Saturday, March 29, 2014

First Thoughts on Dodger Stadium Enhancements

The Dustettes and I were filled with anticipation to attend our first game at Dodger Stadium this year. Albeit an exhibition game, we wanted to use the opportunity to scout out all the new highly-touted stadium enhancements. I can report that our expectations were far exceeded.

The first thing we noticed was the brand spanking new asphalt in the parking lot. Bright new lines are now painted in a pattern that make far more logical sense than the old "system" did. In the parking area we were directed to after entering the Sunset gate, the lines run north south now, not east-west. (This is tedium that only people like the Sons and its readers pay attention to, I realize.) Moreover, there were plenty of overly-friendly parking attendants directing people to specific spots to maximize parking space.

Entering on the Loge Lounge area, I always stop off to grab a drink from my favorite bar lady at the Loge Lounge. Alas, she wasn't there! I was lost. I even asked the staff where she was and they didn't seem to know. I was bummed as it is a seasonal ritual to greet the same bar lady and chat with her. Nonetheless I grabbed a drink.

The first thing I wanted to try out, and one of the most eagerly-anticipated enhancements was a working WiFi system. Check! Sign-in was smooth, speed was great, and being on WiFi saved precious iPhone battery life as I tweeted out masterful insight to the masses. The only drawback - and this could easily be my iPhone 4S shitting the bed at the end of its life cycle - was that after a while, I would be kicked out of WiFi and would have to manually sign back in. It could also be a load balancing exercise in their system, which may not be the worst idea. Overall, solid experience that we've all been clamoring for. The real test of course will be when the system has to hold up to an Opening Day crowd all trying to get on WiFi.

One of the best feelings in the world is to sit down in one's own season ticket seats. As a season ticket virgin, the experience was even more meaningful. These are MY seats, dammit! I love my Loge Level section view and the seats are on the aisle of a short section so there won't be a lot of people walking in front of me all year.

One of the biggest question marks I had going into the night was how I would react to the new placement of retired number signs. They are now located on the rail along the Club Level above left field. They actually look nice there for the people who have the angle to see them, but I fear there are large chunks of sections that can't see them at all as they could when the signs were up under the Pavilion roofs. I get it...progress and all and of course there is now advertising where the old placement was. I guess I'll look at it as a down payment on Kershaw's contract.
Another thing I immediately noticed was the right field scoreboard, instead of having a Miller Lite of 76 or whatever ad in the round area atop the scoreboard, there is simply a Dodger "LA" logo. I don't know if that means they haven't sold an ad yet or if that's going to be the sign, but I hope they keep the LA. It looks majestic there.
Given that by the fourth inning or so we were down 4-0 and Zack Lee was smelling up the place, and that it was an exhibition game, and that we were massively hungry, we decided to go walkabout and explore other areas of the stadium. First off, finding the stairs leading down to the Field Level - and hence the new common area near LFP, was difficult. We went to where we assumed they would be near the leftmost bathrooms on the edge of the Loge Level, but didn't see anything. So went went to the central staircase we knew existed. The steward wouldn't let us walk down from there and pointed us back to where we had first tried. So we went back and after a moment noticed a set of unmarked doors that looked like our ticket downward. Sure enough, we were finally on our way. This part seems like a big duh, and of course once you know where the doors to the stairs are it will be easy, but there is absolutely no signage near there to indicate it's the way to the new zillion dollar stadium enhancement that they hope you will take advantage of. Minor, but come on folks, do a walk-through and notice the details (which they have in so many other ways).

The stairs dump you out right at the the new LFP bar area. God I loved typing that sentence. This was one of several moments when I got a little teary during the game. They absolutely knocked this part out of the park. The bullpen overlook is great; there are places to stand and look and there are other seats right over the bullpen. Options for everyone. There is a full bar with stools all around and some tables/seating nearby. The most beautiful part is that the Three Sisters as we reported have been returned to their rightful place, and are now actually part of the sidewalk in the area in a way that one can walk up and stroke each sister.



Moving from LFP to RFP area, we passed the new Think Blue BBQ. Can't wait to try it, but last night we were hellbent on trying out Tommy's new Italian-themed joint. Infrastructure-wise, all this area described above and the area as one moves from LFP to RFP area are now enclosed as part of the stadium itself, not open with old asphalt and concrete planters as in the past. Thus, one can (as the press release said) walk around the entirety of the stadium after having entered anywhere. This part just felt like a modern stadium (while of course still preserving what is right about a venerable old park).

