The team recently had its FanFest event and based on what I am able to tell, the event went pretty well. After all, the team finally retired Fernando Valenzuela’s number. I do commend the Dodgers for having parking and general attendance to the event be free for all who wanted to come. Credit goes to where credit is due.
But after reading about the event, there is one thing that I would argue that there’s one aspect of the event that feels gross for lack of a better word: overcharging everyone, especially children, for access to certain VIP events.
I am probably the type of fan that the team would love to have come to FanFest. I am an avid fan able to travel with plenty of disposable income that I would (and frequently do) spend on the team. Or put another way, quite simply:
Would I pay to have a meet and greet with Freddie Freeman, Julio Urías, or Fernando Valenzuela? Absolutely.
Should a Dodger fan who is a child have to pay to have a meet and greet with Freeman and Urías? Absolutely not.
Should a Dodger fan who is a child have to pay to have a meet and greet with Valenzuela or other legends of Dodger history? I could entertain the argument of requiring payment, but really it feels like a stretch too far to charge for meeting with current players at a fan-oriented event. This same reasoning applies to lunch with Steve Garvey — I would be interested in what he has to say, but frankly, I would not expect a child to know this legend from a bygone age.
Would I pay $25 per selfie with Gavin Lux, Brusdar Graterol, Miguel Vargas, Alex Vesia, or Noah Syndergaard? I would not do the entire list (sorry Thor — do something in Pantone-294 and we will talk), but yes, I could talk myself into forking over that kind of cash for a selfie. Should a Dodger fan who is a child have to pay for a selfie with any of the above players? Absolutely not.
What is even more frustrating and offensive to my sensibilities is that the team charged a literal premium for the vast majority of Tours that are normally offered at Dodger Stadium for those who ventured out to FanFest:
- The Clubhouse Tour, where tickets are normally $60 for adults and $40 for children was being charged to everyone at $95 per ticket;
- The Botanic Garden Tour, where tickets are normally $25 for adults and $15 for children was being charged to everyone at $45 per ticket;
- Normally, going to the Vin Scully Press Box is included in the Standard Tour, where tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for children (14 years and younger), or the Stadium Tour with Photo Opportunity, where tickets are $40 for adults and $35 for children (14 and under), was being charged to everyone at $45 per ticket; and
- Running the bases, which normally is free barring the price of admission for children (14 and under) was being charged to everyone at $25 per ticket (including a dugout photo).
The ultimate cherry on top is charging $1,995 for an all-encompassing All-Access Pass to just do whatever you want. I suppose that five dollars are going to something, but I have no idea what. But needless to say that the team sold out of All-Access Passes.
In fact, the only premium experience that was charged at a discount to everyone was the Hands-On experience, which normally costs $110 per person. At FanFest, the Dodgers only asked for $60 per person. That amount is still a ridiculous overpay, but I will acknowledge the (figurative) fire sale on putting one’s hands on Dodger memorabilia.
If the team wants to build a museum celebrating its history, go for it. But keep in mind that the St. Louis Cardinals did just that and it is a glorious celebration of that team’s history. Do you want to know how much the Cardinals charge for admission to their museum? $12...unless you’re a child, then you pay $8.
Yes, I am aware that the funds spent go to the team’s charity. I do not care. There are other events throughout the year where the foundation can get supplemental funding. This event is supposed to be an open house to spark interest in the upcoming season. Charging the equivalent of a bad used car for carte blanche at this fan-focused event feels bad. Charging that same amount so that a child can have carte blanche at this fan-focused event feels unconscionable.
Or put another way, hey Dodgers, leave them kids alone!
On this singular point, to quote Los Angeles Times writer Houston Mitchell, “the Dodgers should be ashamed.” And I know the Dodgers could and should do better. I do hope that the Dodgers re-calibrate their pricing scheme for FanFest in 2024.