A group of die-hard Oakland A’s fans organized a “reverse boycott” at Tuesday’s game to prove to the world that the team still has enough supporters to justify keeping the baseball team in town.

The idea was to fill the stadium with as many fans as possible for a random Tuesday night game — the day of the week that typically draws the smallest crowd. The stunt drew an announced attendance of 27,759, easily marking the largest crowd of the season to date.

“June 13th is the day we are voicing our frustrations with A’s ownership,” one of the organizers and A’s superfan Gabriel Hernandez said in a video posted on social media. “We are demanding for an owner who cares. We want to make our voices heard and pack out the Oakland Coliseum.”

Hernandez says the team’s abysmal attendance numbers are being used to bolster ownership’s case for moving the A’s to Las Vegas when, in fact, there are still plenty of people who would show up if the organization would field a competitive team and commit to staying in Oakland.

“We are demanding for an owner who cares. We want to make our voices heard and pack out the Oakland Coliseum.”

Gabriel Hernandez, reverse boycott organizer

“Even if we don’t reach our full goal of filling the stadium … you gotta remember that the A’s announced the Las Vegas move and everybody got deflated which, ultimately, people didn’t want anything to do with them,” Hernandez said.

The reverse boycott kicked off prior to the 6:40 p.m. first pitch against the visiting Tampa Bay Rays with a parking lot tailgate party featuring music, a taco truck, beer, cornhole games and other activities.

Fans picked up free T-shirts with the word “SELL” on the front and cheer cards to help the crowd coordinate its message throughout the game.

People were encouraged to chant “sell the team” at the top of each inning and “stay in Oakland” at the bottom of each inning. Also, fans stood in silence for the first at-bat of the fifth inning to honor the team’s 55-year residence in Oakland.

The energy in the stadium may have motivated the home team, as the A’s came from behind to notch a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.

Still courting Vegas

Meanwhile, the team has succeeded in convincing the Nevada Legislature to publicly finance a portion of a new $1.5 billion baseball stadium on the Las Vegas Strip.

On Wednesday, lawmakers there gave final approval to a $38o million public funding package as part of a special session convened on June 6 by Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo, who originally proposed the stadium financing package. The deal is pending Lombardo’s signature and must be approved by Major League Baseball.

An artist’s rendering shows the proposed A’s ballpark in Las Vegas — a 30,000-seat stadium that has yet to win support from the Nevada Legislature, which is being asked to contribute million in public funds to the project. (Major League Baseball/Oakland Athletics)

Last Friday, Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao penned a Wall St. Journal op-ed suggesting that A’s ownership should sell the team and petition Major League Baseball for an expansion franchise if they “are dead set on playing in Las Vegas.”

Thao also said that the proposed 30,000-seat ballpark would be the smallest in the league, would be built in the nation’s 40th-largest media market and would result in the A’s struggling to meet financial projections.

In April, Thao ceased negotiations with the A’s on plans to build a new waterfront ballpark at Howard Terminal after the team announced an agreement to purchase 49 acres of land for a new park in Las Vegas.

More recently, however, she has signaled her willingness to resume discussions to keep the team in Oakland.

There oughta be a law

Also, on Tuesday, U.S. Reps. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, and Mark DeSaulnier, D-Walnut Creek, announced new legislation — dubbed the Moneyball Act — that would require owners of MLB teams that want to leave their current cities to pay the state and local jurisdictions they move from.

“This legislation will ensure that no city and community is left behind when billionaires decide that lining their own pockets is more important than the community that supports them,” Lee said in a news release. “The Oakland Athletics have been an institution of the East Bay for over half a century. If the A’s ownership group decides to leave, Oakland should not be left empty handed.”

The bill would negate MLB’s century-old anti-trust exemption in such cases if the owners refuse to comply.

Lee has previously said that MLB is encouraging the A’s to leave for Las Vegas by waiving its relocation fee, which runs counter to the supposed purpose of the league’s anti-trust exemption — to help prevent teams from moving.

“I am proud to introduce this bill with Congresswoman Lee on behalf of the East Bay and communities across the country that stand to lose out as a result of corporate greed in sports,” DeSaulnier said.

Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan applauded the bill and said the city has worked hard to provide “substantial opportunities for the A’s.”

“I thank Representatives Lee and DeSaulnier for introducing this legislation that discourages the MLB from intervening to harm cities and communities,” Kaplan said.

Oakland A’s and MLB officials didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Kiley Russell writes primarily for Local News Matters on issues related to equity and the environment. A Bay Area native, he has lived most of his life in Oakland. He studied journalism at San Francisco State University, worked for the Associated Press and the former Contra Costa Times, among other outlets. He has covered everything from state legislatures, local governments, federal and state courts, crime, growth and development, political campaigns of various stripes, wildfires and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.