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Angry San Francisco Giants fans rail against beer costs, parking fees, BART as attendance drops

Attendance for an April 24 game against the St. Louis Cardinals was listed at 20,203. | Ethan Kassel/The Standard

Expensive parking, smaller beer that’s hardly “cheaper” than the full-size options and seemingly unsafe public transit have all been cited as factors that have kept San Francisco Giants fans away from Oracle Park.

Fans on Reddit responded to an analysis The Standard recently did of this year's slumping attendance, explaining their reasoning for staying home instead of going out to the ballpark—and they didn’t hold back.

“Cheaper beer? You mean smaller beer,” Reddit user LJSearles commented.

The 14-ounce domestic options, available at select Doggie Diner stands for $9 each, are cheaper than the full-size options on a per-ounce basis, but it’s far from a bargain, fans said. Other fans blamed a particularly wet spring for low attendance, while some said missing out signing big-name stars such as Aaron Judge hurt attendance numbers.

Parking Woes

Parking at Pier 30, a half-mile walk from Oracle Park, regularly costs $35. | Ethan Kassel/The Standard

Sparse parking availability was also noted by numerous fans, with many lamenting having to pay $40 or more for a spot. However, much of the parking around the stadium is operated by third parties, as SF Giants Transportation Director Joshua Karlin-Resnick noted.

“We control about 2,000 of the 10,000 spaces in the area,” he said in an interview with The Standard. “We control Lot A and Pier 48, which is where the Mission Rock project started a couple years ago, and we control the garage at 153 Townsend.”

Other parking in the area, such as the spaces that cost upward of $100 during 2014 playoff games, are operated by third parties.

“There’s lots of parking in the area, and our task as a transportation team is to help people find that parking,” Karlin-Resnick said. “We do that through SpotHero.”

Fans that search for parking on the team website are directed to SpotHero, which offers a variety of options around the area. For Tuesday night’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Lot A was available for $40, while the 153 Townsend St. garage runs for a hefty $54. There are lots offering $15 parking, most of which are roughly a 15-minute walk from the stadium. 

Karlin-Resnick noted that roughly 650 spaces have been lost to the construction of the new Mission Rock apartments, and Chase Center, which broke ground in 2017, is on the site of another former parking lot.

“The whole area has changed, and we’re trying to adapt and help our fans adapt. We have some really good tools to help our fans do that,” Karlin-Resnick said.

Transit Troubles

A BART police officer stands guard at the Powell Street Station entrance on April 8, 2019. | Amy Osborne/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images | Source: Amy Osborne/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

While Oracle Park is unmatched with the number of public transportation options available to fans, riders feel that efficiency and safety are compromised. Ongoing Caltrain construction has forced South Bay patrons to take bus bridges, while nearly half of BART riders say they’ve witnessed crime on the system. Caltrain did not respond to requests for comment by publication time.

“BART Police Department launched a redeployment plan in March that has dramatically increased the number of officers on our trains. We now have an additional eight to 18 officers patrolling trains per shift. That visible safety presence is making a difference,” BART spokesperson Chris Filippi said. 

For the first month of BART police’s heightened presence up to April 16, the police department recorded a 38% decrease in calls for service and a 40% increase in arrests, Filippi said.

While some stadiums, such as Truist Park in Atlanta and Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium, were built with an expectation that fans would mostly travel to games by car, only half of Oracle Park patrons typically drive to games, according to Karlin-Resnick. The stadium has the fifth-highest percentage of fans that take public transit to games in Major League Baseball.

“That’s caused by where we are, and that’s been the case since the ballpark opened,” Karlin-Resnick said.

Giants executives do expect attendance numbers to rebound in the summer months, though. Senior Vice President of Ticket Sales Russ Stanley said summer tourism, which is projected to rise beyond pre-pandemic levels, helps bring fans to Oracle Park.

“When people visit San Francisco, they want to go to Alcatraz, they want to see the Golden Gate Bridge and they want to eat a crab sandwich at Oracle Park,” he said.

Stanley also highlighted July’s slate of home games as matchups that should draw big crowds. The Seattle Mariners, whose first playoff appearance in over 20 years sparked newfound excitement for the team, are in town on July 4, and the Boston Red Sox make a rare visit at the end of the month.