What if Dodger Stadium Isn’t Ready by Opening Day?

So what if Dodger Stadium isn’t ready for opening day? Then what?

Stan Kasten expressed optimism that the renovations to Dodger Stadium will be completed in time for opening day. He also said that in the event that they are not, contingency plans are in place, but he wouldn’t announce what they were. So on twitter I read numerous responses from fans pretty much saying that will not be a problem because the Dodgers can play in the L.A. Coliseum.

To that I wag my finger in Dikembe Mutumbo fashion  “No, no, no… not so fast my friend,” because as cool as that Coliseum exhibition game was back in 2008, fact is, it didn’t work.

That wasn’t baseball, it was more like pinball. Balls bounced off the outfield wall and the left field line padding, fielded by Rafael Furcal, and he wasn’t even playing LF that day. A crazy game it was. Almost like the configuration of sandlot ball in my back yard. Maybe they should have played with a Wiffle Ball instead. The left field line on my softball field in the beer league I play in has a deeper left field, (yes, no joke). It was 201 feet from home plate!

In that 2008 game, the teams abandoned putting a player in the left field spot because he was breathing down the shortstop’s neck. Dodger center fielder Andruw Jones was so deep out there in the first inning that he was able to eat Dodger Dogs and chug beers sold by the vendors, and nobody even noticed, that’s because left fielder Delwyn Young was playing rover in front of him. The shortstop simply went out and retrieved balls hit to left field wall. Balls hit out there that didn’t go over the wall the umps were calling the “infield fly rule.” By the third inning, Jones must have got caught eating in the outfield, because Torre moved him in to the 5th infielder spot where he even logged a putout on the receiving end, tagging out a would be base stealer.

Here is the L.A. Memorial Coliseum in 1958...(AP Photo)

The L.A. Memorial Coliseum in 1958…
(AP Photo)

It looked like over the line, and they closed left field because there were obstructed seats in the way. The chain-linked fence in left didn’t work. Varitek lofted a 260 foot “shot” over the 60 foot high screen. The 2008 configuration was even worse than the 1958 one. Too many changes to the Coliseum have been made – there was no longer a running track. In the 2008 baseball configuration, the front row seats on the first base side were obscenely close to the playing field. And while some of the newer ballparks today are proud of that fact and will even advertise that front row seats are closer to home plate than the pitcher, in the ’08 Coliseum configuration, front row seats were closer to home plate than the on deck circle.

...and here is the L.A. Memorial Coliseum for the 50th anniversary game.(Photo credit - Ron Cervenka)

…and the L.A. Memorial Coliseum for the 50th anniversary game in 2008.
(Photo credit – Ron Cervenka)

Then there was parking, and the shuttle from Dodger Stadium that didn’t work. It was a disaster of massive proportions. A “cool” disaster, but a disaster nonetheless. We put up with it ‘cuz it was a nostalgic event more than a baseball game. Attendees could say they were present at the highest attended baseball game in history, (recorded to be 115, 300). That’s fine, fine for one game, fine for a game that didn’t count. Can you imagine if the Dodgers were to play 25-30 regular season games in that place? That nostalgia would wear off mighty quickly.

Heck, we didn’t trade for Carl Crawford to play “Rover.” Skip Schumaker may hit left handed slices every now and then, but he’s no “moon shot” artist. And last I checked, Wally was a bit up there in age to sign to a 30 day contract. Heck, I don’t think he could even coach our guys to loft fly balls 120 feet high and 260 feet deep. We didn’t shell out $150 million to Zack Greinke so that his ERA can soar over 9.00 in April. Perhaps the club should have signed Cirque du Soleil performers to acrobatically field balls hit to that left field wall.

Then there will be the festival seating crowd out in Center and Right Field. It can crank up the attendance numbers and allow people to picnic on the grass, but problems are bound to ensue there. Remember how homers used to be hit out at Candlestick Park years ago, and then the fans beyond the chain-linked outfield wall would beat the stuffing out of each other in an effort to retrieve the home run balls? Well, multiply that mayhem by about 1,000.

