Team Killeen reports in from yesterday's FanFest. Words by BJ, pictures by Scott. Thanks, guys!
Dodgers FanFest 2014: Stan the Man had a Plan
Judging strictly by the debacle that was FanFest last year, we knew that this one-day pep rally had nowhere to go but up. After spending a few hours at Dodger stadium, we were more than pleased at how the Dodgers’ organization stepped up to the plate and hit a home run with this event. Yes, that’s a sadly overworn analogy, but in this case it applies.
Last year, Dodgers fans were packed into a tiny, gated area of the lower parking lot, fighting for personal space, autographs, and air. This year, someone got the message. The event was spread out over the top and second levels of the parking lot, specifically Lot B and Lot P. In addition, the Top Deck area was open, as was the Reserve Deck, allowing Dodgers fans to roam freely. The permanent kids’ play area was open, many concession stands were serving food (or what passes for food at the stadium), and even the area around the big stage was manageable.
Parking was free, and we waited only a few minutes in line for the security bag check before heading into the event. Lot P was set up with a large screen, jumbo inflated slide for kids, a bungee jump area, and other assorted kid-related booths for face painting, balloon art, and crafts. At the top of the park where the big Dodgers merchandise store is located, the line quickly formed for the purchase of single-game tickets. Before entering the event, attendants were handing out a general information brochure with a map and season schedules. If you were lucky enough, you got one with a silver sticker that allowed you the opportunity to purchase opening day tickets. Alas, we were not among the fortunate, but we did happen to get a photo of the Willy Wonka winning sticker. Overall, we were delighted to see an abundance of stadium ushers, security, and Andy Gumps, although all of the regular restrooms inside the stadium were open.
One area that was way more organized was the autograph area. For those who don’t own a computer or think that they don’t need to plan ahead, trying to get an autograph was a lesson in futility. Only those who went online and purchased a ticket to get a specific autograph were able to stand in line. They did have a few slots open that could be purchased at the stadium, but most of the good ones were sold out. While this purchase-ahead strategy did limit the amount of people who wanted a name scribbled on a ball, it also stopped the resellers from monopolizing the players’ time and getting aggressive with real fans. On our way out of the event, we saw one guy with a wagon full of unsigned minibats, shirts, and other memorabilia who, obviously, didn’t get the message. He didn’t think this was a good event, but the rest of us did.
Lot B was where all the action was, with the big stage for interviews, pitching games, more food, giveaways and — for SoSG Dusty — the ever-important beer garden. Other booths were for Camelback Ranch, sponsors handing out free food and sodas, and more ticket hawking. The Killeens managed to snag a few State Farm-sponsored FanFest towels, but spent their time more toward the observation rather than the participation side.
What else did we learn today? Some new ways to cater to the elite included purchasing a $300 Stadium Club membership for season ticket holders. Memberships also are available to mini-plan holders for either five bucks a seat or per game. And because people in LA would rather spend eternity in Hell rather than walk a few more feet, those who have season tickets can purchase a designated parking space with your name on it. For more information, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We did our best to tell everyone within earshot that this event compared to last year was equivalent to the difference between listening to Justin Bieber and Led Zeppelin. Quality is everything.
All in all, our first Dodger dog of the season ($7, still not cooked), sitting at the yard in the sunshine, and watching Charlie Steiner interview the new lineup without Steve Lyons made for an extremely pleasant Saturday afternoon. Next up, spring training.