Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I've Got Your Parking Spot Right Here

"Phillies suck!"

That's what the Dodger cap-clad 10-year-old boy said to me as he approached the bus stop. "Not tonight, kid", I replied. I was on the way home from the Phillies' 7-2 victory at Dodger Stadium, and amazingly enough, I was taking the bus.

Dodger Stadium is one of the few sports stadiums in the country not served properly by public transportation. It's surrounded on all sides by acres of asphalt parking lots, and the nearest actual street is hundreds of yards away. I'm sure that seemed like a great idea in car-culture mad Los Angeles when the stadium opened in 1962. It's considerably less of a good idea in today's traffic-choked metropolis.

The place is an absolute nightmare to get in and out of. I went to a game last month where it took me an hour just to snake the last few hundred yards into the lot and park. It took the same amount of time to make my escape from the grounds after the game. That day I met a couple who got down while gridlocked on the way in and had the baby in the traffic jam on the way out. True story. Aside from the hazards of boredom-induced childbirth, the Dodgers collect $15 for the privilege of sitting in your car and fouling the air with $5 worth of gas. And that $15, dear reader, is at the root of why there is no public transportation to Dodger Stadium.

During the 2008 season, the LA Department of Transportation introduced the Dodger Trolley, a free shuttle that transported fans the two miles from the nearest subway stop to the stadium. It was wildly popular and deemed a unqualified success. After the 2008 season, however, the LADOT announced that the Dodger Trolley would be no more. The $600,000 cost per season was not in the budget. Cries arose that the Dodgers themselves should foot the bill, since the Trolley served only them and their fans, not the general public. The team countered that they are "not in the business of public transportation", and that since the Trolley used public streets, it was the responsibility of the LADOT. Consequently, with no one to pay for it, the Dodger Trolley ceased operations after one season. It would seem to be in the Dodgers' best interest to fund the shuttle for the paltry sum of $600,000 (or 1/42 the annual salary of suspended steroid user Manny Ramirez.) After all, it would likely result in higher attendance. But the Dodgers actually don't want to make it easier for you to get to the game.

Frank McCourt purchased the Dodgers in 2004 from News Corporation for the sum of $430 million. McCourt made his fortune in real estate, and the bulk of his profits were made from a chain of parking lots he owned in Boston. If anyone understands the kind of money to be made from parking, it's McCourt. It's no surprise he raised the parking fee from $10 to $15. It's also no surprise the team held on to a stiff named Chan Ho Park for so long. Dodger Stadium has 16,000 parking spaces at $15 each. That's $240,000 a game in potential parking revenue, or nearly $20 million over the course of a season. No wonder the Dodgers don't care about making their stadium more accessible. Making you sit in gridlock for two hours is very, very profitable.

I was tired of playing this game. I researched the transit schedules and learned I could drive ten minutes to the subway station, take the subway and change to a bus, and ride the bus to within a ten minute uphill walk of Dodger Stadium. Just about nobody does this. Maybe it's the uphill walk. Maybe it's the fact that white people don't like to ride the city bus. But they should. The trip from my front door to my seat in the stands was about 1 hour and 10 minutes each way, or just a little more than the time it takes to simply get in or out of the parking lot with a car. And I didn't use a bunch of gas or burn out my clutch in the process.

So screw you, Frank McCourt. You can't have my $15, no matter how hard you're trying. I'd rather walk up the hill.

8 metawords:

Some Guy said...

I love "sticking it to the man" stories like this. Well done!

The Imaginary Reviewer said...

Great stuff! That's really sucky on their part, though.

Anonymous said...

What it is, is, no one in Los Angeles knows how to walk. I spent years living in Manhattan where everyone walks everywhere, but my west coast friends were horrified. You walk? More than a block? Why?

It must be fun to pay for a ticket then pay $15 to park your car when you get there, plus the gas to drive there in the first place, then suppose you get hungry and need to pay 5 billionty dollars (or $5!) for a measly little runty hot dog and another $7 or so for a soda or beer - it's pretty much a big investment just to see your team playing a game you could watch on TV with a better view.

Of course, seeing a game in person is just SO much more fun. I miss baseball games. Although we have a team up here. Partly owned by Kevin Costner I believe, as he probably couldn't afford an American Major or Minor league team. :)

Cora said...

Ever wish you could teleport? Me too.

red said...

Never again.

And, um, you have a misplaced comma in that first paragraph.

Anonymous said...

That stadium kinda looks like a giant green vagina. No joke.

The Diva on a Diet said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Diva on a Diet said...

agree with Some Guy ... well done indeed!

Oh, and by the way, thanks for the clarification on Frank McCourt ... for a minute there I thought you meant the author! LOL