The RFP area mirrors the LFP area in terms of setup (so easy heckling of the visiting pitchers). We grabbed some pizza slices at Tommy Lasorda's Trattoria and headed for the nearby tables to enjoy some cheesy goodness. Dying of thirst from our long walk around the back of the Yard, I sauntered to the adjacent bar to grab a beer. Lo and behold, my beer lady was there! This was another point at which I wept. Her eyes brightened as she recognized me and we exchanged warm greetings as I ordered a Goose Island IPA. Turns out they asked her to move to this back bar (key note: the bar is called Blue Heaven on Earth - another tear was shed when Mrs. Dusty in Law pointed that out) to help get it up and running but she'll be there all season. The great thing about this story line is that there were guys to my left and to my right who had the same experience, having missed her at the Loge Lounge and found her here. I think it really tickled her.
It was at the RFP area above the visitor's bullpen where we were sitting as the earthquake hit. Most everyone around us also being Angelenos, we just sort of looked around at each other and acknowledged what was happening (because it seemed to go on and on), then went back to watching the game. I can report that bar patrons did not even hesitate at all trying to get their orders in. LA is not as soft as the rest of the country would have you think.

By the way, there are nice flat screen TVs everywhere so keeping up with the game wherever you are is very easy. Far cry from the McCourt era tiny, analog, picture tube TVs hanging here and there in the concourses. Again, well done, Dodgers.

As the game moved toward a close, we decided to go back up to the Loge Level to do some shopping. Notably, the signage for finding the up staircase was well placed and clear.

The many team stores around the stadium feature a lot of new sweet gear that we felt we needed to indulge in. A new cap for the season for Mrs. Dusty and me, a hoodie for me, the new 2014 yearbook featuring Vin on the cover. Thankfully it was payday yesterday for us.
I was proud of the fact that 39,000 or so showed up for a meaningless exhibition game, and even prouder that at least half of them stayed to the end and into extra innings.

Exiting the parking lot was logical and orderly. We were directed by someone who actually knew what they were talking about and the newly-implemented traffic flow seemed to make a ton of sense to pipe people out of the parking area. Again, the true test will be a sold-out Opening Day, but all signs point to a much better system than in previous years.

Overall, it was a terrific stadium experience that I believe people will really enjoy and appreciate. There will always be glitches and refining needed and personal gripes, but the Dodgers should really be praised for doing so much in the offseason and putting so much money into it.

Drop us a comment in the next several days when you have had a chance to experience the new enhancements and let us know what your reaction was.

15 comments:

Hideo Nomo said...

Bravo, mang!

Ugh. Now I'm jonesing for a fix.

Dusty Baker said...

I'm your pusher.

Neeebs (The Original) said...

Nice write up DB. My favorite line, "Nonetheless I grabbed a drink."

Dusty Baker said...

Thanks, brother Neeebs. Also enjoyed typing out the "stroking each sister" part. Resisted the urge to employ simile using your mother's good name.

Alex Cora said...

Great post. Can't wait to see the improvements in person!

Dusty Baker said...

Looking forward to spooning with you at a game sometime soon, AC!

BJ Killeen said...

Sorry we missed you last night, Dusty. We also tried Lasorda's place, but I wasn't impressed with the pizza.

We did love the Lasorda bobblehead statue which looked nothing like him, but it was cool, as was the photo wall on the north side of the building. We also liked the giant replica world series rings...

Steve Sax said...

DB, this was an epic post. I felt like I was there myself!

Can't wait to see the secret staircases. Are there urinals there too?

And now that people can circumnavigate the whole Stadium, are there more staff members to regulate access to seats? Otherwise, it's gonna be mayhem

Dusty Baker said...

@Sax

Yes, I did note more steward presence, and in general they looked to be older and more mature instead of the more recent 18 year old shy girl profile, who was never very good at kicking cholos out of seats that weren't theirs.

Steve Sax said...

I hope no one on the club Level starts screwing with the retired numbers. That seems like a prank waiting to happen.

I mean, if I were sitting there and it was the Giants' stadium, I'd do just that.

Fred's Brim said...

Great report, DB!

Dusty Baker said...

Word, FB! Hope all is well.

Paul said...

Thanks for the scouting report D Brother! Can't wait to be there with #31 on Friday!

Dusty Baker said...

@Paul

Give a brother a shout before the game/ I'll be all up in dat bish.

#ineedmydelino said...

Your post made me
Hungry and wanting booze

Given. That's most moments of my day