Itinerant Fan

Dodger Stadium

If there’s a ranking out there for most romantic ballparks in Major League Baseball, Dodger Stadium has to be at or near the top of the list. Perched on the hills overlooking downtown Los Angeles yet nestled neatly into Chavez Ravine (a SoCal topography term that wouldn’t be well known outside the L.A. area if not for the ballpark), it offers fans more than just a chance to watch big-league ball. It’s a chance to get away from the hustle and bustle of a major metropolis without leaving the city limits, relax with a beer and a Dodger Dog and enjoy the national pastime, as well as a terrific view beyond the outfield bleachers.

Maybe I’m biased because I grew up in L.A., but for my money there’s no better setting in all of MLB than a game in the daytime at Dodger Stadium. (Note the caveat: In the daytime. Once the sun goes down you lose the terrific view of the mountains from beyond the outfield pavilions, and under artificial lights, the stadium actually shows it age. Under the sun, and with the brightly colored seats, you get a view that frankly is unique among ballparks.)

The scenery, though, is just one of the reasons why the park winds up on the must-visit lists of so many traveling sports fans. Though it’s more than 50 years old now, it’s been spiffed up a bit over the last few seasons and is becoming even more fan-friendly than it used to be.

Myself and L.A. transplant Big Red made a visit to the yard to see what it has to offer these days. The short answer: Plenty of nostalgia but lots of modern amenities, as well.

  •   The Approach

    If you’re attending a game at Dodger Stadium, as it is for just about anything you want to do in L.A., you’re probably driving. The stadium’s location in the hills, which provides that wonderful scenery, also presents a disadvantage in that there are a limited number of access roads, and as game time approaches (and after the game as well) they’re all crowded.

    The most direct route is via the adjacent 110 Freeway, which runs just east of the stadium and has a northbound exit clearly marked “Dodger Stadium” — just follow the route and it leads directly into the parking lot. If you’re coming from other directions, namely Interstate 5 that runs north of the stadium, look for Stadium Way, which wraps around the ballpark grounds and has ample signage to lead you inside. If you’re coming from the west, get yourself to Sunset Boulevard and follow it to Vin Scully Avenue (rebranded from Elysian Park Avenue in 2016 as a tribute to the Dodgers’ famed broadcaster), which will lead into the parking lot. You can find a map of parking lot entrances here.

    Speaking of parking, as of the 2016 season it cost $20 for general admission parking, but you can cut that in half by paying in advance for parking via this link. If you go this route, be sure to use the “Prepaid” lanes when you enter the lot.

    If you’ve read this and decided, “Gee, I’d rather not drive and park there,” first of all, we wouldn’t blame you. Second, there is an alternative: L.A.’s Metro runs a “Dodger Stadium Express” bus that runs from Union Station to the stadium via dedicated lanes on Sunset Boulevard. It’s fairly popular, especially if you’re trying to get to the stadium from points outside downtown (Union Station is an easy destination to reach via rail or bus) and typically runs smoothly before games, though the lines to board a bus afterward can get frustratingly long.

  •   The Build-Up

    Booking.com

    Well, if you’ve already paid the money to park, it’s too late to do anything else but go into the stadium. About the only thing you can do besides that is head to the top of the hill and take a few pics of downtown L.A. There have been rumblings that a retail-and-entertainment complex will be built behind the outfield pavilions, but that idea seems to be dormant if not entirely dead.

    Most Dodger fans know that if they intend to do something before the game, they do it somewhere else and plan it out before they leave. There are a few spots to choose from — downtown, Echo Park and Silver Lake (quite a few cool bars and eateries if you know where you’re going) and Little Tokyo are all nearby.

    Many fans are also known to make pit stops at Phillippe’s, which lays claim to having invented the French dip sandwich, on their way to a game (Phillippe’s, as well as the Chinatown district that it’s in, is within walking distance of the stadium — if you don’t mind walking mostly uphill).

    Really, L.A. is your oyster, but if you’ve never been to Dodger Stadium before, you do still want to reserve some time to get in and check out the scene.

  •   The Ambiance

    Dodger Stadium is different from most other stadiums and arenas in that you’re asked to find your appropriate level before you enter, as opposed to going in at any entrance you please and then taking an escalator to wherever you need to go.


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    That severely limits you in terms of taking in the scene — you can’t easily go from level to level unless you find the bank of escalators behind home plate, and even then there’s really no reason to do so. (Note: This has changed in recent years with the addition of “bullpen overlooks” — bars in left and right field that connect the field-level concourse with the outfield pavilions that have become popular hangouts for fans before and during games.) So it pretty much means you might as well figure out where your seats are and then consider your concessions options in the near vicinity, because walking farther away is generally fruitless.

    In the past I’ve always thought the food selection at Dodger Stadium was generally bland — Dodger dogs, of course, but also fast food-type stands, soft-serve ice cream and so on. But there are also stands labeled “LOADED Dodger Dogs” that offer several versions of Dodger dogs with toppings — the Frito Pie Dodger dog, for example, with chili, cheese and Fritos on top. (They also customize a dog for every series based on the cuisine of the opposing team’s city, which is something worth checking out as well.) 

    There’s no such thing as bad seats at Dodger Stadium (though the upper reaches of the reserved level and the top deck might be a little high for a lot of folks’ tastes), even despite a few subtle changes in configuration over the years. The loge level (the second level, or orange seats) provide the best balance in value vs. view — great views of the playing field and opportunities to catch foul balls, yet the seats aren’t as insanely expensive as field-level.

    That’s where Big Red and I sat for this game, looking right down the first-base line, and we had great views of everything, including the postgame fireworks. Alas, it wasn’t a happy night for the Dodgers, who lost to the Padres, but at least the traffic heading out wasn’t too bad.

The Particulars

Home Teams
Los Angeles Dodgers

Address
1000 Vin Scully Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90015

Year Opened
1962

Capacity
56,000

Upcoming Events
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Cirque du Soleil Luzia Montreal - Los Angeles
Saturday, December 16, 2017
4:30 pm
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Cirque du Soleil Luzia Montreal - Los Angeles
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Sunday, December 17, 2017
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Cirque du Soleil Luzia Montreal - Los Angeles
Sunday, December 17, 2017
5:00 pm
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Cirque du Soleil Luzia Montreal - Los Angeles
Tuesday, December 19, 2017
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