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Dodger Stadium doesn't like me.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, Dodger Stadium parking fiascoes are old news now. I probably shouldn't even be bringing this up right now, but yesterday the spark re-ignited my Dodger Parking kindling and I'm back on the rampage. You see, I thought I'd come up with a good system, as one night last week I waited for less than 6 minutes to get out of the lot and I was very very proud of my ingenuity and ability to overcome adversity with creative problem solving (worthy of a college admissions essay, if you ask me). At yesterday's Sunday afternoon game against the Pirates, I decided to implement my plan. I arrived at the stadium an hour before game time, paid my $15 and headed up the hill to my lot, grinning at my little parking secret and laughing at the naive fans trudging up the hill next to me. "Free at last!" I thought. Well what do you know, the Walking Highlighters have decided to block my lot off with a bunch of PVC pipes and orange cones, even though it was less than 25% full. Instead they directed me to a lot which is much much farther from the exit, and then tell me to park here:
My one hope in having a plethora of parking attendants would be that this would prevent these overgrown vehicles from spilling their gas-guzzling guts into the next spot. But now not only are they doing the same, they are asking those of us with smaller cars to try to wedge ourselves in there to save some space. I know that Earl Scheib Paint and Body is a proud sponsor of the Los Angeles Dodgers, but come on.
*note: after I'd parked and started walking up to the park, they re-opened my lot and were waving people in.
This has been an ongoing frustration since Opening Day. I'd like to think that the fury would be ameliorated with a drop in parking prices (at least back to the good 'ol $10), but instead the madness continues and the prices remain ridiculous.
This was the traffic at the Sunset Gate TWO AND A HALF HOURS BEFORE GAME TIME on Opening Day. People were pissed, the LA Times (and LAist) printed several articles about how shitty the parking situation has become. And the Dodgers came up with this load of bullshit?
I love the Dodgers. But this made my (Dodger Blue) blood boil:
Johnston said the organization did receive negative e-mail about Opening Day, but very little regarding any parking problems for Tuesday and Wednesday's games. The e-mails showed there is a certain type of fan that is having a hard time with the new system.
"Many of our fans who have been coming here, some of them for 45 years, they like to drive in one gate, out the other gate, park in their favorite spot, all those things," Johnston said. "Those are the people that this has been a difficult change for. For the average person, not much has changed at all. They come into a gate, they are directed to a parking spot, and they walk into the stadium. [Then] they come out and get out."
So what you're telling me, Camille Johnston, Dodgers' senior vice president of communications, is that you would prefer to cater to Miss French Manicured Toenails who wears wedge sandals to the ballpark and has no idea what a double play is beyond that it sounds a little like something she did for Girls Gone Wild back in Cancun last spring and her date Mr Greek Letters with a ratty backward baseball cap that says Abercrombie (which division is that? AA?) in flip-flops with hairy foot tops who decide it would be "really cool" if they went on a date to the Dodger game and spend the first 35 minutes of their arrival talking about how long it's been since they've been to a ballgame and then leave in the 7th inning because it's "boring" instead of your long time 45 year dedicated fans? You would rather cater to the average occasional ballpark visitor rather than the die-hard Blue Thinking Dodger loving fans who believe in the religion of Vin Scully and pray in the church of Chavez Ravine?
This is your "new and improved" parking system on a typical weekday night. Note the hoards of cars here trying to log jam out the Downtown Gate. Also note the wide expanse of empty space leading to the Academy Gate.
Last season, these cars would have been able to veer left and exit out the back gate, thus cutting down on the crowd here. But with the new system we have sealed our fate upon entering, and lust as we might for a chance to speed down that path to freedom there is no chance in parking lot hell (why do you think brake lights are red?) that anyone will be allowed out an alternate route. Even if it made everyone's life a bit easier.
And while I'm addressing this monstrosity of a problem which is sucking hours out of my week, may I please bring up the fact that the earlier you get there, the farther from the entrance you have to park. See below, I got to the park at 5:30pm for a 7:10pm game.
The lots were entirely empty. I grinned with delight at the perfect parking spot right by the exit which I knew would be my path to freedom. And then the giant walking highlighters start waving their orange flags at me, coaxing me through rows of pylons until I am in the absolute furthest spot from the exit. Please, I begged them. Let me park over THERE! But no, there is no sympathy in highlighter-ville and I was exiled to a deep dark corner of parking lot hell, so that I may spend the next 4 hours grimacing in anticipation at the thought of trying to go home.
