So you’ve decided to heed the call to adventure. Good for you. If you need to refer back to what the Guide actually is or who I actually am, please refer to the included links.
The “Bizarro” Dodger Stadium
The Guide has the following to say about going to a game at Angel Stadium of Anaheim:
Imagine up is down and black is white — isn’t everything just a fearful sight?
Angel Stadium of Anaheim (“The Big A”), home of the Anaheim Angels, can really only be described as a Bizarro-version of Dodger Stadium where everything good about going to a game at Our Blue Heaven is bad, and yet everything bad is good.
[Author’s note: The Author of this essay is fully aware that the Angels have been calling themselves The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for many years. The Author firmly believes with righteous indignation that this name is stupid and an affront to his sanity and the common sense of everyone reading. Therefore, The Author shall be unreasonable, for once, and call this team by its former, more accurate name.]
Accordingly, going to The Big A is often a frustrating, exasperating experience that leaves you poorer and wondering why you did not just stay home and/or why you chose this outing versus going to Disneyland for the first time in twenty-five years.
The following is all you will need to know about going to a Dodgers/Angels game at The Big A.
The Five Questions of the Guide:
1. Is it worth going here?
Honestly, no — but if you live nearby...or if you’re a completionist...you’re still probably better off at home.
Here is the underlying paradox of The Big A — the Dodgers' presence brings out the worst of the stadium. In a vacuum, The Big A is an underwhelming park as it is almost as old as Dodger Stadium, and it shows, even with renovations. But the Dodgers coming down the I-5 freeway to visit brings out the worst in the stadium. For example:
- Do you like to be gouged as to ticket prices? No? — well too bad, prepare to pay a mint for just about any seat to see a Dodgers/Angels game in Anaheim.
- Do you like middling, overpriced food? No? — well too bad, prepare to pay Dodger Stadium-level prices for food, except it is not memorable at all.
- Do you like seats that are too close together? No? — well too bad, prepare to feel like you’re trapped in coach on an airline for the next three hours unless you paid a small fortune for a better seat.
- Do you like being forced to schedule a stadium tour on an off-day, wasting your time and adding to the expense of travel? No? — well too bad, this stadium only has tours when there is no game scheduled, which made sense during COVID, but borders on insanity now.
- Do you like being incessantly (figuratively) bludgeoned over the head with a team’s successes from literally twenty years ago? No? — well too bad, the Angels have been managing to waste two generational talents for a while now. I am all for a team embracing its history but the Angels glom onto their wisps of success to a degree that is honestly embarrassing.
Keep reading and I will tell you how I really feel. I could and probably should go on, but I think I have made my point. However, there is one major benefit to The Big A that furthers the Bizarro analogy.
- Do you like sitting in a sea of traffic after a Dodgers game? No? — well that’s good because the layout of The Big A’s parking lots allows for a far speedier exit here than at Dodger Stadium.
For the first-timer to The Big A, you get ... nothing. While you can print out the certificate at home, it is smaller than a regular-sized piece of paper, even smaller than the certificate than the one that the Diamondbacks would give you — on thicker paper stock.
2. How should I get there?
Now if you live in Los Angeles or Orange County, one would expect that you would drive yourself to The Big A. I have never parked here but the costs look to be half as much as Dodger Stadium.
Depending on where you are staying a rideshare is an option, but you roll the dice on getting stuck in traffic the closer you get to the first pitch. Also, if your driver is inexperienced and does not know about the dedicated rideshare entrance, you run the risk of getting stuck in general traffic, which backs up considerably during game days. However, local police are on site to direct traffic, which is helpful.
If you follow the Guide’s recommendations, you can technically walk to and from the Big A with relative ease. However, if you go to the game on foot, if you try to go anywhere else in the area that is not the stadium, you will need to either be renting a car or travel by rideshare.
3. Where should I stay?
Now if you are willing to rent a car finding a relatively affordable hotel in Anaheim is an achievable task that you can easily do on your own. If you follow the recommendations of the Guide, there are two options to take and one option to avoid.
The TownePlace Suites by Marriott are about a ten-minute walk to the Stadium Gates. However, this hotel can be a bit pricey and while it does share a couple of fast food options in its shopping center, some of them require a car to use because their lobbies will be closed if the game ends too late.
Ayers Hotel Orange has been consistently cheaper than TownePlace Suites in my experience trying to watch a game in Anaheim. However, while it is technically walkable to the stadium, the surrounding area is openly hostile to pedestrians by the lack of infrastructure and the elevated speed of cars zipping past you. For this hotel, I would recommend biting the bullet and ordering a rideshare to and from the stadium. For non-surge pricing, I recall paying around $10/trip which would take 10 minutes with a skilled driver and 20-30 minutes with an amateur.
Note that I have crossed off Ayres Hotel Anaheim as a place to avoid. I should note that there is nothing particularly wrong with this hotel. Strictly by using Google Maps, one should be able to walk to and from the stadium. However, the standard view of Google Maps hides arguably a fatal flaw of picking this hotel: if you decide to walk to and from you will be going underneath a freeway overpass. And while I have been to some rougher neighborhoods around the world and I have the physique of an offensive lineman, I would not make that walk alone at night nor would I recommend that you make that walk at night.
