coliseum is one of the older, and smaller stadiums in the league. But being from England, I'm used to much smaller ball parks, so it wasn't a letdown for me in any way. When I walked out of the corridor into the stadium proper, it was half full and shining in the bright California sun. It was a sight, and a feeling I will never forget. The whole atmosphere, from the warm ups to the end of the game, was fantastic. This stadium has so much history, you can almost feel it.
The price of admission I thought was fair, tickets are between $48 and $160, depending on where you wanted to sit. The higher priced seats have waitress service and a private bar. The only downside was the food was quite limited, the drinks were very over priced ($8 for a beer), and there were no real bars or facilities outside the stadium.
The ticket I had was right by the player's tunnel, which proved a really good decision. About 30 minutes before the game started, the Raiderettes were down on the field close by, and they came up into the crowd to speak to the fans and have their pictures taken with us. I got pictures with the Raiderettes!
When they introduced the players, and they came running out of the tunnel, they high fived the hands of the fans who were leaning over, and I was one of them. Robert Gallery slapped my hand, Robert Gallery!
Oakland lost the game, but the electric feeling around the stadium could be felt even to the final whistle. If the Raiders made a play, the whole stadium erupted into cheering and screaming, and the passion of the fans was tangible. It might not be the biggest or the best stadium in terms of capacity or facilities, but in Oakland it really is the people who make it special.
It isn't an accident that I have been back twice since. The last time I got a ticket to the â??Black Hole' with the hard core fans. That was also a great experience, and the atmosphere there is even more intense.
8520 Pardee Drive
Oakland, CA 94621
Oakland, CA 94607