It’s Time For Dodgers Baseball. Budget Wisely, and You’ll Have a Great Time!

Summertime is baseball time, and LA-area residents can get the ultimate baseball fan experience at Dodger Stadium this year.

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From personal experience over two recent Dodgers games, I can tell you that you will need to budget your time and/or money just right for everyone involved to have a good time. For the first game we went as regular people, paying out of pocket and standing in line and almost getting killed in the parking lot. The second time, we were guests of the Dodgers to check out their promo plans and new food choices – for this we got really good tickets and parking, which obvs is the way to go and if I take my son back I will definitely be working an extra job to spring for the $$ tickets and parking or taking the shuttle to the stadium.

Here are some considerations to keep in mind as you plan your attendance at a Dodgers game this summer.

Choice of Game

The Dodgers organization is pulling out all the stops to get people to come to the stadium. Many fans are riveted to the game itself, but if you are bringing little kids or people who aren’t into baseball, there are features for them to look forward to also. On Friday nights this summer there will be fireworks after the game. On select Saturdays, there will be movie screenings after games. And on July 4 there will be a big Independence Day celebration after the game, just for ticket holders.

dodgers bobblehead(Image from Dodgers Twitter feed)

There are also “promotional” games, when they give out a gift like a bobblehead doll or a branded collapsible laundry basket or spray bottle fan, among other things. While these may seem like cool things to get with the cost of your ticket, be warned: these tend to be the most crowded games. Our first visit was on Adrian Gonzalez bobblehead night. Big mistake. Tickets were expensive, the stadium was sold out, and even though we pre-paid for parking, it was a disaster. (See below.) We didn’t even get the bobbleheads, because they were out of them by the time we got to the gate. Our companions who arrived on time didn’t get them either. The promo items are only guaranteed to the first 40,000 ticket holders, and we saw people holding two and three bobbleheads. Not that we need another tchotchke in our house, but our kids were pretty disappointed.

To avoid the crowds, cost, and long lines (30 minutes or more!) at the concession stands, choose a weeknight game that is not offering a promotional item or special event. Easier to focus on the actual baseball that way anyway!

Get There Early

Leave early. If you think you’re leaving really early, leave earlier. Especially coming from Agoura Hills, this is a big one. Traffic can make your trip take over an hour, and once you get to the stadium, if you are arriving close to game time (or it’s a sold out game and you arrive an hour ahead of time) you will be stuck in parking lines, even though they sell “preferred” parking and advertise that this is meant to move lines along faster. I really hope they improve this plan, because it did not work on our first visit.

Even with pre-paid parking and arriving over an hour before game time, this is where I had to park, in a satellite lot up at the top of a mountain:

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After the game I walked back up with my son and my father and we were nearly run over by a drunk driver – even staff with reflective vests on acknowledged that she was drunk, but didn’t seem moved to do anything about it – and there were no lights on the road. Don’t risk your life for the Dodgers. If you’re coming to a sold out game, you should park at Union Station and take the Dodger Express bus from there to the stadium – it’s free if you’ve purchased your game ticket in advance. Our friends chose that option and had a much easier time.

On our second trip we arrived 2 hours early. At that time most of the parking was empty, so that might be a good move if you’re just a regular person parking in general parking. As guests of the Dodgers we had preferred parking which was closer to the stadium and also allowed our exit to be quick and smooth right after the game was over.

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This made our journey much easier and gave us lots of time to kill checking out the concessions and cool things in the stadium. Also if you get there early they let you watch batting practice.

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Buy the Good Seats

For the promotional/special event games, tickets will be more expensive. So if you want good seats, depending on what that means to you, you’ll spend less if you go to less crowded games.

We sat in the Reserved level behind home plate during the first visit, and that was okay, but it was kind of annoying when people got up to use the bathroom or go to concessions because you’re packed in so tightly. Most of the fans around us were respectful and nice, but a few were smoking (which, um, is illegal in the stadium, WTF) or spilled beer or were just generally unfriendly. Not fun especially if you’ve got your kids with you.

During the blogger event we were on the club level and I don’t know how much those tickets cost (I’m betting a lot) but that is the way to go, man. Seat-side service, much less crowded, great view of the field. And it has its own concession stand, too.

Budget For Food

The food is different at stands all around the stadium, and this season the Dodgers are introducing lots of new items, which my son and I sampled at the blogger event.

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Our favorite was the Pop Fly Extreme Dodger Dog, which you can get on the Field level (aisle 48). There are loaded nachos served in helmets, special ice cream sandwiches, a spicy michelada, pizza topped with giant pepperoni, and more. The new items are scattered all over the stadium so here’s a handy guide.

Enjoy the Game

The whole point is the baseball, though, right? My younger son is riveted by the action itself, so he doesn’t need a lot of snacks and he didn’t even want to leave his seat to go to the restroom. It’s worth the entire effort just to see his face as Yael Puig or Joc Pederson fires the ball over the fence.

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One thing he is excited to check out is that after Sunday games played during the day, kids 14 and under are allowed to run the bases! Families can line up in center field after the game is over and get the experience of running on the Dodger infield.

The bottom line is that for us to attend a Dodger game without worrying about traffic safety, we need to budget a lot of time. To enjoy¬† the snacks and good seats, we need to budget a lot of money. It’s no easy matter – it’s almost like going to Disneyland now – but it’s fun to do if you can devote the money and the time to doing it right.