The Los Angeles Times reports the Dodgers will continue sprucing up Chavez Ravine during this offseason. The team plans to finish building a new visitor’s clubhouse, expanding stadium entrances, adding two new concession stands and sprucing up the area with additional trees, all by Opening Day. Along with the beautiful big screens, new scoreboards and renovated bathrooms that have already been installed the venerable ballpark has undergone a significant Hollywood makeover over the past two years — not unlike the team on the field.
But frankly, like most Tinseltown transformations, the changes inside and around the ballpark have been mainly cosmetic. Until major problems are properly addressed Dodger Stadium will continue to lag behind other state-of-the-art facilities that offer a better fan experience.
So in what areas does Dodger Stadium remain lacking? Let’s circle back to one of the improvements being planned: concessions. When Carl’s Jr. is one of the most attractive dining options at your place you know your food sucks. Aside from your typical stadium fare (hot dogs, popcorn, nachos) Dodger Stadium has been severely lacking in the culinary department. When I visited San Francisco last summer I got a chance to visit AT&T Park, where the Giants’ scrumptious offerings include premium items such as brisket, sausages, crab, wine and chocolates.
Occasionally the Dodgers will sell a specialty item based on their opponent for the night, such as a Chicago-style hot dog when the Cubs are in town. Unfortunately at a busy game it can take multiple innings to get in an order. Considering Dodgers fans led the Majors in fan attendance last season both the quality and quantity of choices need to improve. While a Tommy Lasorda-inspired Italian restaurant as well as a barbecue stand would improve the concessions situation it’s very disappointing that a franchise with such a large and diverse fanbase doesn’t branch out with more thoughtful cuisine.
Perhaps it’s a positive there isn’t more to eat and drink at Dodger Stadium because the bathroom situation is deplorable. When the team initially renovated the mens’ restrooms it removed the urinal troughs and installed individual stalls. For sanitary and privacy reasons that was a wise move but as a consequence there is now much less real estate for guys to relieve themselves. As a result the queue to take a leak often balloons to over a hundred people during breaks between innings or after the game. Personally I prefer the old grimy bathrooms; at least you could get in and out to finish your business in a reasonable timer. It’s not enough that the bathrooms look nice… there has to more of them.
If somehow you managed to snag a decent bite and hit the head throughout the course of a ballgame… good luck escaping the concrete jungle that is the Dodger Stadium parking lot. Following every game a few dozen attendants fruitlessly attempt to usher thousands of people and cars squeezing through a few, poorly-lit corridors. It’s always a mess trying to get out of Chavez Ravine and I personally know someone who had his foot run after a game in all the disarray. Much like the congestion problems plaguing the city as a whole, Dodgers Stadium seems content on doing as little as possible to fix to traffic problem.
Last season I attended a dozen or so Dodgers games. They were fun for the most part. The team played very well, the giveaways were great and the place was packed even on weeknights. Despite that, I will probably go a lot less in 2014 because my and friend I decided the crappy food, bathroom queues and hours wasted in the parking lot just aren’t worth it. The Dodgers certainly won’t miss us; they were the most popular team in baseball last season and another pair of Angelenos will certainly come along and scoop up my seats. And that’s the real shame because the fans deserve a more enriched and safer environment.