and here’s how to get out:
I’m so lucky that the people with whom I attended today’s game insisted on getting there almost two hours early. The traffic was apocalyptically bad. A relatively small crowd of us saw all this pomp and circumstance. Many more only heard explosions and flyovers from their cars. There were still plenty of empty seats as late as the fourth inning, and traumatized fans started heading for the exits in the seventh, in hopes of avoiding a worse ride home.
The McCourts should
b) completely ditch the new traffic scheme, which negates the institutional knowledge Dodger fans have developed from dealing with the quirky parking patterns at Chavez Ravine since 1962, without offering any improvement;
c) tell the parking lot attendants who were just standing around, watching this mess passively that, if they can’t think of what to do about it, at least pretend to care.
The owners’ dream of 4 million in attendance will not be achieved this season. In fact, I predict that even if this pretty good Dodger team reaches the playoffs, attendance will take a big step back, because no one will be willing to put up with this nightmare.
The Dodgers lost, 6-3, but the game was okay, the weather was great, and it was fun to see our new ace pitcher, Jason Schmidt, hit a home run. Bowing to advanced age and wisdom, I only drank cold water, but in that sun, it was good as beer. I had a good time, and am grateful I got to go.
But the day will be remembered as the day the McCourts’ incompetence, which is effectively obscured when the team plays well, finally became impossible to ignore. They are in a jam. There is no PR solution to it. They need to admit their grievous error, and fix it fast.
*Update, 4/10/07: A formerly regular Dodger Thoughts comment poster, Tommy Naccarato, articulates what I was trying to say, except more eloquently.
This is not just a bunch of sports fans whining about parking. This is a story out of social anthropology; what happens when outsiders try to fix something that only looked broken, and in doing so, changing what was once a challenging but live-giving experience into something confusing and oppressive:
You see Dodger Stadium used to be a sanctuary for me. I could escape my life and completely forget about the problems going on. I could think about roster moves; what pitcher should be in the bullpen warming up; Who should be pinch hitting and which mustard was best on my once affordable Dodger Dog. I thought of just how good I had it, right then at that very precise moment.
But that’s all changed now.
Today I experienced something at the Stadium I never fully felt before–I was being controlled from the very moment I entered up until 2 1/2 hours after the Game, when we finally got out of the newly named, “Sunset Lot” through a broken down fence–and fought the traffic out the Academy Gate, down to Stadium Way.
If we would have waited for the Sunset crowd to leave, it would have taken 3/4’s of a tank of gas waiting for it to clear and maybe at least 45 minutes more. Even one of the attendants chided with us of how ridiculous the new system was, knowing that the implementation of the old system would probably mean the end of his job there!
The system that was designed 45 years ago for Walter O’Malley’s dream ballpark had it’s quirks and turns, but knowledge of the ballpark; the ability to get out of the right gate the fastest way in relation to the size of the crowd–well you learned. I know I might be a bit resistant to change and that change is good, but honestly, and I say this knowing that your being released into traffic at rush hour–even at night, this is going to be a disaster, and frankly it’s not something I’m looking forward to for the rest of the year. At least not when you can stay at home, watch the game on T.V. and save money.
I guess it all amounts to this: What was so wrong with the old system? Even during sell outs, like last year’s season ending loss to the Mets, I was out of there quicker then I got in.
But most, it’s presents an even more alarming thought of what is left to come.
If you want to read the whole thing, it’s comment #157 to this post.