02 May 2006

I Still Say: Tear It Down!

I just got back, with a miraculous lack of traffic for 3:30-4pm on a Tuesday, from an Angels game in Anaheim. Before I embark on making some comparisons between today's experience and going to a game at Dodger Stadium, I want to state my qualifications, as such, for commenting on these weighty matters. (The people who have lambasted me for my previous blog entry should know that I am no neophyte.)

I have attended ballgames in 19 different major league stadiums and a couple dozen minor league stadiums. I have been a Dodger fan since going to my first games, at the age of six, in 1958 - the year the Dodgers first played in Los Angeles. I average somewhere around 15 games a season, not just at Dodger Stadium, but in a variety of places. At Dodger Stadium I have sat in nearly every single section of the ballpark at one time or another. I usually sit in the reserve section, as close to directly behind homeplate as I can get - $20 seats.

Today, at the Angels game I sat in the view section - that stadium's equivalent of the reserve section at Dodger Stadium. The tickets were $24. I went with a friend who often goes to Dodger games with me. We both agreed that today's seats kicked butt over our usual seats at Dodger Stadium, for the reason that the stands at the Angels ballpark are much steeper. We felt a great deal closer to the action during today's game than we did when we went a couple of weeks ago and sat in the loge section ($50 per ticket) at Dodger Stadium. The upper stands at Dodger Stadium are just too far back from the playing field. It lacks any sense of intimacy - which is something that I appreciate when at a ballgame.

We also both commented on how we liked the non-symmetrical outfield, with different distances to and a couple of odd turns in the fences. That's just personal preference. I like quirky outfields. The rock jumble and ejaculating waterfall are pretty awful. Not to mention - now it's my turn to anger Angels fans - what's with the Rally Monkey? Doesn't anyone realize that when a monkey bares its teeth like that and jumps up and down it's a sign of fear and/or aggression?

One of my critics mentioned the view of the mountains from the stands at Dodger Stadium. Huh? I go to baseball games to watch baseball. I'm interested in the view of the playing field. Sure, the view of the freeway and ugly building from our seats today was hideous, but I didn't spend much time looking at it.

As for food, what we sampled at the Angels stadium was no better than what I've eaten at Dodger Stadium; which is to say it was pretty lousy. The only difference being that at the Angels stadium every single thing we ate and drank was about a dollar to a dollar-and-a-half cheaper. And there were more choices and more choices as to the size: both a $2.50 and a $4.00 bag of peanuts, for example, rather than Dodger Stadium's one giant, $5.00 bag.

Parking, at eight bucks, was two dollars cheaper than at Dodger Stadium. And, while it was not a hugely attended mid-week day game, I did get the distinct impression that even when it is crowded it is easier to get out of the parking lot than at Dodger Stadium.

In all, I preferred Angel Stadium to Dodger Stadium, at least with regard to seating and concession pricing. (I prefer National League games to American League games though.) Both stadiums are rather more sterile than I like. While Dodger Stadium may be representative of a distinct style and era of architecture, it's not a particularly distinguished style and era. Frankly, I think they're both pretty ugly. Perhaps Dodger Stadium is a little bit more attractive from outside the stadium or from the air or something. Both stadiums sit in the midst of a huge parking lot. I find it hard to believe that anyone is very fond of that site feature.

In my experience, the best, most fun stadiums are the ones that are within neighborhoods, rather than sitting out on their own divorced from any surrounding community. When I go with friends to ballgames in Boston, Chicago, New York (Yankee Stadium, not Shea), St. Louis, San Francisco, even Phoenix, part of the joy of the experience is after the game when we walk to some nearby bar or restaurant and sit around to talk about the game. At Dodger Stadium, and Angel Stadium for that matter, you can sit in your car for a long while trying not to get clobbered by someone in their car while you talk it over between close calls. Is there anyone out there reading this who actually prefers that? If there is: you're nuts!

Okay, so don't try to recreate Brooklyn at Chavez Ravine. I just meant that as a "for instance" in any event. Make it a Los Angeles-style neighborhood (whatever you decide that is), surrounding some sort of West Coast Moderne Architectural Gem of a ballpark. You could do worse than to base the design on the old semi-art deco Gilmore Stadium where the Hollywood Stars used to play. For those of you who for some strange reason would rather look at the mountain view than the ballgame, there's no reason why a new stadium can't be designed with that in mind.

Tearing down Dodger Stadium and re-developing Chavez Ravine is one of the best things that could happen to the Dodgers, Dodger fans and the city of Los Angeles.

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