Visiting the wonderful Dodger Stadium is crazy

For one shining night it will be baseball national treasurea temple filled with history, beauty and stars.

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

For four unforgettable hours, national television audiences will be constantly reminded of how the league’s uniquely reconstructed monument sparkles with statues, exhibits and community.

But what happens when this buffet runs out of condiments and ketchup?

It’s really great that for the first time in 42 years, Dodger Stadium hosts the Baseball All-Star Game again.

But how are they going to prevent congestion?

While the rest of the country will no doubt watch the festivities on Tuesday with envious awe – unspoiled places towering above the parks Chavez Gorgethe San Gabriel Mountains looming in the distance – the locals know a harsher truth.

Dodger Stadium it’s definitely a great place to watch a baseball game, but a very difficult place to go to a baseball game.

Dodger Stadium makes you work. It makes you sweat. It brings you stress. It drives you crazy.

Once you’re there, in your seat, and watching the very best baseball product play a baseball game, it’s paradise. But everything else about it can be hell.

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

Like many fans over the years, Pomerance reached out to this columnist about a recent trip to Dodger Stadium that was the perfect storm of discomfort and disappointment. But while most of these fans tend to be reluctant to go into detail about the record because they think the team is playing too well to complain, Pomerance was willing to tell his story because he thinks some disparate things might be true.

You may love going to games but hate going to games. You can love the product but hate the delivery of the product. You may be a dedicated Dodgers fan, but admitting that every time you go to Dodgers Stadium, it gets harder.

“I love this team and everything they’ve done with the stage is great,” said Pomerance, 65, a lawyer from Tarzana. “But it’s very difficult to sit down in your seats, take a breath and relax.”

His saga took place on June 30, Thursday night, at the start of a four-game streak against San Diego Padres. It’s one of nine games he buys with the group, four tickets per game, loggia aisle 120, row B.

Arriving from Tarzana with his wife Polina, he decided to leave at 5:30 pm to start at 7:10 pm so they could outrun the crowd and wander through the various eateries in the refurbished back square. The plan worked perfectly when they pulled out of 5th Street onto Stadium Way at 6:10 p.m., just a short walk from the Wyn Scully Avenue entrance.

But as soon as they left the freeway, traffic was completely stopped and it took them an hour to pass what should have taken 10 minutes.

“Traffic was just stopped, everyone crowded together, despite the fact that lanes were wide open in the opposite direction,” Pomerans said. “It’s crazy that they can’t use cones and control traffic.”

As soon as they pulled into the parking lot—a slower and more laborious task for many, since all the passes were digital—Pomerance drove to Lot L, for which he bought a spot for $50.

But there was no place. There was no place. The parking lot was full and even the expensive parking pass couldn’t make room.

“I drove up to the duty officer and asked what should I do?” he remembered. “The clerk said they were sold out. How could they be sold? I had a pass!”

Finally, Pomerance pulled up to the railing and parked. It wasn’t space. Throughout the game, he was afraid that he would be towed. He didn’t have a choice.

“There was nowhere to park, so my $50 parking ticket was a complete rip-off,” he said.

And his evening was just beginning.

Dodgers fans walk through the stadium during the team's first game against the Cincinnati Reds in April.

Dodgers fans walk through the stadium during the team’s first game against the Cincinnati Reds in April.

(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

By the time he and his wife entered the stadium, they had already missed the first pitch. They hurried to their aisle, but before going to their seats, he excused himself and went to the bathroom.

Another test.

Pomerance got into a scene that too many Dodgers fans have experienced – a dirty and cluttered bathroom with no soap in the dispenser, no paper towels and used wet paper all over the floor.

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

He eventually found his seat and continued to sit back and enjoy the fun and exciting game. That is, until he left his seat again early in the third inning to buy a hot dog.

Third blow.

No, he did not have to stand in the usual long lines for concessions. Instead, he was annoyed by something seemingly much smaller but just as important, like the minute details that an analytics-driven baseball team takes into account on the field but seemingly forgets in the stands.

After Pomerance bought his hot dog, he couldn’t find a simple pack of seasoning and the dispenser was missing ketchup. They obviously were out of both. All that was left were the colorful, disordered remains. And it was only the third inning.

“The condiment stand looked like it had been bombed,” he said. “It was a small thing, but these things matter.”

After enjoying the Dodgers’ victory, Pomerance and his wife soon remembered the dangers of being a good fan and sticking around for the entire game. It took them 40 minutes to leave the parking lot.

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

By the time Pomerance got home, he felt like he had played nine innings.

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

This is a man who was 6 years old when he first saw Sandy Koufax’s field and then sent him newspaper clippings, which Koufax signed and returned. This is the man who wore Wes Parker’s No. 28 in the junior league, the man who hung out with high school buddies in the left pavilion, the man who was at Dodger Stadium during the 1981 and 2017 World Series, in 1988. National League Championship Series, for every great sporting memory of a life spent loving blue.

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

But he’s also the 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 been some kind of nuisance, some kind of parking or traffic or food disaster … or the perfect storm of them all.”

Pomerans said he complains to his daughter Alexandra, 33, but her reaction likely reflects that of many fans who buy nearly 4 million tickets a year for a team that has topped the league in attendance for eight straight years.

“She’s like, ‘Just like that, dad,'” he said. “People expect trouble because that’s all they knew.”

It’s just the way it is…

But is it really supposed to be like this? Shouldn’t Dodgers fans demand more for their blind loyalty? Shouldn’t the Dodgers work even harder to repay that loyalty?

When Dodgers officials were contacted for this column, they declined to comment, but their positions on all of these issues have often been expressed and are well known.

They say they can’t fix the ancient freeways surrounding Chavez Gorge and can do little about the parking lots that are accumulating due to limited access to those freeways. They also point out that increasing public transport is one of the few viable solutions, but due to COVID, fewer people use public transport.

In terms of stage attendants and concession workers, the Dodgers have long stated that they are not understaffed and that it just takes time to serve the needs of 53,000 fans. The union representing the stadium’s concessionaires has threatened to go on strike this week, and negotiations between the union and its employer, Levy Restaurants, continue.

“No matter what they say, you wonder how much they really care, because every summer they will fill this place with three and a half million people, no matter what they do,” Pomerance said. “You hand over tickets, and there are 10 people in line for your place.”

Despite this growing distrust, Pomerance emailed Dodgers detailing his bad night, and the Dodgers responded by apologizing for his disappointment and providing hotlines for him to call or text if he had trouble cleaning or cleaning.

“It was sweet, but I mean, I’m not going to waste time calling someone when I’m trying to dry my hands,” he said. “Not once in their response did they express concern that they would lose me as a ticket holder, and this worried me.”

It’s because they don’t worry. No, as long as the team wins, the fans roar and history happens.

Face to face. Ever since Guggenheim bought the team, Andrew Friedman saved the team, and eight consecutive Western Division wins have defined the team, most of you love the Dodgers more than you hate the stadium.

You will endure because you like it. You will come to terms with the loss of comfort for winning on the field. Dodger Stadium will make you work, but it’s a job you’ll gladly accept.

At the moment.

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

At some point.

Just keep winning, baby.