The Los Angeles Dodgers announced a week ago that they would begin offering a free shuttle service from Union Station, downtown’s public transportation hub, and Dodger Stadium, beginning 90 minutes before every home game. The Dodgers have been in Los Angeles for over 50 years since moving from Brooklyn. It’s amazing that it has taken this long for them to create a service like this.
This summer I’ve had the chance to see games at Fenway Park in Boston and Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. Getting to the game couldn’t be easier, even for someone with a limited knowledge of the public transportation systems of the cities. The subways in Boston and New York will literally drop you off at the doorstep of the stadium from wherever you are in the city – and all for $2.
If you want to see a Dodger game, you’ll have to drive to the stadium and pay $15 for parking. And you can’t even tailgate. (NOTE: You can tailgate, but that means parking in a remote area of the parking lot, slouching down in your car seat, throwing back your beer in a bag (or flask, depending on how you booze) and generally avoiding authority, which can be fun in a this-reminds-me-of-high-school kind of way.)
I’ve been a Dodger fan my entire life. Every season I try to make it at least one game – usually more. But one thing I’ve noticed, having been to other ballparks around the country, is that Dodger fans don’t always form the same kind of close community that fans in other cities do. Many it’s because we’re so diverse. But I’d like to think that at least part of the problem stems from our culture of driving to the game in our own cars instead of taking public transportation.
It’s a microcosmic example of what people having been complaining about LA forever. We shut ourselves out from the rest of the world in our cars, rarely taking the chance to mingle with the other people that cross our paths on the way to work, restaurants, the bars, and Dodger games. When you get on the train to Fenway, AT&T Park in San Francisco, or Yankee Stadium, you feel the comaraderie before you get to the stadium. It’s all part of the experience.
It remains to be seen how efficient the shuttle service will be and how many people will use it once the novelty wears off. The shuttle might have problems navigating up Sunset at rush hour. Also, it doesn’t solve the driving/parking problem for most fans, who are coming from all different parts of Southern California to Dodger Stadium. Would they really want to park at Union Station, then take a shuttle to the stadium, just to save a few bucks? We shall see.
Regardless, it is important that the Dodger organization provide the option to take the shuttle to the game. It’s pretty impressive, too, considering that such a large portion of their revenue likely comes from parking sales. Well done.