Vogt on A's 2017 momentum: 'The ball's rolling now'

Annual FanFest draws 15,000 to Jack London Square

Vogt on A's 2017 momentum: 'The ball's rolling now'

OAKLAND -- Just as the scene for Saturday's A's FanFest shifted, so has the attitude surrounding a club seeking renewed enthusiasm.

There's newfound energy exuding from A's players that seek to put the past away, following back-to-back last-place division finishes; and momentum, finally, for a new stadium. No timetable is in place for one, but there's work being done to better the organization's present and future.

New A's president Dave Kaval is leading the club's stadium efforts, telling a group of fans whilst mingling about Jack London Square on Saturday that the search has been narrowed to three or four sites in Oakland, including nearby Howard Terminal.

Kaval's enthusiasm has radiated through the organization and its fans -- roughly 15,0000 of which attended FanFest.

"It's been great," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "This offseason has been as good as I can remember since I've been here, in that Dave's come in and really raised the flag and talking about a new ballpark, and that's what our fans want to hear. I think it's the first time our fans are really expecting something to happen, and it will, and that's something to be excited about. He's focused on that particular thing, and that's getting a ballpark done."

"I think it sends a strong message to the fans that we are committed to Oakland, and that we're going to be in Oakland," ace Sonny Gray said. "Everyone is excited about it. We're not going anywhere. No one wants to leave."

Gray was among nearly 20 players in attendance for FanFest, sprawled across Jack London Square, as opposed to the customary Coliseum space. The A's treated fans to free admission, free food trucks and free entertainment that included Q&A with players, autograph sessions and photo opportunities.

Kaval, hired in November, has been upfront about his intentions of improving the current fan experience, and a new-look FanFest was seemingly a step in the right direction -- a different buzz, a better vibe, both apparent. It also ignited imagery of a potential new ballpark in the heart of Oakland. Kaval even had drones circulating FanFest to examine foot traffic for the potential Howard Terminal location.

"I think it's good for everybody to know that there's something around the corner to look forward to," Melvin said.

Melvin's A's could soon be the lone sports team left in the East Bay, with the Golden State Warriors breaking ground on a new facility in San Francisco and the Oakland Raiders possibly bolting for Las Vegas.

"At the end of the day," A's catcher Stephen Vogt said, "we are defined by our fan base. They are the most die-hard, incredibly loyal fans that are out there, and I think that opening ourselves up and being committed to the city of Oakland is something we're excited about, especially as someone who has been here and has seen talks of the stadium, then nothing, then talks of the stadium, then nothing. The ball's rolling now."

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.