Problems at Dodger Stadium Are a Lot Deeper Then One Beating
By Craig Sherwood
Executive Editor, BurbankNBeyond.com
Most of the time we talk only Burbank, but this time we are going ‘Beyond’, although it is a subject that most Burbank people will experience sometime this season, Dodger Stadium.
As a high school coach for the last 30 years, I have gone to my share of baseball games. In fact, baseball was on my mind even back in the 70’s after graduating from Burroughs. I took a full time job at Dodger Stadium working for Danny Goodman in the souvenir department. During the off season, we worked on restocking, and when the games came I sold souvenirs in the left field ‘yellow’ (bottom deck) section. It was not about making money, it was just being around the game and being able to meet the occasional player.
The O’Malley’s owned the Dodgers back then and everything was done with an amount of class. The people who worked there back then had mostly been there since the Dodgers moved from Brooklyn, and it was truly a family atmosphere.
In my year’s since, I have been lucky enough to have coached a couple of players who have made it to the major leagues. In past seasons, I have traveled to many ballparks (around 20) to watch them play and experience baseball from other perspectives. Whether it’s Baltimore, New York, Milwaukee, Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego, St. Louis, Arizona, or even Anaheim, it is always about the experience. The only city which left a foul taste in my mouth was Cincinnati, where rude was the rule of the day.
No matter how rude Cincinnati was, they were minor league compared to the atmosphere at Dodger Stadium. People seem surprised by the recent beating of an innocent Giants fan, but it is actually nothing more than a typical day at Chavez Ravine.
Go to other stadiums and you first spot tailgaters, when you walk in the door there always smile and say ‘Welcome’. Ushers walk with you to your seat with a smile and ask if they can help you. This is common at most stadiums and helps set a tone.
Go to Dodger Stadium where tailgating is illegal. You are then met at the door by security guards who have a chip on their shoulder and ‘order’ you to open bags and never say ‘thank you’ after they are done. The door people just scan your ticket without comment. If there is a give-a-way, someone just stands there looking bored, and gives away coupons to people.
Most ushers (there are still some friendly holdovers from the ‘old’ days that still work some of the high class areas behind the plate) never smile and act as though you are wasting their time. Never stand in front of that line at the top, they will always yell at you to stand back.
Basically what I am saying is that there is a ‘thug’ mentality at the stadium that has been in place for years. This recent event has only brought the problem to the front. When fans are treated confrontationally over and over, they become a product of their environment. This is not to excuse the behavior in any way, just to point out that it is not a surprise. Thugery breeds thugs.
It is no surprise that all of this has come to light under the Frank McCourt ownership. He has basterdized the stadium with advertising and made every effort to make money at any cost. He is nothing more then an owner who has a team he really does not care about because the one he wanted (Boston Red Sox) was not available.
He does not care about the stadium, the team, or especially the fans. It’s all about the money and the best way for him to live his lifestyle. One example of his greed is in the parking prices. He pays the City of Los Angeles $1 a year in rent. The $5 parking fee was fair, especially when you pay it out 81 times a year. The now $15 is a blatant rip-off of the everyday, hard working fan! 100% of the money goes to his pocket.
So what can be done?
Los Angeles fans, officials, and major league baseball need to force the McCourts out. There are owners out there who will come in and make it special to go to the stadium again.
You say that it can never change in Los Angeles – it already has.
The Los Angeles Angels allow tailgating. They don’t rip you off with parking, and the ushers are always friendly. The fans are not only treated with respect, but it is made to feel as though you are experiencing something special. Of course, they have an owner who has set that tone, in Arte Moreno. It is one of my favorite ballparks to visit – it’s just the traffic I can’t cure!
Dodger Stadium is still a great place to watch a game. But as long as Frank McCourt owns the team, I will be glad to sit at home and listen to one of the God’s of Baseball call the game, Vin Scully.