Chaos and Kanji is the blog where I write about my adventures through Japan!

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Friday, May 6, 2011

On Location: Chavez Ravine

Each card will present a stadium or other baseball landmark I've visited. This is card number three in the series...

Yes, Dodger Stadium. That's what I usually call it. I've been to this stadium twice - the first game was the 2006 playoff game in which the Mets eliminated the Dodgers in the NLDS. The second game was this in April, in which the Dodgers again lost to an NL East team (the Braves). I also took the tour last month, for an up-close look at one of the oldest MLB stadiums.

I have a love-hate relationship with this stadium. Let me tell you why. I actually took notes at this stadium, a first (and so far only) for me.

First, the good. I look back at my pictures of this stadium, and it is very attractive. The multiple levels seem to almost melt into each other in a perfectly-executed curve. The scoreboards rise majestically from the outfield stands and  the hills are a nice setting in the background with the Hollywood-inspired "THINK BLUE" sign sitting out in left field. There is a lot of history in this stadium, and it was the only stadium between the original Yankee Stadium and the Giants' AT&T Park to be financed 100% through private funds. Between the tour and moving around the stadium (at least, on the Loge level), I can honestly say every seat does seem to have a good view of the entire playing field. And I love the thought that I can park at the proper entrance (if I know better) and walk right into the ballpark at the level I'm seated - even at the very top of the stadium I can enter at "ground level". I've got to give the fans credit for showing up, too. On a random weekday game against the Braves, there was a fairly full house. Without checking attendance numbers, it seems like they were about 75% full overall, and the outfield pavilion looked completely full. There was a very large police presence, what with the Giants fan beating occurring within the past week or two.

Now, the bad. It's easy to find the negative in a situation, and I was on a roll. Most, if not all of these issues can be fixed without really spending a dime. I'm bullet-pointing these so I can try to remember to provide a solution for each one.
  • The first thing I noticed was that the parking lot doesn't open until two hours before the game starts. Even pedestrian fans can't walk to the gates until they're open. I'm not a tailgater, and I understand if they don't want tailgating, but in all my experiences at different stadiums across the country, this is a first for me. Due to other policies I'll get to in a minute, this doesn't matter so much, but it would be nice to get into the stadium and line up at the gate before they open. In fact, by keeping the lot closed, a line of cars backed up at the parking gate into the main streets. Open up the lot even ten minutes earlier and a large part of the problem is solved. 
  • LA is a driving city, but they're advertising the Dodger Express bus to get from Union Station to the game. Again, due to a certain other policy, this doesn't matter as much, but if you're going to provide special bus service, I think it should start running before/when the gates open for those who want to get to the park early. I took the bus to this game, and in order to arrive before the gates opened I took a regular bus. Not a problem, but it's a long, unsafe-feeling walk through the parking lot to get to the gates.  Start the shuttle earlier, and/or improve pedestrian access through the main pedestrian gate.
  • Speaking of gates and lining up, some of the fans (college age white women, mainly) waiting were quite obnoxious about opening the line. Not exactly something the Dodgers can fix, but it stood out to me - I felt like I was waiting in line with a group of spoiled preteens.
  • Which brings me to one of my biggest problems with this stadium. When I read about the stadium renovations I recall hearing about adding the ability to travel from one level to another within the stadium. That hasn't happened. I arrive at the park early to watch batting practice and maybe snag a ball. Yeah, you can't do that without outfield pavilion tickets. Do you want autographs? You better have a field level ticket. So unless you have one of those tickets, there's no reason to get to the field early. There's no reason for the express bus to arrive until an hour or less before game time. There's no reason to open the parking lot so fans can line up early to get a good spot for batting practice or autographs. Let me explore the stadium. Make it possible to walk around the entire stadium, like almost every single other major league ballpark out there.
  • After taking the tour, I understand the reasons for the seat colors. But unfortunately they look old and faded. I don't know if I would change this or not. I certainly wouldn't go with a rainbow, but you could do Dodger blue.
  • Speaking of Dodger blue - I hate that color. It looks good on the uniforms, but seeing it solid on t-shirts and other fan stuff, it just doesn't work for me. (Neither do orange shirts for Giants fans. Orange? Really?)
  • The Tommy Lasorda fan code of conduct is kind of offensive. It should be done seriously, without personal commentary. Especially given the recent happenings with the Giants (mentioned above), it should be read straight. I like that Tommy Lasorda is presenting it, but I can't take it seriously the way it is read now. I feel like he's basically saying that I'm a idiot and need some explanation about why it's bad to smoke in the stadium or shout obscenities at players. Or maybe from experience they've determined that Dodger fans need that kind of commentary. (They were obnoxious just waiting for the parking lot gate to open, after all.)
  • The Dodgers really seem to stretch the seventh inning stretch. God Bless America needs to be saved for Sunday games only. And then they did Take Me Out To The Ballgame twice? Just once through, thank you.
  • Speaking of announcements and music, I had a hard time hearing the speaker sometimes. They need to put speakers throughout the stadium or tweak the treble/bass. 
  • Last, through all the renovations, they still have sparse, disgusting bathrooms. For crying out loud, get that fixed.

I gather that Dodger fans hate the current owner and he's having problems. Maybe MLB will confiscate the team and find a new owner who will take care of the fans. It won't take much to make Dodger Stadium an awesome place to visit. The stadium itself is wonderful, and save for a few bad apples, they have an excellent fan base.

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