You think there are parking problems at Dodger Stadium, wait until you try parking at the Coliseum. Shuttles from DS? Yeah that worked swell. Fans arrived two hours early for the shuttles and didn’t arrive until the 5th inning in some cases.

Then there are the little issues that we as fans don’t think about. Press box? Way up top. Announcers? Same place. Locker rooms? Who knows? Bullpens? No idea. Portable dugouts? Probably, and with porta potties too. So many safety hazards in that quirky playing field.

It might be easier to build a new Gilmore Field in Hollywood or another Wrigley Field in South Central. Are there any high school fields with decent seating capacity available?

I know, they can play the games in Angel Stadium and call it “The Big D” and call our team the Anaheim Dodgers of Los Angeles.

Any better ideas out there?

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4 Responses to “What if Dodger Stadium Isn’t Ready by Opening Day?”

  1. Ron Cervenka says:

    It’s kind of interesting that you chose this topic, Evan. After the press conference, Kasten first met for one-on-ones with the TV media and then with the print media (we are always sloppy seconds, but I’m not complaining, mind you) and Dylan Hernandez and I were kind of pushing Stan a little to get him to show his contingency hand which, of course, he would not. Like most, Dylan pushed the Coliseum angle and I mentioned Rancho Cucamonga (in jest). The next day the Dodgers announced their plans for a split-squad game with the Quakes on March 28.

    Kasten (in true Kasten style) said “I’m not even going there because Dodger Stadium will be ready by Opening Day.”

    In my opinion, the Coliseum is not an option because it would be cost prohibitive to set it up as they did for the exhibition game in 2008 – especially only for one or two games, which is probably what the delay would be… if any.

    My guess is that the “contingency plan” is Angel Stadium because the Angels’ home opener isn’t until Tuesday, April 9 – although this would be a nightmare because where do you sit the season ticket holders? (not to mention the fact that an Angel Stadium sell out is (around) 45,000 and a Dodger Stadium sellout is 56,000).

    That being said, my money is on Kasten and Smith.

    * * * * * * * *

    By the way, I was among the 115,300 in attendance that day at the Coliseum (I have the T-shirt and hat to prove it – haha!) in addition to being among the average 79,000 at the Coliseum a few times between 1958-1961), and though it was quite a circus act, it was one of the greatest baseball experiences of my life. The game itself was fine – a bit strange, but fine. It was actually quite funny watching guys swinging out of their shoes trying to hit one out over the “Moon Shot” fence, which, of course, four guys did (two by the Red Sox and two by the Dodgers). The box score is actually quite entertaining.

    The massive crowd was (relatively) orderly and the pre-game ceremonies were among the best I have ever experienced. In fact, I remember after the game a reporter asked (then) Dodger pitcher Derek Lowe what the most impressive part of the event was, to which he answered “The wave,” which was the most incredible one I have ever seen. (I captured a portion of it on video using my cheapass digital camera – I’ll post it, if you’d like).

    I will agree with you that the traffic and parking was a nightmare. We arrived at Dodger Stadium WAY early (and parked or free) and took a shuttle bus (a full-size bus) to the Coliseum. Knowing that it would be an absolute mess after the game, we left in the 7th inning (right after Loney’s HR) and it was a good thing we did – we only had to wait about 20 minutes for a return shuttle bus, but shortly thereafter, the wait was upwards of two hours (after a loss, to boot).

    As I said, it truly was one of the greatest baseball experiences of my life, but as you said, I wouldn’t want to do it again for anything other than an exhibition game.

    As a side note, the turnstile attendance that day was 115,300, but the subsequent “Ya, I was there” attendance now stands at about three million. 😆

  2. MFGRREP says:

    Yep I was there too and I think I was just about the last group to board the bus back to Dodger stadium with my daughter, got to my car at 1AM in the morning and home at 2AM

  3. KSparkuhl says:

    2 AM??!!?? By all means, let’s make it a regular venue to start the season with.

    I wouldn’t give Arte Moreno the time of day. What a marketing ploy it would be to have them play a couple of real games at the Epicenter… if they needed to that is.


    “I know, they can play the games in Angel Stadium and call it “The Big D” and call our team the Anaheim Dodgers of Los Angeles.”
    Now that right there is funny!

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