Have a baseball road trip coming up? Well, in a bid to help you with your upcoming journeys, Big League Stew has solicited the help of the locals. Over the next month or so, we'll be hitting up our usual guest blogger crew to feature 10 tips for enjoying each of the 30 ballparks like the locals do. Have a suggestion in addition to the ones listed here? Make sure to list it in the comments below.
Welcome to L.A.! Naturally you'll want to catch a game at Dodger Stadium, the third-oldest stadium in the majors, host to eight World Series, site of a pitching legacy that spans from Koufax to Valenzuela to Kershaw, home of the Dodger Dog.
And this being L.A., you'll have to get there in a car. You might take the 10E to the 110N, or the 10W to the 101N to the 110N, or the 5 to the 110S. (Like a good outfielder, we take our routes very seriously.) And yes, there is a public transportation option.
Even from the NL West basement, the Dodgers lead the majors in attendance, so you'll have company.
Here's what to look out for:
1. Where to buy tickets. With a capacity of 56,000, Dodger Stadium is by far the largest stadium in the majors, meaning tickets are plentiful, especially on the secondary market. In many cases you can get through the door for less than $10. If you decide to score a stadium giveaway, don't get there too late — 50,000 per item means most, but not all, fans get a goodie.
2. Where to pre-game. If you have time for one meal before the game, try downtown mainstay Philippe's for a tasty French dip in an unpretentious environment. On the other side of the 110 you'll find hearty Mexican food at Alegria on Sunset — be sure to request their homemade hot sauce. If you don't feel like shelling out at least $10 per beer at the game, hit The Short Stop, the closest thing to an official Dodger bar we have.
3. Where to park. General parking is $10 at Dodger Stadium. Sound expensive? It was $15 before Magic Johnson bought the joint. Thanks, Magic! Preferred parking, at $30, will decrease your walk from the parking lot but won't help you avoid the inevitable post-game congestion. On the other hand, enterprising souls with sturdy walking shoes and time to spare can score free parking on the streets surrounding Dodger Stadium. Park near the police academy for extra peace of mind.
Parking lots open two hours before game time and gates open 90 minutes prior, which usually allows you to catch the opposing team's batting practice and marvel that MLB actually mandates special BP uniforms and caps. Note that tailgating is prohibited at Dodger Stadium, as are banners and signs. We're pretty sure beach balls also aren't allowed, but somehow they always seem to find their way in.
Make sure to leave plenty of time to get to the stadium or else you'll experience the first pitch like our friend Kevin Kaduk did a few weeks back ...
4. Where to sit and roam. Dodger Stadium has five levels separated into seven separate sections; in the main ring of seats, your ticket grants you access to higher tiers, but not lower ones (meaning autograph hounds should buy Field Level seats). The outfield bleachers are also separate, the right-field one known as the All-You-Can-Eat Pavilion. We were sure the AYCE section would be a terrible idea, but we underestimated the gluttony of the baseball-going public. You win, power-eaters!
If you're looking for a reasonably priced seat with a decent view, consider the Reserve MVP section. You'll be between home and first or third base, and the fourth-level view provides a perspective of the entire park without requiring an oxygen tank.
And if it's a day game, bring a hat and sunscreen. Not many seats at Dodger Stadium are in the shade for an entire day game. The third-base side gets the shade first; the low overhangs of the Loge and Club levels provide the most cover. Of course, you can also escape to the relative coolness of the concourses. Guggenheim Baseball Management spent $100 million renovating the stadium this off-season, and one of our favorite additions is one of the simplest: "drink rails" behind the last row of selected sections. They're great places to cool off and hang out, or meet a buddy also at the game.
Wherever you sit, be sure to bring a radio so you can listen to Vin Scully for the first three innings of the game.
5. What to drink. What does it say about the Sons of Steve Garvey that we put "what to drink" before "what to eat"? It says we love beer. But ballpark fun also means inflated ballpark prices. The good news is the selection of beers available at Dodger Stadium is getting larger (must...resist...Juan Uribe joke).