I've been going to Dodger games for a long time. Last year I attended 33 home games, and my parking has a system so fine tuned and perfect that once I set foot in my car it was guaranteed I would be speeding along the 110 freeway within 10 short minutes. It did not fail me. To me, this was my reward for being a dedicated and quick-thinking Dodger fan. Sure I had to pay $330 in parking last season, but hey, I got in and out without any trouble at all and I got to see my beloved team make it to the post-season.
Whatever "system" is being implemented here needs some dedicated reworking. Supposedly this new system is supposed to be safer and provide more guidance as we enter and exit the lot, but the Highlighters don't have any idea about what is really going on.
This woman was waving me along to come forward. Please note that if I were to go forward, I would hit all of these cones or the truck next to me. But she kept insisting. Also note that she is in my direct path. So I rolled down the window and said "if I drive forward, I will hit something." I motioned for her to move to the left a bit. She continued to brandish her flag and stood her ground until I began creeping along, my front bumper pointed right at her. The she started screaming at me that I almost hit her and probably calling me names though I'd rolled up the window at this point so the profanities were limited by my lip-reading skills. I feel like this is coercion and is a cause of undue emotional distress. For everyone.
Then there is the idea that the Highlighters will assist at the pedestrian walkways to help Dodger fans get inside the stadium safely. Another half-baked idea.
Here you see that the pedestrian walkway which the Living Breathing Pylon is waving us across is actually blocked off on the other side. Sure, we made it 90% of the way across the street safely, but that last 10% which involves 5 year old kids and elderly Dodgers fans in Brooklyn gear tripping over this line as Mr. Pylon starts waving the traffic along again. This causes utter panic in our entangled friends, resulting in even more emotional distress.
I have now tried entering at every gate possible.
The Golden State Gate:
The Academy Gate:
*note: I purposely parked at the Academy Gate in lot 6 because it is adjacent to the Union 76 Station in the stadium and I was very low on gas when I pulled in. However thanks to this new system, you are not allowed to drive in the direction of the gas station, regardless of where you are parked. There were 7 orange cones separating my car from its nutritious fuel and I could not get to it. I even got out of the car to try to move the cones, only to find they were chained down. My car's belly grumbled the entire way out of the lot which took over 40 minutes thanks to the bottleneck - 6 lanes turn into 1, which eventually leads you to the freeway, but not a gas station.
This current situation is a kick in the scrotum to those of us who love the Dodgers. I have tried to think of creative solutions to this problem:
1) Take the train to Union Station and take a taxi cab up to the park, then call another taxi cab to come pick me up when the game is over. Unfortunately, even the cabbies are stuck in traffic these days, and I'm sure they'd charge more than $15 to be put through this torture.
2) Purchase a pit bull or automatic assault rifle. Park in the $5 flat rate lots over in Chinatown and walk the mile or so up to the stadium. Tie the pit bull outside the park or check the weapon in at "Guest Services" during the game. Game is over, walk back down the hill with the pit bull and or gun next to me, fighting off my assailants as I will likely be mugged a total of 34 times on my walk from Stadium Way down to Broadway.
3) Move into that apartment that sits at the entrance of the 110 freeway with the boarded up windows and rusted barbed wire fence and the old toilet on the stoop. I would call for the next open house but the numbers on the door are disguised by so many tags and so much spray paint that this is rendered impossible.
4) Purchase a nice tent and live on the grounds of Dodger Stadium in the bushes where all of the drunk fans throw their Corona bottles and pee after the games because they know they're going to be stuck in the parking lot for 2 hours trying to leave and they are going to have to empty their bladders before that.
5) Start picking up transients downtown on the way to the stadium and pay them off to sit in my car so that I can park in the special "carpools of 4 or more only" lot which on its best day had about 60 vehicles in it and will likely be eliminated by next week.
6) Rent a van and begin my own shuttle service up into the stadium for $10 per person. We can do "park-and-rides" from Elysian Park and Skid Row, (with discounts for the homeless, shit, everyone should be able to go to a Dodger game).
Unfortunately for my patience and my sanity, I am a sucker for the Dodgers and will probably tolerate this for the rest of my life. And unfortunately for my wallet, my car was broken into when I parked on the streets outside of the stadium, so now I feel I have no choice but to park in the lot. In the end all I can say is, Let's Go Dodgers, and I hope you keep on winning this season to make all of the other stuff seem worth it.
All photos by me, the Cranky Malingering
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