Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Dodgers Will Allow Poor to Visit Stadium, So Long As City Pays Bill

Sorry this post comes late, but I've been away this weekend and just realized the Dodgers will support reopening a Union Station to Dodger Stadium shuttle service, which pending city council approval might be running as soon as next month.

Now before you get all excited, let's make sure you know what you're getting into. First, according to City Council President Gil Garcetti, fans would be "expected" to "pay a nominal fee to ride the shuttle." Assuming that said nominal fee is below the current $15 hostage tax for parking at the stadium, I suppose that's a benefit to Dodger fans.

And guess who's funding the bill for this? Not the Dodgers. The City of Los Angeles!

Under the plan, the city will cover the estimated $70,000 cost of the program through surplus funds in the transportation department, with the Dodgers responsible for marketing.

So let me get this straight. Ridiculously high gas prices have given our transportation department aberrantly high surplus funds, amidst a city and state in economic shambles and budgetary ruin. And Frank McCourt comes along to pillage one of the few coffers of money that the city's got, in exchange for making Rick Monday remind us of the nominal-fee shuttle during the middle of the sixth inning? ("Friends, did you know that the Dodgers shuttle runs from Union Station...") Why aren't the Dodgers chipping in with a reasonable effort here?

Frank, you're getting $12 for a large beer at the stadium, and probably profiting $11.25. You can pitch in to bring in some extra people to the stadium, who are still going to buy tickets, concessions, and probably a souvenir or two. What you'll lose on parking costs, you'll gain back elsewhere--and at these gas prices, another deterrent to spending a night at the stadium now exists. The Dodgers might want to embrace public transportation before declining attendance embraces them.

The Dodgers are a major league team deserving of a legitimate and affordable public transportation solution. It's time they start acting like a big league team to their fans and their city. Especially when the team on the field isn't playing like one.

UPDATE: A faithful reader (thanks R.S.!) alerted me to a link with more insight into how the Dodgers don't feel like a shuttle service should be on their tab. Yay.