This is the story of two baseball stadiums separated by about 30 miles of freeway in Southern California. The teams that occupy them—the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (now there’s a convoluted moniker)—share more than a few similarities. For instance, each is looking up longingly at first place in their division and desperately need an impact player or two to effectively compete.
It is their stadiums, however, that share an affinity that transcends their identical 400-foot measurement from home plate to center field. Each was opened more than 40 years ago as the first truly modern baseball venues, which unfortunately makes them exceedingly old by today’s ballpark standards. Dodger Stadium, opened in 1962, is the third oldest major league stadium after Fenway Park in Boston and Wrigley Field in Chicago. Angel Stadium of Anaheim, which followed in 1966, is the fourth oldest. Dodger Stadium cost $23 million, one million less than Angel (then Anaheim) Stadium.
(There are differences, too. Dodger Stadium is owned by the Dodgers, and the Dodgers are owned by Frank and Jamie McCourt—or at least until the couple’s impending divorce proceedings determine otherwise. But Angel Stadium (and please, let’s call it that) is owned by the city of Anaheim and is under long-term lease to the ball club, while the club itself is owned by Artie Moreno, a billionaire whose ownership seems threatened by no one.)
Of course, there have been renovations and improvements to both, some of which has first involved crumbling and even falling concrete. While Dodger Stadium’s maximum capacity is limited by agreement with the city to the 56,000 seats, the seats themselves have been changed and luxury boxes added. Not much has been done with the plumbing (patrons complain regularly about a lack of restroom facilities) and long lines at concession stands. Much of that was to be addressed in an announced $500 million renovation, most of which has yet to begin.
Angel Stadium has seen the most radical physical changes since opening. Built as an open stadium, it was renovated to also accommodate the once-tenancy of the Los Angeles Rams NFL team and enclosed to add capacity. Since the Rams are long gone, capacity has been reduced. In more recent renovations, the 200-foot “A” tower was moved from behind center field to the parking lot where it has become a landmark. It was replaced by a “rock pile” center field feature with a flowing stream and real trees. A reported $118 million has been spent on major renovations since 1996.
Meanwhile, in attending games a week apart at both ballparks, here is what I found:
- Beer is cheaper at Angel Stadium
- Rest room lines are shorter at Angel Stadium
- Both parking lots may require lengthy walks
- Parking costs $8 at Angel Stadium, $15 at Dodger Stadium
- Both parking lots empty slowly
- Both parks are well maintained and clean
- Both have unobstructed sight lines for fans, but you’d better sit up fairly high between first and third bases if you really want to follow the game
- Dodger Stadium has an incomparable setting in Chavez Ravine—what a view
- Angel Stadium has better scoreboards
- Dodger Stadium has a terrific pre-game buffet in the Stadium Club (but it costs $39.95), but I wouldn’t want to eat anything I saw from any of the concession stands
- Angel Stadium has a remarkable Friday night fireworks show after the game (it really is something)
- The Wave is tepid in both ballparks, and just as annoying
- Angel Stadium is actively anti-beachball, while Dodger attendants don’t seem to care much unless one gets loose on the field
- Nobody keeps score any more