Visiting marvelous Dodger Stadium is a maddening experience

For a bright night, it will be baseball’s national treasure, a temple of history, beauty and stars.

But what are they going to do with that dirty bathroom floor?

For four memorable hours, a national television audience will be constantly reminded as the league’s most unique remodeled monument sparkles with statues, exhibits and community.

But what happens when that concession stand runs out of relish and ketchup?

It’s really cool that Dodger Stadium is hosting baseball’s all-star game for the first time in 42 years.

But how on earth are they going to prevent the gridlock?

While the rest of the country is sure to eye Tuesday’s celebrations with envious awe — the pristine seats rising from the parklands of Chavez Ravine, the San Gabriel Mountains looming in the distance — locals know a harder truth.

Dodger Stadium is a wonderful place to see a baseball game, but an extremely difficult place to attend a baseball game.

Dodger Stadium puts you to work. It makes you sweat. It brings you stress. It drives you insane

Once you sit in your seat and watch baseball’s consistently greatest product at a baseball game, it’s heaven. But everything else about it can be hell.

“It used to be such a joy to go to the stadium, now it’s just an effort, it’s almost a drudgery,” said Drew Pomerance, a partial season ticket holder who said he has attended at least one game every year since 1963 visited Dodger Stadium. “The pitches are great, the game is great, but the fan experience is a little league.”

Like many fans over the years, Pomerance reached out to this columnist about a recent visit to Dodger Stadium that turned into a perfect storm of uneasiness and disappointment. But while most of these fans are generally reluctant to address the record because they feel the team is playing too well to complain, Pomerance was willing to share his story because he believes several different things can be true.

You may love going to the games but hate going to the games. You can love the product but hate the delivery of the product. You may be a die-hard Dodgers fan, but admit it gets a little harder every time you visit Dodger Stadium.

“I love this team and all the things they’ve done with the stadium are amazing,” said Pomerance, 65, a Tarzana attorney. “But it’s really tedious to sit down in the seats, catch your breath and relax.”

His saga happened on June 30, a Thursday night, the start of a four-game series against the San Diego Padres. It’s one of nine games he buys with a group, four tickets per game, Loge Gang 120, Row B.

Driving in from Tarzana with his wife Pauline, he decided to leave at 5:30pm for the 7:10pm start so they can beat the crowds and stroll through the various restaurants on the renovated outdoor court. The plan worked great as they exited 5 on Stadium Way at 6:10 p.m., a short walk from the entrance on Vin Scully Avenue.

But as they exited the freeway, traffic came to a standstill, and it took them an hour to drive, which was supposed to take 10 minutes.

“Traffic just stopped, everyone huddled together even though there were wide-open lanes going the other direction,” Pomerance said. “It’s crazy that they can’t use cones and fix traffic flow.”

As soon as they entered the parking lot — a slower and more arduous exercise for many since all passports went digital — Pomerance drove to Lot L, for which he had purchased a $50 spot.

But there was no stain. There was no space. The parking lot was full and even an expensive parking pass couldn’t make room.

“I drove to the guard and asked what should I do?” he remembered. “The seller said they were sold out. How could they be sold out? I had a passport!”

Pomerance finally stopped in front of a crash barrier and parked. It wasn’t a space. He spent the whole game worrying about being towed. He had no choice.

“There was no parking, so my $50 parking pass was a complete rip-off,” he said.

And his evening was just beginning.

By the time he and his wife entered the stadium, they had already missed first place. They rushed to their aisle, but before he went down to their seats, he excused himself to go to the bathroom.

Another ordeal.

Pomerance entered a scene that too many Dodgers fans experience — a dirty and filthy bathroom with no soap in the dispenser, no paper towels, and wet paper all over the floor.

“The bathroom was already trashed, and it was only the first inning,” he said. “I can’t imagine what it looked like later.”

He eventually found his seat and continued to sit back and enjoy an immersive and entertaining game. That is, until he left his seat at the top of the third inning to buy a hot dog.

beat three

No, he didn’t have to endure the usual long lines of concessions. Instead, he was upset about something that seemed much smaller but just as important, the kind of minute details that the analysis-driven baseball team incorporates on the field but seems to have forgotten in the stands.

