Q&A: A's COO Chris Giles on Coliseum upgrades, new ballpark, fan enthusiasm


Q&A: A's COO Chris Giles on Coliseum upgrades, new ballpark, fan enthusiasm

While the A's hope to soon have a new stadium in the East Bay, they haven't forgotten about their current home.

For the third straight year, the Oakland Coliseum is getting significant upgrades. Among the new improvements for next season are theater boxes, lounge seats, and terrace tables, with more to come.

A's Chief Operating Officer Chris Giles graciously took a few minutes to chat with us about the stadium enhancements, the new ballpark, and more.

NBC Sports California: First of all, congratulations on the upgrades. What went into them and how excited are you to improve the Coliseum once again this offseason?

Chris Giles: We got a lot of good feedback on the upgrades we've done over the last two years, starting with Shibe Park Tavern and Championship Plaza, and then The Treehouse that we did last year. We really started to look holistically at the Coliseum and what our fans were asking for. We had completely sold out of all the premium experiences at the Coliseum and were really looking to build out some variety in that area. We'll be building lounge seats, theater boxes, and a brand new table terrace section as well as two new group spaces.

With all the talk about the new ballpark, how important is it to still upgrade the Coliseum and keep improving the fan experience there?

We look at the fan experience that we have at the Coliseum as really one of our top priorities. We're not abandoning the Coliseum by any means. Not only are we not abandoning it, we're continuing to invest. It's not only good for our fans, but it's good for us as a learning opportunity.

Looking at all the young talent on the A's roster and the success you had last year on the field, not to mention a new ballpark hopefully in the works, how much fun is it to be part of the organization right now?

Yeah, it's been really cool to just watch the accolades come in. The team last year was incredible and we expect it to be another exciting year. We're obviously continuing to work hard on the new ballpark efforts and we really think about this as an opportunity to really revitalize our fan base. We sold four times as many A's Access memberships this offseason as we did season tickets the year before. We're really pleased with how the fan base is responding.

That actually leads us right into our next question: You clearly are not afraid to try things that haven't been done before in baseball, or sports in general. All Access is a great example of that. How much do you look to stay ahead of the curve in that sense?

We're never afraid to try new things. We're also not reluctant to stick with things that work. We're just taking a careful look at our business. It starts by listening to our fans and understanding what they want and then being responsive to those requests.

You sent a tweet mentioning the possibility of some more upgrades coming. Any hints you can give us?

Yeah, we've got another one coming. It's probably going to be a few months until we're prepared to say anything more about it.

Fair enough. How about an update on the new ballpark?

We continue to make great progress with both sides and we're putting together a plan. We put out there that we're going to open a ballpark by 2023 and we still believe we can achieve that timing.

How Khris Davis, Stephen Piscotty, Matt Olson gave A's plenty of value


How Khris Davis, Stephen Piscotty, Matt Olson gave A's plenty of value

The 2018 A's became the first team in MLB history to make the playoffs after starting the season with the lowest payroll, but they got plenty of value beyond Opening Day.

Forbes' Robert Kuenster compiled a list of players who hit 25 or more home runs in 2018, and broke down how much each team paid per home run. Three A's -- slugger Khris Davis, outfielder Stephen Piscotty, and first baseman Matt Chapman -- reached the mark, and compared favorably to the rest of the bigs.

The A's got the most value with Matt Olson. Olson hit 29 homers on a $547,500 base salary, so Oakland paid about $18,879 per Olson dinger. That was the eighth-lowest mark in all of baseball. Piscotty's $37,037 per home run ($1 million divided by 27) was the lowest price among any 25-homer hitter who made six figures.

Each of Khris Davis' 48 home runs was worth $218,570, or the 18th-highest. Still, only one of the players ahead of him was within five home runs of his final, MLB-leading total (Boston Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez).

The A's will have cost certainty with Olson (still under team control) and Piscotty (signed through 2024) for the foreseeable future, but the same can't be said of Davis. 2019 is his final year of arbitration, and he can become an unrestricted free agent in 2020.

Oakland's front office said a payroll increase will happen next season, and a potential Davis extension figures to be part of that. Considering how valuable Davis was this season, paying more per home run would still be money well spent.

A's Khris Davis wins Edgar Martinez Award because he actually was a DH


A's Khris Davis wins Edgar Martinez Award because he actually was a DH

It turns out playing the position is important for winning a positional award.

A's slugger Khris Davis won the Edgar Martinez Outstanding DH Award Tuesday as the AL's best designated hitter.

[RELATED: A's have had 'preliminary talks' on Khris Davis contract extension]

Davis beat out Boston Red Sox DH/outfielder J.D. Martinez for the honors. Earlier this month, though, Martinez edged Davis in winning the AL Silver Slugger as a DH and as an outfielder. 

Martinez had a superior statistical season to Davis overall, save for home runs. But Davis beat Martinez where it mattered. 

He was a better designated hitter. 

[RELATED: Mr. Consistent: A's DH Khris Davis makes crazy MLB history]

Before your Inner Mike Francesa pipes up and calls Davis a compiler, remember this is an award for designated hitters. Martinez had a historic 2018, and surely would have won the award had he played the position more.

But he didn't, and Davis took home some hardware after a career year of his own.