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|| News Item: Posted 2000-04-27

$$$ Rule in Oakland
By Brad Mangin

Photo by Brad Mangin

Photo by Brad Mangin
This season the marketing department for the Oakland Athletics thought it would be cool to add field level box seats like many other teams in Major League Baseball. The A's built a box on the field along the first base side only. This brings some fans closer to the game and adds some revenue to a financially strapped ballcub like the A's. By selling out all field boxes for all 81 home games they can generate a few extra hundred thousand dollars a year so they can afford to go keep a left-handed middle-inning relief pitcher with an ERA of 5.86.

The boxes are fun for rich fans and corporate types that get to sit in them and enjoy waiter service, but they are terrible for photographers. We used to have two big photo boxes outside first base that could accommodate around 10-12 photographers. Now we have one tiny box that will only fit four. The spots are assigned to: AP, newspaper, newspaper and licensee (card companies). This box is OK for shooting batters but pretty awful for shooting anything at second base because you are even with the bag at first and get blocked a lot, and the white Chevron ad on the left-centerfield fence makes a terrible background. The box is also VERY crowded.

The nice folks in media relations and stadium ops had nothing to do with the changes. Marketing took over and never consulted anyone. After a meeting with team photographer Michael Zagaris we were able to get the club to build us a bigger box for outside third base that will now fit around 6-7 shooters.

Photo by Brad Mangin

Photo by Brad Mangin
The inside positions remain very good and were even improved a little bit by the lowering of the wooden structure that supports the backstop netting, allowing a wider variety of angles to shoot the pitcher from while shooting thru the screen without having to climb onto a TV case. These positions are always pretty wide open as shooters are constantly rotating thru the area to shoot different pitchers and infielders from different angles.

If you come to Oakland to shoot the A's and you wanna shoot from third base you gotta get there early and mark a spot. If you are working for a licensee you can get into a rotation with the other licensee's for the one spot outside first. On weekday afternoons there are some fine spots in the TV area between the first base dugout and the photo box that we can use because these games usually aren't televised.

Lucky for us the team photographer Michael Zagaris is allowed to shoot from a squatting position anywhere he wants to (even in front of the field box) so he doesn't take up a spot in any of the photo boxes. Just remember, he is "Live" and in play if a ball hits him...just in case you are scoring at home...

(Brad Mangin is a freelance photographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area.)

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