After Pomerance bought his hot dog, he couldn’t find a plain packet of relish and there was no ketchup in the dispenser. They were apparently out of both. All that remained were the colorful, untidy remains. And it was only the third inning.

“The spice stand looked like someone dropped a bomb on it,” he said. “It was a small thing, but these things are important.”

After enjoying a Dodgers win, Pomerance and his wife were soon reminded of the dangers of being a good fan and staying the whole game. It took them 40 minutes to exit the parking lot.

“People are walking all over the place, between cars, in front of cars, totally disorganized, chaotic, no flow,” he said. “They could fix it if they put in sidewalks. I just don’t understand why they don’t fix it.”

By the time Pomerance returned home, he felt like he’d played nine innings.

“I was exhausted, I was frustrated, and I said to my wife, ‘I don’t think it’s worth it anymore,'” he said.

This is a man who was 6 years old when he first saw Sandy Koufax Pitch and later sent him newspaper clippings which Koufax signed and sent back. This is a man who wore Wes Parker’s number 28 in the juvenile league, a man who used to hang out with high school buddies in the pavilion at left field, a man who was at Dodger Stadium for the 1981 World Series and 2017 National League Championship Series, for every great sporting memory of a life loving blue.

“I’m a die-hard Lakers fan, a huge Rams fan, but there’s something about the Dodgers that has a historical connection to the community, something iconic that gets me emotional,” he said.

But he’s also a man who now pays $118 a seat for tickets, parking and access to the Stadium Club. And for the first time he wonders if it’s worth it.

“I haven’t made a decision for next year yet,” Pomerance said. “Every game for me this year has had some kind of trouble, some kind of parking lot, traffic, or food disaster…or the perfect storm of all.”

Pomerance said he’s complaining to his daughter Alexandra, 33, but her response likely mirrors that of many fans who buy nearly 4 million tickets a year for a team that has led the league for eight consecutive years.

“She’s like, ‘That’s the way it is, Dad,'” he said. “People expect trouble because it’s all they know.”

That’s just how it is…

But does it really have to be like this? Shouldn’t Dodgers fans charge more for their blind allegiance? Shouldn’t the Dodgers work even harder to repay that loyalty?

When contacted for this column, Dodgers officials declined to comment, but their stance on all of these issues has been widely voiced and is well known.

They say they can’t fix the old freeways that surround Chavez Ravine, and they can only start with limited parking lots that are piling up because of restricted access to those freeways. They also note that expanding public transport is one of the only real solutions, but fewer people are taking public transport due to COVID.

As for the stadium’s maintenance and concessions workers, the Dodgers have long maintained that they are not understaffed and that it simply takes time to accommodate the needs of 53,000 fans. The union representing stadium concession workers threatened a strike this week and talks are ongoing between the union and their employer, Levy Restaurants.

“No matter what they say, it makes you wonder how much they really care because they’re going to fill the place with three and a half million people every summer no matter what they do,” Pomerance said. “You give up your tickets, there are 10 people in line to take your seat.”

Despite this increasing lack of confidence, Pomerance emailed the Dodgers describing his bad night, and the Dodgers responded, apologizing for his disappointment and providing him with hotlines by phone or text message if he had problems with the concession or the cleanliness of the toilets.

“That was nice, but I mean I won’t take the time to call anyone when I’m trying to dry my hands,” he said. “Not once in their reply did they express their concern about losing me as a ticket holder and that bothered me.”

That’s because they don’t worry. Not as long as the team is winning and the fans are raving and history is happening.

face it. Ever since Guggenheim bought the team, Andrew Friedman saved the team, and eight straight West Division championships defined the team, most of you love the Dodgers more than you hate the stadium experience.

You will endure because you enjoy it. You will sacrifice comfort for victory on the field. Dodger Stadium will make you work, but it’s a job you’ll be happy to take on.

For now.

“You have to keep in mind that at some point people will throw their hands up and say it’s easier to sit at home and watch TV, they’re still just as awesome,” Pomerance said.


Just keep winning baby Visiting marvelous Dodger Stadium is a maddening experience

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