With all of the traditional franchises still in their original cities, it is strange to think that Dodger Stadium is the third-oldest Major League Ballpark. California is a state of youth and renewal, not like the old and entrenched cities like New York, Philadelphia and Cleveland.
But only Fenway Park in Boston and Wrigley Field in Chicago are older than the stadium atop the hill in Chavez Ravine.
There is nothing wrong with the stadium itself. The sight lines are terrific, the seats are comfortable and the stadium remains untouched to the point where images of Sandy Koufax, Steve Garvey, Fernando Valenzuela and Kirk Gibson can be vivid in a fan's memory.
However, as the stadium turns 50 years old this year, problems of its location can be seen clearly. And the Dodgers might best be served downtown with the site of their old home ideal for football.
As a resident of Los Angeles County who lives a mere seven miles from Chavez Ravine, I can attest that going to Dodger games is not very convenient. The adage that Dodger fans arrive in the third inning and leave after seven makes much more sense to this author when going to the games.
The traffic and the tangling of the 110- and 5-freeways can cause heart-stopping congestion even for the most punctual fan. And the acres of parking could force a fan to be wandering up and down poorly lit hills and stairs while hearing the first two innings unfold.
And even in a low attended game, the process of driving out of the parking lot can involve sitting with the car in park for the better park of an hour. Even a diehard fan like yours truly has thought in the middle of a blowout game "I wonder if I leave now, I'd be able to get home at a reasonable hour." I did not leave. But I thought about it.
Plus many families do not go to Dodger games any more because of the drunken fights. Many fans of all ethnic backgrounds attend Dodger game seemingly to get drunk and pick fights with people wearing the wrong team's hat.
One of the most disturbing parts from the aftermath of Bryan Stowe's beating at the start of the 2011 season was how little surprise came from Dodger fans. The attitude in Los Angeles was outrage and sympathy for the family, but nobody seemed shocked. The attitude, especially from callers to 710 ESPN in Los Angeles, was a vicious beating in the parking lot was inevitable.
A downtown ballpark near the L.A. Live complex and the Staples Center could solve several problems for the Dodgers. The more centralized location could encourage more walk-up attendance. The restaurants and bars and other activities in the surrounding area would add an attraction to fans before and after a game, and help their businesses too.
Plus its proximity to the train system and public transportation could cut down on parking and traffic issues. Of course in Los Angeles, there is always going to be traffic. Between film shootings and premieres and grand openings and road repair, cars are diverted almost daily. But squeezing 40,000 into an exchange of the 5- and 110-freeways 81 times a year is a headache that would not be missed.
On game days, police can be in force similar to how they patrol the Staples Center during Lakers, Clippers and Kings games, cutting down on the drunken violence.
There is space available in the surrounding areas. It was the same location where AEG envisioned a football stadium. It is better suited for a 40,000-seat baseball stadium.
What spot is better suited for football? The present location of Dodger Stadium would be. The issues of traffic are not as accentuated on the weekend when fewer people are trying to get home from work.
The high hilltop venue has a spectacular vista of downtown Los Angeles. And the wide parking spaces are ideal for football parking and tailgating. As most football games are played in the day, there would be fewer instances of dangerous walks in the dark to a car. And because football games are played so infrequently, the LAPD could patrol the stadium in a more concentrated manner.
The NFL can not move a team to the Memorial Coliseum because, according to the Los Angeles Times, USC owns all rights to that field. The Rose Bowl does not fit the NFL's luxury box needs and a proposal to build a stadium in the City of Commerce is so remote they might as well move a team to the desert.
A stadium overlooking the heart of Los Angeles is what the image-conscious NFL needs.
According to the Los Angeles Times, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said "We've often said that that's an extraordinary stadium site up at Dodger Stadium."
He is right.
Even if the NFL does not move to Los Angeles and teams continue to use the threat of a Southern California move as a way to get cities to build them a stadium, building a football stadium in Chavez Ravine still makes sense.
A bowl game could come to Los Angeles. And it could also be a neutral site for a weekly college game. Imagine a matchup between big programs every week in Los Angeles, giving fans and students an excuse for a midseason trip to Hollywood. It would be a special occasion each week, be good for hotels and local businesses and make for good television as well.
Getting anything done in California is a arduous process worthy of Sisyphus. Building a single stadium in Los Angeles would be an amazing accomplishment, let alone two. But perhaps the potential income for local businesses, especially 81 home games in the heart of restaurants and bars in downtown L.A. would make it worthwhile.
Either way, there has been a lot of talk of building a stadium near L.A. Live. It is the ideal spot for a stadium, but all the discussion has been for a football stadium. They have been talking about the wrong sport.
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