4. Where should I sit?
Ticket pricing is the true Achilles Heel of this ballpark. I am used to paying a premium for tickets at Dodger Stadium, Oracle Park, and Petco Park. I am less thrilled about being gouged at places like The Big A.
You would think that a park where I saw Clayton Kershaw be perfect for seven innings would be a rave destination. It is not, which pains me to say even when capturing memorable moments in person.
There is no such thing as a cheap seat or even a reasonable ticket price at The Big A when the Dodgers are in town. Therefore, I cannot recommend any seat at The Big A as the cost concerns frankly price out anyone wanting to see the Dodgers play in Anaheim.
The exorbitant costs for what you get are frankly borderline insulting. During the original #SaveEli trip, my most expensive game ticket was NOT Game 3 at Wrigley Field in the Catalina Club (with all-inclusive food and non-alcoholic drink); it was sitting in the bleachers well behind the bullpens of The Big A.
Even seats in the upper deck are over $100, which is ludicrous for a regular-season game.
To add insult to figurative injury, the seats are too close together in the upper deck. I usually go to Dodger/Angel games with my law school friend. I am six foot one; he is six foot five; our elbows are banging together more frequently than the Shaq-era Lakers’ defending the post.
You might think that going to a Dodger game at The Big A would be like going to Petco Park in that if the floor for lower-end tickets is much higher, then presumably wouldn’t the ceiling for higher-end tickets be more attainable? Truthfully no. The above photograph was taken from the front row of Section 120 and cost me $400 before fees and taxes.
I did something that I am not very proud of — I got annoyed and let my emotions override my common sense on a personal matter not worth discussing when I bought this ticket. Due to my hubris, I ended up on everyone’s television screens.
For a non-playoff game, paying more than $250 for a ticket to a ballgame is just dumb for the average fan. And accidental memes aside, here is why I cannot recommend even splurging for going big and feeling like a big shot right behind home plate.
Yes, with tickets costing $400 dollars and getting as close to the action as you can without being on the field, you would think “well, at least my food and drink (but not alcohol) are covered.” You would be very wrong at The Big A. While there is an unlimited buffet you can access when entering the Diamond Club at The Big A, you have to pay an additional $50 to use it.
So if you want to relive my thought process from that night, enjoy: you, the Angels, have already charged me $400 for my seat and now, you want an extra $50 so I can drink my fill of Diet Coke and maybe have a hot dog or two to nurse the fact I have spent money poorly at your ballpark?
And in case you were wondering whether the situation improved for the coming year...it did not. As you can see from above, the prices are reasonable when the Dodgers are not in town. But the Dodgers come to visit, the prices are patently absurd. I am all for premium seating costing more, but to have price increases for all seats of 100-500 percent is just a giant middle finger to those coming to the ballparks.
And here is the final sobering thought, these prices are if you buy from the team, if you buy on the secondary market — forget it, the prices are somehow even worse. You might, naturally be wondering, well if Petco Park or Oracle Park also has inflated prices when the Dodgers come to town, why single out The Big A?
That question is a fair one. The difference is that while the floor for ticket prices may be elevated at all three stadiums, no one can seriously contend that The Big A is comparable to Oracle Park or Petco Park. Both NL West stadiums offer better facilities, better food, better views, and just enough slack in the floor, by which I mean, I can find a bargain or a reasonable price at Oracle or Petco if I look hard enough. In my view, you cannot do the same at The Big A.
Unless you have to visit every stadium or you are meeting up with friends/family/significant others that you cannot meet up with otherwise — save your money and stay home.
I normally talk about the food before I talk about seating. It’s fine, but unremarkable for what you get. Personally, I would just eat at the nearby Carl’s Jr by the TownePlace Suite before the game because the quality is comparable to what you get at the stadium.
And if there was one last thing worth pointing out to why The Big A, which would normally be a middling, unremarkable, aging stadium, is a poor choice for you, the Dodger fan, to attend in person: the fighting. I have been to three games over two seasons at this ballpark and honestly, I have lost track of the number of fights I have seen break out. The number would easily dwarf the number of fights I have seen break out in my presence at Oracle Park and Petco Park combined.
5. After your trip, is it worth going back?
Hey, that was somehow NOT fun. Why did I put myself through all of this work?
I have been to three games at The Big A in 2021 and 2022. The Dodgers won both games in 2022 and lost in memorable fashion to conclude the original #SaveEli trip the year before.
Personally, I would rate The Big A at the Guide’s second-lowest rating (Hey, that was fun, but I probably don’t need to do that again), if not for semi-regular meet-ups with my friend from law school and his spouse at The Big A. Absent them, I would have zero reasons to return.
But you likely do not have long-suffering similar friends who are Angels’ fans whose friendship and long-suffering love affair with this terribly managed team you want to respect. As such, I cannot in good conscience recommend this ballpark.
For the amount of money I spent, I could have easily gone to Disneyland. Even if you happen to live in Los Angeles, proximity does not equal savings because what you would be saving for staying local will be spent almost entirely on going to the game itself.