LOS ANGELES — Opening Day is just two days away, so besides craving real baseball action that actually counts, one's thoughts may wander to how one's stadium experience might differ compared to last year. To that end, Los Angeles Dodgers officials met with a bevy of bloggers at Dodger Stadium last week to show some of their promotional items for the coming season, to discuss other changes being made to the stadium and surrounding areas, and to unveil samples of new food offerings (which will be the focus of a separate, future article).
The Dodgers commissioned artist Branly Cadet to create a statue honoring Jackie Robinson, which will be unveiled on April 15th, Jackie Robinson Day for Major League Baseball, with the first 40,000 fans in attendance receiving a miniature replica of the statue. While Dodgers Senior Vice President, Planning and Development Janet Marie Smith remained tight-lipped on the appearance of the sculpture, stating only that she's seen it, that it is "bronze with a granite base" and "larger than life", the permanent location was revealed to be on the Reserve Level. Smith stated the location selection was made due to Reserve Level being the "most populated" in the Stadium, and that it will be "visible from [portions of] the upper deck".
The main change within the stadium was already seen by those who attended or watched the World Baseball Classic games from Dodger Stadium, the replacement of the seats in the dugout and baseline club seats, those closest to the field. Smith said that the dugout club seats behind home plate had reached the end of their useful life. The new, blue color scheme was selected to be "better for the camera" and "to reflect the color of the blue wall" that used to mark the border between the field and the seats. She also noted the color is the "same as the top deck blue" and that the blue allowed the fielders to see batted balls better than the previous yellow and brown scheme.
Smith also announced changes in the parking lot configuration (pdf file link), including a re-routing of the "ring road" that circles the stadium with traffic flowing in a clockwise direction. This allowed the Dodgers to carve out a new premium parking Lot H out of portions of Lots 4, 6 and 7, beyond the outfield pavilions and the existing Lot G. The north end of the ring road will now extend onto the roadbed of the previously existing outer ring road (as seen in this 1967 photo) and run directly alongside the 76 Station building, with the portion of the previous ring road running between Lots G and H used solely for public transportation. Parking prices remain unchanged from last year, with substantial surcharges for purchasing at the gate rather than in advance.
No word yet from the Dodgers on how the lot reconfiguration affects their pyrotechnic events, which previously closed most of Lot 6 to parking to have the launching area and required clearance defined. If they are not moving the launch location, one would assume portions of Lot H would be closed for games featuring post-game fireworks, which includes Friday Night Fireworks and Independence Day this year.
UPDATE: The Dodgers told me that the pyrotechnics staging area would not be moved. On fireworks nights, the same portion of what is now Lot H “would not be sold.”
The Dodgers have scheduled 33 theme nights scattered throughout the season with special ticket packages that include promotional items, which are mostly T-shirts or caps. While many themes are similar to past years such as UCLA and USC night, one new one that may intrigue is "Game of Thrones" night. That item was not ready for display, but presumably it will feature no nudity or violence.
Several promotional items that will be distributed at games in 2017 were also on display at the event. Electronic devices are becoming popular giveaways*, with this year's selections including a phone charger and a Bluetooth speaker. And of course there are still bobbleheads.
* With tiered pricing a full reality, "giveaways" is something of a misnomer; it's pretty clear how much premium one pays for the promotional item.
For fans of Viva Los Dodgers Sunday, that event's frequency is being reduced from most home Sunday games to the "last home Sunday of the month", according to David Siegel, the Dodgers Vice President of Ticket Sales.
The Dodgers full promotional schedule can be found here.