A's offering free game for fans in 2018

When the 2018 MLB schedule was released on Tuesday, Oakland Athletics fans got a pleasant surprise.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of their first game at Oakland Coliseum, the A's are not charging admission for their game against the Chicago White Sox on April 17.

Parking will also be free unless there is a concurrent event at the adjacent Oracle Arena.

"We were really just looking to do something special on the actual anniversary date, and it's really a gift to the community, a gift to our fan base to say thank you for 50 amazing years," A's chief operating officer Chris Giles said. "We're really excited. It'll be a fun day.

"We've some work to do to try to figure out how we're going to ensure that the folks who go online and reserve tickets actually show up, and we're not reserving a bunch of space for folks that don't show up, how we ensure that folks aren't selling the tickets. We've got some preliminary plans in those areas now and we're continuing to vet them before we roll it out."

It is the first instance in MLB history a team will offer free admission for a regular-season game.

Season-ticket holders will be given priority and guaranteed access with the other seats open to online registration in January.

There is another group that will be given priority seating. Anyone who can provide evidence they were at the A's first home game at the Coliseum on April 17, 1968 by showing a ticket stub, game program or photo will be included.

The A's open the season at home to the Los Angeles Angels on March 29 and will honour the 50 best players in team history the next night. 

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