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Baseball fans buy tickets before the Oakland Athletics versus the Boston Red Sox game at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, Calif. on Monday, July 19, 2010. (Nhat V. Meyer/Mercury News)

Andrew Bailey tapped into an unusual energy source against the Giants recently. The A's closer plugged into the electricity from a rare sellout crowd at the O.co Coliseum -- 36,067 buzzing fans -- as he blazed through a 1-2-3 ninth inning.

"It's definitely something I can feed off when I'm out there," Bailey said the next day. "Your heartbeat gets a little faster when you've got a big crowd like that."

Starting on Tuesday, however, the A's will be hard-pressed to duplicate the atmosphere. They host two unappetizing interleague opponents, the Florida Marlins and the Arizona Diamondbacks, before welcoming the Seattle Mariners for the third of six meetings this season.

That could make for a lonely nine-game homestand for a team already struggling at the gate. Even after three consecutive sellouts against the Giants, the A's rank 27th in the majors in home attendance. Their average crowd is 19,794, which trumps only Kansas City (19,645), Tampa Bay (18,484) and Florida (16,793).

Andy Dolich, an A's marketing executive from 1980-95 and part of the famed "Billy Ball" ad campaign, attended a recent game against the Yankees and looked around at the thousands of empty seats.

"Really, it just made me sad," he said. "There was a time -- and it's getting harder for people to remember -- when the Coliseum was the place to be. It was the Giants who were an afterthought. It was the Giants who were playing in a dump and waiting for high-profile opponents to come into town. It's completely flipped."

Jim Leahey, the A's vice president for marketing and sales, acknowledged Monday that the A's would have preferred to see their flashier interleague opponents, the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies, on the home schedule instead of on the road. But he said the upcoming schedule is counterbalanced by a string of popular promotions.

Most notably, the A's host fireworks night on Saturday -- it's a scheduling coup to be home on Fourth of July weekend. Leahey expects a crowd of around 30,000.

To a lesser extent, Thursday's root beer float day is also an annual drawing card. The A's expect about 20,000 fans.

The reasons behind the A's box office struggles are well-documented. The team wants a new venue, pronto, but the process is being held up as commissioner Bud Selig's blue ribbon panel studies the viability of a proposed move to San Jose. (Calling it a "complex situation," a league spokesman said Monday that there is still no timetable for the decision.)

In the meantime, owner Lew Wolff repeatedly has said that the Coliseum is not a viable business option and wants a new venue in the South Bay.

Dolich thinks such threats might be backfiring at the ticket window. "Ownership's message has been: 'This is a cesspool and we're getting the hell out of here.' That's the message that's been permeating for five years? Six years?"

Upon his hiring earlier this month, manager Bob Melvin resurrected the message he heard from management during his playing days at Candlestick Park. He told players to consider their humble home an advantage.

"In my position, you play the cards you're dealt, and that's playing in this ballpark right now," he said.

Dolich suggested A's ownership embrace the Coliseum, which was essentially what the Haas family did upon buying the team in 1980. At the time, the A's home park was nicknamed the Mausoleum for its ghostly crowds, including a smattering of 306,763 for the entirety of 1979.

But by 1990, the A's drew 2.9 million -- second best in the majors. It helped that the team got better, too. The current A's risk a fifth consecutive season without a winning record.

"The Haas family didn't threaten. They didn't complain. They built a heck of an A's team, brought in a great manager, bonded with the community -- and looked what happened. It's not like it can't be done," Dolich said. "No, you're not playing in AT&T Park or Camden Yards, but why not just do what is the most important thing in pro sports: doing what it takes to win?"

Mike Veeck, famous for his wacky promotions, including a role in the infamous "Disco Demolition Night" at Comiskey Park in Chicago in 1979, said the A's could boost crowds by making their building the least important part of the equation. He said improving customer service, inside and outside the ballpark, go a long way.

"To steal a line from the Doobie Brothers, it's about taking it to the streets," said Veeck, part-owner of five minor league baseball teams. "You make 500 speeches. You make every possible community group. You arrange for players to stick around and sign autographs after the game. ... You do things like that, nobody mentions the building."

Still, Veeck couldn't resist one off-the-wall promotion. (He once arranged for pregnant women to get in free on Labor Day.) Told that the Marlins were on the schedule, Veeck said: "Oh, that's an obvious one. In honor of Jack McKeon, let everybody 80 or older get in free."

Leahey, who handles the A's promotions, said the team has gained momentum with a more practical approach: bargain tickets. Seats are available for as low as $2 every Wednesday as part of a promotion sponsored by BART. Fans can also get upper-deck seats for $12 every game, a ticket that comes with a $6 voucher for food or merchandise.

A's attendance is up 12 percent from last year.

"We're emphasizing value," he said. " We actually get a lot of feedback from people saying, 'I actually really liked coming to your park. It's about baseball here, and it doesn't hurt the pocketbook.'"

COME ON OUT

Here are the promotions the A's have planned for this homestand.
Tuesday vs. Florida: Free Parking Tuesday.
Wednesday vs. Florida: $2 Wednesday.*
Thursday vs. Florida: Root Beer Float Day and Free Hot Dog Thursday.
Friday vs. Arizona: Friday Family Pack.**
Saturday vs. Arizona: Fireworks Night (watch from field).
Sunday vs. Arizona: None.
July 4 vs. Seattle: Fourth of July Visor giveaway.
July 5 vs. Seattle: Free Parking Tuesday.
July 6 vs. Seattle: $2 Wednesday.
* $2 tickets in Plaza Level, Plaza Outfield and Plaza Reserved sections while supplies last.
** For every Friday home game, A's fans can get four Plaza Level tickets, four Coliseum hot dogs, four medium sodas, and four bags of peanuts for $50

TUESDAY'S GAME

A's (Gio Gonzalez 6-5) vs. Florida (Javier Vazquez 4-7), 7:05 p.m. CSNCA