In addition to the usual ballpark brews (Bud, Coors) and bar standards (Dos Equis, Sam Adams, both at $11.50 for 24 ounces), craft beers have made their way into the lineup at Dodger Stadium. Local breweries Angel City, Fireman's Brew and Golden Road are represented, as well as more well-known favorites like Fat Tire. Prices start at $10 for 12 ounces of the specialty stuff; no word if stadium ATMs have started dispensing arms and legs.
6. What to eat. We've related the religious experience of eating a grilled Dodger Dog in this very space, but there are other adventurous gastronomical offerings. The stadium added the Extreme Loaded Dogs stand to the Loge Level last season (and the Reserve Level this season). Test the limits of your stomach lining with such offerings as the Frito Pie Dog, topped with chili, cheese, and Fritos; or the Big Kid Dog, slathered in mac and cheese and topped with Fritos (we're guessing you have to like Fritos).
This stand also offers dogs based on the visiting team's local fare, like a BBQ dog for the Cardinals and a Chicago-style dog for the Cubs and White Sox. Curiously, we did not see a dog topped with Anaheim chiles when the Angels were in town.
They don't publicize it, but the Dodgers are surprisingly cool about allowing you to bring your own food into Dodger Stadium. You can also bring water (one per person in "Unbroken, factory sealed plastic bottles of water of 1 liter or less," per the rules) and we've gotten in with bottles of Coke that fit the same guidelines. Be sure everything fits in a bag 16"x16"x8" or less, as that's the official size limit for bags, backpacks and purses.
7. Renovation features. Renowned stadium designer Janet Marie Smith headed the off-season stadium renovation and managed to make Dodger Stadium more family-friendly while playing up the team's history. Long concession lines at crowded games remain an issue but every other part of the stadium experience has been enhanced.
Even the bathrooms have been upgraded. Out are the old-fashioned and awkward urinal troughs; in is the latest in waterless technology, once a secret but now for all to enjoy (and ladies, they got you covered).
Closer to the field, the most noticeable upgrades are two high-definition screens, one behind each Pavilion. Cell reception, which used to vanish as the stadium filled up, and wi-fi, which was non-existent, are gradually being implemented this season. The Reserve Level now has kids' play areas, humongous bobbleheads and monuments to the Dodgers' retired numbers and Cy Young winners.
8. Historical features. Those tributes are a welcome addition, because the Dodgers have been relatively reticent about displaying their rich history in public. Dodger Stadium has no official Dodgers hall of fame, no pennants, no championship flags. Retired numbers are unobtrusively displayed above the outfield pavilions and team championships along the Club Level facade. We can vouch that there are some very cool historical displays around the stadium, but many are out of view for the average ticket holder. Which is why you might want to take...
9. The stadium tour. Fifteen bucks gets you access to the bowels of Dodger Stadium and the Vin Scully Press Box. This is where the Dodgers' history is apparent: You'll enter the Dodgers' dugout, then see tons of awards, including MVPs, Cy Youngs and Gold Gloves, as well as World Series trophies and even the dirt-encrusted home plate from Ebbets Field.
10. Tweet tweet tweet. Want to let the world know what you think of your Dodger Stadium experience, or hear from those who follow the team on a regular basis? Start with the Dodgers' official feed (@Dodgers) and that of their public relations department (@DodgersPR). For news, updates and analysis, we're fans of Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) and Dylan Hernandez (@dylanohernandez) of the LA Times, as well as True Blue LA's Eric Stephen (@truebluela), a font of Dodgers knowledge. If you enjoy sarcasm and snark, try the Ned Colletti parody account (@DodgerzGM) and, well, us (@sosgsosg). We kid because we care.
Read more of the Sons' Dodger-related thoughts at Sons of Steve Garvey
What are your favorite tips for a trip to Dodger Stadium?
Previous parks: Citi Field, Marlins Park, Great American Ball Park, Petco Park,Comerica Park, Progressive Park, AT&T Park, Rogers Centre, Wrigley Field, O.Co Coliseum, Yankee Stadium, Coors Field, Minute Maid Park, Fenway Park, PNC Park,U.S. Cellular Field, Safeco Field, Target Field, Rangers Ballpark, Camden Yards,Turner Field, Nationals Park, Kauffman Stadium, Tropicana Field