Friday, May 29, 2009

Dodger Stadium Vs. Citi Field

Ending on Tuesday, I watched the Mets play 5 games live over a span of 8 days, and being that I live in Los Angeles, that is clearly the most games I have ever seen in such a short span. The first three games were last week at Dodger Stadium, and the last two were this week at Citi Field. Much is made about the differences between one set of fans and another, one city and another in sports, and going to all these games provided me with an interesting perspective.

Essentially what I learned is that many Dodger fans are the uneducated (in sports terms, not necessarily in scholastic terms), obnoxious thugs that I had thought they were, but also that the "I have the right to ruin anyone's night"-mindset that many of those Dodger fans carry with them does seem to be native to Chavez Ravine.

A comparison between the two ballpark experiences:

Dodger fans were able to start "the wave" with ease at all three games, usually making upwards of 10 trips around the stadium, only ending when an inning ended. Mets fans got a "wave" going one night, it made about one-and-a-half trips and fizzled out. My section tried for three innings to start a wave in the second game and it never got more than two or three sections away. Perhaps Mets fans are there to watch a ballgame?

At least 30 beach balls were passed through the stands at Dodger Stadium during the course of each game. There was not a single one at Citi Field in two games.

Generally fans around me seemed more knowledgeable about the intricacies of the game at Citi Field than at Dodger Stadium (less booing when a pitcher holds a runner on, more overheard talk about pinch-hitting and relief pitching strategy, instant recognition of plays (double play balls hit, whether a ball will be caught, etc.).

Attendance at Dodger Stadium: 37,136, 37,857, 50,761 (bobblehead night).
Attendance at Citi Field: 41,103, 39,376 (50 degrees and raining).
Remember that these figures are the tickets sold, not the fans attending. I would guess that that actual crowds at Dodger Stadium in each game were far lower, while those at Citi Field were about accurate. I even saw two men walking out of Dodger Stadium's parking lot 30 minutes before a game after having picked up their bobbleheads and leaving!

Dodger crowds arrived late and left early, starting in the seventh inning (despite that all three games were decided by a total of five runs). The photo above is of Citi Field approximately two hours before game-time on Monday. Mets crowds arrived very early, and generally did not leave early (despite that the two games were decided by a total of eight runs).

Concessions and restrooms at Dodger Stadium do not compare to those at Citi Field, but this is an unfair comparison given that the stadiums are over 50 years apart in age. What is interesting is that the $6.50 Nathan's foot long hot dog is far better and far bigger than the similarly priced super Dodgerdog. This may seem like a trivial point, but it is certainly not: one of the nights at Dodger Stadium, I sat in a suite and even in this high-priced section, the dog I got came out of a pool of hot water, not off of a grill. Sitting in the right field-upper deck at Citi Field, my hot dog was grilled. All of the Nathan's dogs are grilled, while Dodgerdogs are steamed at nearly every concession stand. Besides the number of choices being better in New York, the prices were about the same...astronomical.

Dodger fans pour out constant abuse at fans of other teams from the moment they step out of their cars in the parking lot to the moment they get back into the car after the game. While the rivalry is better between the Mets and Dodgers, and there were more Mets fans as targets in L.A., I did not see or hear a single National fan get heckled or abused during either game. And there were Nationals fans in crowd with jerseys, hats, etc. Not once. I sat in $100+ seats for all three Dodger games - constant abuse towards Mets fans. I sat in good seats one night and upper deck-out field seats the next - no abuse towards Nats fans.

The view of the mountains at Dodger Stadium is no comparison with the view of the salvage yard beyond Citi Field. But the sight lines inside the newer stadium are fantastic, the seats are wider, and actually all face the infield. Whereas if you sit down the baselines at Dodger Stadium, particularly in the new seats that were added in the last five years, your seats probably face the outfield and you have to look around the person next to you (not in front of you) to see a pitch.

Generally speaking, I did not feel like I needed to watch my wallet at Citi Field (till I got back on the subway, of course) but at Dodger Stadium, the crowd is definitely more full of a "bad element." I have found that security and ushers at both stadiums are very nice. In L.A. they show the "fan abuse" hot-line number constantly throughout the game. I was not aware of such a number in New York, but I didn't notice anyone needing such a number. Mets security, ushers, and vendors wore red, green, and fluorescent yellow shirts respectively, making them very easy to spot. Dodger workers generally wear Dodger colors.

Citi Field had far more team stores, each with a different theme (the everything store, the women's boutique, the vintage-style store, etc.). But this is also a function of it being a brand new stadium.

Citi Field is far more family friendly (advantage of being new). There is an arcade, batting cages, a miniature scale-version of the field to play on, a kids area DJ, a "spirit team" shooting t-shirts into the crowd, and a mascot. Dodger Stadium doesn't.

The Dodgers' jumbotron and scoreboard pale in comparison to their brand new counterparts in New York, but the other scoreboards and stat-boards around the stadium are comparable. In fact the Dodger Stadium out-of-town scoreboards are easier to read than those at Citi Field.

Citi Field features picnic benches, standing bar tables and plenty of standing room all in view of the field for people eating. It is also much easier to navigate - the concourses are much wider. There are no trough-style toilets in the mens' rooms and there are bathrooms everywhere. It has more interesting playing-field features (varying heights of the wall, seats overhanging the field, corners and funny angles of the of wall).

Dodger Stadium has terrible sound quality. There are no speakers around the stadium, only those gigantic, booming ones in center field. So if you sit near them, you can only hear bass and if you sit far away, the sound echoes and is delayed from the picture on the jumbotron. Citi Field has speakers spread around the stadium so the music, organ, anthem, and P.A. announcer are far easier to hear clearly.

Dodger Stadium's cheapest seats are still better than at most stadiums, but they are further from the field than at Citi Field, which is more upright, smaller, and upper decks overlap lower decks more. Dodger Stadium's capacity is larger by more than 12,000.

Parking at Citi Field is actually more expensive than at Dodger Stadium ($18 and $15). However the reason is that Citi Field does not have space for a full crowd to park there and the Mets encourage fans to take mass transit. In fact, the first section of the Mets website's parking page is all about how easy it is to take the subway from New York City, and take trains from Long Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, etc. There is a subway stop in the parking lot. The Dodgers have made public transportation to Dodger games nearly impossible and while they created a shuttle to Union Station last year, it apparently was a disaster and seemingly has been discontinued. There is no information on the Dodgers website about it and a google search only yielded broken official team site links and angry fan-blog entries. Citi Field parking lots open four hours before games and I saw nearly no trash in the lots (we spent a lot of time there looking for the Shea Stadium infield plaques). Dodger Stadium lots open two hours before games and are covered with trash and broken bottles.

I accept that I could not be any more biased than I am about this particular issue, but these five games only confirmed for me what a terrible experience it is to go to a ballgame at Dodger Stadium.

In unrelated news, the spellcheck for this site suggested "Cambodian" when it did not recognize "jumbotron." They do both end win an n.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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