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More Changes at Dodger Stadium

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The Los Angeles Times reports today, that Frank McCourt and company are planning more changes to Dodger Stadium. Before everyone gets in a tizzy about what's next, LAist would like to make two points perfectly clear about Dodger Stadium changes.1.) We can accept changes to Dodger Stadium, given the need for MLB teams to generate revenue in order to remain competitive.

2.) Any change that is made to Dodger Stadium must respect the tradition and integrity of the ballpark, as well as maintaining its status as one of baseball's best and most extreme pitcher's parks.

So with that in mind, most of the proposed McCourt changes this time around seem fine. LAist examines them one by one...

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1.) Valet Parking
This is a nice tool to increase revenue, but probably not too many people will bother. Parking is already an outrageously high $10. We don't know how much valet parking would cost, but probably significantly more. The people paying for it would be season ticket holders who already have access to the best and closest parking lots anyways. Do you really want to pay significantly more, for slightly less hassle? And is it even really less hassle?

Think about it. After a game ends, the valet guys will be deluged with requests, meaning some fans will have to wait an extraordinarily long time to get their car. I've been with groups that have done valet parking at the Hollywood Bowl, and it's taken between 20 and 30 minutes at times to get the car. Many of those people who opted for valet are now just choosing to park their own car and walk a few extra feet.

Still, we have no objections to the Dodger Stadium crew giving it a try. If anything, it might open up more spots for regular fans as the valet lots could use double parking. It's not like this dramatically affects the ballpark in a negative way. It can only make money. And Frank McCourt probably knows a lot about valet parking operations.
Verdict: Park ahead

2.) Patio Dining
If we understand the article correctly, patio dining means outdoor eating areas in the Loge and Reserved sections. We see how this could work in the Reserved section, where there is some open space, but we're not quite sure what outdoor space the Dodgers are talking about in the often cramped Loge section concessions.

Still, patio dining has its ups and downs. On the plus side, we wouldn't mind going to a Dodger game early, getting some Dodger Dogs, or even a high-quality BBQ sandwhich, and eating it on a more comfortable table with views of Downtown LA. But that might come at the expense of batting practice. And we certainly wouldn't miss parts of the game to eat at a patio, even if we did hear Vin Scully in the background. But this LAist writer is more than just a casual fan, and some kids who are bored by the game might drag their parents over to the patio.

This creates a problem whereby kids or casual fans are stunted in their baseball growth and their development of a baseball appreciation. It also reduces the number of fans in the stands during the game, thereby diminishing the team's homefield advantage.

That all said, most other parks do patio dining these days, and they manage to have die-hard baseball fans. If you can make money off of it, and still keep people interested in the game, we can't reasonably oppose it.
Verdict: Bring the fold out chairs and outdoor grill.

3.) Six New Suites
According to the article, all of the new suites will be on the club level. We have no idea where it will fit, but we don't go to the club level too often either. If six new suites means the Dodgers can sign a lefty reliever every year, so be it.
Verdict: Build away

4.) Expanded Concession and Restroom Facilities
It seems like we're doing a lot of building here, and we have no idea where this space is coming from. But if the space is there, then it's fine with us.
Verdict: We like more toilets

5.) Two New Stadium Clubs
This LAist writer used to go the Stadium Club once every year. It was always fun being forced to wear a jacket, watch the game from deep right field, and pay a high price for a nice meal.

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Later Dodger Stadium added its Dugout Club restaurant, which is also a great addition for those lucky enough to eat there.

So can Dodger Stadium really handle two more fancy eateries? People who can afford such places are already eating at the Stadium Club, Dugout Club, or in luxury suites. And many of them just want Dodger Dogs anyways.

If they're putting a new stadium club on the third base side of the club level, then how many suites are they taking away? Does this mean they're really adding six new suites? (see No. 3) Does this mean that the team offices in left field are moving elswhere?

And the other stadium club is being planned for the current location of the press box. The Times reports that the new press box would be moved to the reserved section. Where in the reserved section is there space for a pressbox? Does this mean that they will eliminate affordable seats behind homeplate that some Dodger fans who aren't millionaires have enjoyed for decades? And how much worse will the media view be given that it will be considerably higher?

The Dodgers can least afford to upset the media these days, and they should be careful with their handling of middle-income fans before they all don red caps with a halo and an "A".
Verdict: We'll reserve judgement until we see the exact plan, but we advise McCourt to think before he acts.

6.) New Sound System
It could use an improvement, but we'd like to hear more Nancy Bea Hefley and less top-40 pop. A new sound system should not be an excuse to blast Destiny's Child.
Verdict: As long as the organ plays every other inning, we'll be happy to hear it better. (Does this really enhance revenue?)

7.) New Escalators and Elevators
Dodger Stadium could definitely use more of both. I can handle the stairs and the parking lot hills, but not everyone finds it so easy. Having one common-use elevator is a little ridiculous. Has anyone ever seen the line for it? We're not 100% sure where the escalators are going, but there is nothing wrong with escalators.
Verdict: Hooray Accessibility!

8.) A Display Advertising Board Ringing the Front of the Reserved Level
We know many of you aren't thrilled with the Ad ring in front of the loge level. It's not an LAist favorite either. It can bother the eyes, and it's led to some obstructed views in the field level because it hangs too far down. Assuming that's fixed though, we can't say "no" to something that will generate revenue and won't compromise the park too much.

We all loved the days of O'Malley, and the days with zero ballpark ads. But baseball has changed. Even if the new owner didn't owe Bank of America nine figures, a $100 million annual payroll is difficult for anyone to sustain. They already have one ad ring. How bad could another one be?
Verdict: A grudging acceptance

9.) Replacement of Every Seat, Except Pavilion Seats
Of all the seats in Dodger Stadium, the Pavilion seats are the ones in greatest need of replacing. A little irony, perhaps, but that's what one gets for $6 these days.

Regardless, the rest of the seats could be replaced and updated too. They are looking old, and seem on the verge of falling apart.

That said, LAist implores Frank McCourt to keep the color scheme of the seats alive! Dodger fans identify their seats by color, not name. People have yellow seats, orange seats, blue seats, or red seats. Not field, loge, reserved, or top deck. More and more parks are moving toward single-color seating. That may work for other cities, but in LA, we like variety. The multi-color seating adds to the charm of Dodger Stadium. And we don't think any real Dodger fan could possibly disagree.
Verdict: Change the seats if you must, but keep the same colors. This is absolutely necessary.

Overall, LAist is thanful that McCourt has chosen to keep the Dodgers in Chavez Ravine, rather than leveling the area for condos and moving the team to a new stadium in Exposition Park. We understand that some traditions have to be sacrificed in order to make this happen. But some parts of Dodger Stadium are sacred, so Dodger ownership must be careful with how it proceeds.