Athletics Adding Piped-In Crowd Noise with Fans Unable to be at Coliseum Games

John Hickey

Ask any Major Leaguer who has played in the Coliseum as a visitor and he is likely to marvel at how much noise relatively small numbers of Oakland fans can make.

And when the place is packed, it can be like a 747 taking off.

The A’s have gotten used to it over the years and have come to revel in it. So, it wasn’t much of a surprise on Sunday when manager Bob Melvin acknowledged the A’s would be pumping crowd noise into the Coliseum in the near future, probably for workouts, certainly for games.

“We will do that at some point,” Melvin said. “They’re looking at a few different scenarios. We’ll hear that before we get done.”

Other baseball teams are exploring the use of noise to fill in while fans are being excluded during the reign of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Melvin wouldn’t be surprised if all teams come around to some level of augmented fan noise at some point.

“I think it will be consistent around the league that every ballpark will have some sort of something through the sound system,” he said, adding that he wasn’t sure if in some places it would be mostly background noise or whether the noise is like “climbing a hill or something like that.”

First baseman Matt Olson said Sunday afternoon that the club’s first simulated game went without any noise in the stadium.

“It was dead quiet and it was pretty tough, honestly,” Olson said. “A way different feel.”

Olson said he’s heard reports about imported crowd noise, and he’s good with it.

The A’s are trying to lessen the impact of fan-less stands. Already they are leading the charge in the importing of cardboard cutouts based on photos sent in by their fans, and on Friday, the club announced that a special section would be dedicated to raising money to help right fielder Stephen Piscotty’ family ALS CARES Project.

With or without music, Melvin said that having the Coliseum as the workout facility rather than being in the club’s normal spring facility in Mesa, Ariz. – where it was 111 degrees midday Sunday – makes player evaluation more difficult.

“In this type of ballpark as opposed to evaluating in Arizona can be a difficult place to evaluate,” Melvin said. “But in Arizona, you’re playing against different other teams and have fans in the stands and it’s got more of a real feel to a game.

“But I think it’s important that we try to get used to the non-fan factor, and doing it in your home ballpark is probably more conducive to get ready for that.”

Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3

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