Moving 115,300 people into a stadium is a task usually left to the National Guard and not a baseball team but on Saturday March 29th, Frank McCourt attempted to do it. Did it go smoothly? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.
The Dodgers advertised "park for free at Dodger Stadium" on their website and so me, being the tightwad that I am, drove from Phoenix to Chavez Ravine, bypassing the exits for downtown and the Coliseum. I drove up Sunset, took a right at the hotel, and entered through the gates. I was there early...4:00pm for a 7:10pm game. I was directed to Lot 1 which, at the time, was quickly filling up but was the only lot occupied.
To see a pdf layout of the Dodger Stadium parking lot, click here and follow along.
We parked, got out, and walked up the hill to Lot F. Before our eyes was a line, somewhere in the vicinity of 800-1000 people (although my wife states it was 10, 523 people)long that stretched from the norther-most end of Lot F all the way to the southern-most end of Lot F and then curled around and continued half-way back up towards the north end to where the buses were loading people. We took our place at the end of the line (near the Think Blue sign) and began our wait. About 10 minutes later, the line had curled again behind us and was headed back towards the southern end. One hour later, the line had swelled to four-parking-lot lengths! Also, at that time, we had reached the front of the line. We were ushered on to a small shuttle bus (about 20 people or so) that quickly sped out of Dodger Stadium.
Down to Sunset, right on Figueroa, merge on to Flower, pass the Staples Center, and then we hit Adams...which was also where everyone who had driven to the Coliseum was getting off. We crept down Flower until we hit Exposition where we took a right, turned around, and were dropped off right by the fighting dinosaurs of USC's Natural History Museum at 6pm.
The game was, in a word, amazing.
In about 100 words it was:
The pinnacle of baseball in Los Angeles since 1988. It was a way to remind fans of everything great that this team used to be and to make us feel like the elite fans that live in Boston and New York. Dodger fans had a home that was historic and meaningful and steeped in history. A place where gold metals, Lombardi Trophies, and World Series have been won. This where Jackie and The Duke once stood. A place where the Los Angeles Dodgers won as many championships as the Brooklyn Dodgers. This place was history.
And just like that, it was over.
Before the trip home could even begin, the search for the end of the Dodger Stadium bus line was required. Exiting the same way we came in, we headed towards the dinosaurs and found ourselves outnumbered by LA denizens more eager than us to get home. They snaked the line from the corner of Exhibition and Figueroa all the way back to Menlo and MLK. The line covered literally two city blocks and was nightmarish.
So we stood. We chatted with Boston fans and Dodger fans. We joked. We prognosticated. We discussed pitching match-ups, third base prospects, "Nomah!", and the NCAA tourney. We slowly lurched our way towards the buses until we had arrived back at those dinosaurs. Those stupid dinosaurs, how they mocked me. Their existence and subsequent demise led me to one conclusion...I was not going to wait in line any longer. We walked our way to the front of the line where we saw a free-for-all of people getting on buses. First-Come-First-Served was not the way of the world here, it was survival of the fittest. We pushed our way onto the last two seats of a small bus and were on our way.
On our way to the traffic of downtown LA on a Saturday night. I'm not entirely sure how long the trip took. The group behind me in line had placed bets on reaching the stadium at different times. 9:30, 10, 10:20 they guessed. Then one man suggested 11:15 and we all laughed. I was back in my car getting rained on at Dodger Stadium. I cranked the ignition and my radio responded with a green 11:15. I was not laughing.
The bright side of the evening was that traffic out of Dodger Stadium was, by far, the lightest it has ever been.
For photos of my trip and of the game, please visit my Picasa page.