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Since the '90s I haven't been to many games for various reasons but I always have followed the Dodgers on the tube. When I did go to the games, either for work or entertainment during the '70s-'90s, I remember it as being a pleasant experience.
Evidently times have changed. Last night I was invited to go to the game with a group from the City of Commerce. I would like to express some of my thoughts about my experience and how I feel things have changed.
The first thing I noticed was that the prices of everything were extremely high. I can remember that the Dodgers used to boast about the fact that you could bring a family of four to the stadium for under $10, and you could. You could buy two adult tickets ($1.50 each) and two child tickets (75 cents each), parking for a buck and four Dodger dogs for a buck each.
Last night, on the reserve level, after being groped and told not to bring a water bottle in, I was greeted by someone trying to sell me a time share for a Lawrence Welk development in Escondido. By the way, the parking would have been $10 alone last night if I weren't on the bus ($35).
Food prices were horrendous! $9.75 for a piece of pizza? About the same for some kettle corn? I think those prices eliminate a family from attending very many games during the season.
We were sitting in right field seats that used to cost $2.50 and now were $20. The stadium is showing wear with the concrete cracked steps and black algae growing beneath your feet.
Each of those things were bad enough alone, worst was the way I was treated as a guest in the stadium. First and foremost I feel like I should feel like a guest. Even more so as I am a paying guest. Because of the following events I felt more like an inmate than a guest. First, I am just over 200 lbs and 6 feet 2 inches tall. The seats were made to accommodate someone much smaller. I felt like I was sitting in an elementary school chair. The two guys sitting on either side of me we about my size also, which made things even more uncomfortable (remember that a games lasts at least two hrs.) It kind of reminded me of a two hour flight.
Thinking that I would like to get up and stretch my legs for a while I decided to go to the bathroom. On the way up the steps I saw a friend and needed to be polite and say hello. Wanting not to block peoples' views I sat on the step and began to talk to him. Immediately an usher informed me of my error in judgment and told me that I must move.
When I reached the top of the landing a Dodger hit a homerun. As I turned take a picture with my phone another usher was there to tell me I must move.
I used the restroom and while returning thought that I would check my e-mails. So I walked over to an area where I thought I could do so without being interrupted or obtrusive to others. I walked further out towards right field where there were less people, and to my astonishment found out that I was somehow breaking another rule. I guess if no-one else is in a section, you can't be there either.
I started to question the security guard about the rule and immediately four other guards began walking towards us. Avoiding any further confrontation, I succumbed quietly and returned to my "cell" like any good inmate would. From that moment on I felt more like an inmate than a guest. I felt as though every time I would make a move I was being "eyeballed" by one or more of the many guards in the area. And yes, a guest that felt like I was being soaked for every last dime I had to spend.
If your intentions as a proprietor are riot prevention this behavior on the part of the guards makes you elated, I am sure. If you are a host you should be questioning your security techniques as to their appropriateness. As a guest I am pausing to reflect on whether I want to return to Dodger Stadium to experience more of the same treatment.
I can remember when Dodger Stadium and Disneyland were places that provided wholesome entertainment for the entire family, in a rich and inviting environment for all Angelenos. Sadly, Dodger Stadium is just a memory of one of those kinds of places.
I forgot to mention that after the firework show, my son gave his 2-year-old son a ride on his shoulders while leaving the stadium. Yes, you guessed it: a guard promptly told him that this behavior wasn't permitted.
Good luck to the new owners. In my humble opinion there is a lot of work to do if the goal is to return the stadium to the greatness it once enjoyed.
Dale Dollins is a Downey resident who worked in ticket sales for the Dodgers in the late '70s and early '80s.
Published: May 17, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 05