Wednesday, July 3, 2013

FIELDS OF DREAMS - Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, California

Picture courtesy of Wikimedia
Frederick Dennstedt under CC-BY-SA license

Los Angeles, and its neighbor to the south Anaheim, have the third and fourth oldest stadiums in baseball with Dodger Stadium opening in 1962 and Angel Stadium in 1965. They are two of the most wheelchair unfriendly stadiums in the major leagues. Angel Stadium will get its due, but today we’ll talk about Dodger Stadium, which sits at #16 on our list of stadiums.

Home to the Dodgers, who moved west in 1958 from Brooklyn, the stadium is visually striking…built into a natural bowl with views of the San Gabriel Mountains to the north, and downtown Los Angeles to the south. It is on top of a hill in Elysian Park, just above Chinatown and next to the police academy.

Here are the stats:

Opened: 1962
Surface: Santa Ana Bermuda Grass
Construction cost: $23 million
Capacity: 56,000
Field dimensions: Left field – 330 ft.; left center – 375 ft.; Center field – 400 ft.; right center – 375 ft.; Right field – 330 ft.
Home team: Los Angeles Angels (1962 – 1965), Los Angeles Dodgers (1962 – present)
Events attended: Too many Dodger games to count.

It may be old but it wears its age well, at least visually. Many partial rehabs have been done, most recently by former owner Frank McCourt adding premium seating behind home plate and around the dugouts. McCourt kept promising a $500 million rehab, but his divorce and his dispute with Major League Baseball kept that from happening.

The McCourts are just  bad memory now.  New ownership is in place via the Guggenheim Group that includes Stan Kasden and Magic Johnson. Paying way more than the team was valued...over $2 remains to see how their investment will pan out. The team is not doing real well in 2013.

Dodger Stadium is known for its harsh security measures. Beach balls are confiscated immediately and popped. You cannot wander around the stadium outside of the section you are sitting in. The riff-raff are zealously kept away from the beautiful people here. The stadium also has a reputation for violence in the stands and parking lot...a visiting paramedic from Palo Alto is permanently disabled due to a severe beating he took in the parking lot on opening day - and now has a $50 million lawsuit against the team for not providing enough security.

Ticket prices and concession prices had also steadily risen under the former management as have other snafus such as building high-priced baseline seats with poor views, a concession tent in the sun with no air conditioning, and paying a psychic six figures to beam good energy toward the team. 

One of the first thing the new owners did is lower the parking price, infamously raised to $15 under the McCourt regime. It is not $10.  The Dodgers now use tiered pricing for tickets. The four tiers have tickets ranging from $8 in the upper deck to $160 for a field box seat.

Wheelchair seating is adequate and fairly easy to buy. Mostly around the top of the field section. The team’s web site is woefully inadequate for information, only letting you know that wheelchair escorting ushers and handicapped parking is available.

There is no regular public transit to the games but a shuttle serves the stadium from Union Station in downtown. If you have a ticket it's free, otherwise it's $1.50 each way.  It’s a long walk uphill from the nearest regular bus stop on Sunset Boulevard.

Food prices are expensive but they do have some variety such as sushi, garlic fries, etc. Their signature item…the Dodger Dog…is awful. The only thing going for it is that the sausage is longer than the bun. (I will give the Dodgers one thing in this area, much as I don't like the food there, it is still miles ahead of the Angels whose food ranges from mediocre to inedible.)

Now that new management is in place, we've got to get back to the Ravine. Hopefully, we can add a current in-person report to this soon. Nice going, Dodgers...hope the future holds good things for you.

Copyright 2010 - Darryl Musick
Updated for 2013

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