The Militant, normally having faithfully attended Dodgers Opening Day for the past five years, was unable to attend this year for unspecified reasons. But he was able to attend Opening Night on Tuesday to partake in the new $100 million additions to The Stadium, as well as to check out the MLB debut of South Korean pitching phenom Hyun-Jin Ryu.
56,000 enjoyed the previous day's 4-0 victory by Clayton Kershaw against the entire Frisco Giants team and the new venue amenities. So much, that no one caused any trouble. So clearly the 2011 Bryan Stow incident was Frank McC*urt's fault.
|Dodger Stadium ExpressLanes!|
The most obvious difference between the new Guggenheim-owned Dodger Stadium and the McC*urt-era ballpark is how it's presented: Where the McC*urt Dodger Stadium used player branding as a draw and a marketing mechanism - from Eric Gagne's "Game Over" icon to past and present player banners hung around the stadium to Mannywood (and the associated dreadlock wigs), the new Guggenheim look for the stadium sells the name in front of the uniforms, rather than the back. Drawing heavily from the retro early-'60s aesthetic, the images are varied, but the look is somehow uniform: From the choice of fonts on concession stand menus, to the oversized team iconography intended for photo opportunities (if you remember Universal Studios before the 1990s, you'll know what The Militant is talking about), to the jolly-looking bobblehead boys statues, the place is no longer just a baseball venue, but a Dodger fan fantasy land. Picture Willy Wonka with the voice of Vin Scully and the look of Tommy Lasorda, and we're basically in his factory. And The Militant just loves it.
|It's like watching ESPN on steroids or something. Oops, bad choice of words.|
The new outfield screens are awesome, It's like you just bought a new computer with dual monitors.
The new screens return a symmetry not seen since 1980 when the rectangular Mitsubishi Diamond Vision display replaced the original 1962 left field pavilion hexagonal scoreboard screen. Ironically, the Diamond Vision, hailed as a technological advancement in its inception, was now considered antiquated, and was the main reason for the screens' replacement. Its right field pavilion partner, lighting up in monochromatic amber since '62, was also replaced with a matching HD screen.
The result is freaking amazing. The images are sharp and tasty, and don't look weird when you take a picture or video of them. Moreover, they display a crapload of info and images (Text such as the "Dodgers Welcome..." announcements and the lyrics to "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" are now shown on the long rectangular screens below the large hexagonal ones, though both sets can each function as one large screen.
|The Militant isn't pissed off about the new-look restrooms!|
The Food Stands
|One of the food booths has gone Gangnam Style on us.|
|The Militant wishes he was a kid again. Cool, that would mean Steve Garvey would be back on the team.|
The Bobblehead Boys and Team Icons
|The very photogenic Bobblehead Boys make their debut!|
The most visible items are the 10-foot tall "Bobblehead Boys" statues, which don't represent any players in particular, but are modeled after the old-school 1960 papier-mache MLB bobble head dolls with the same face, but different uniform, specific to each team. Not only are they a nod to nostalgia, they're also informative: Each statue sports a different variation of the home and road uniform worn throughout the years, and for a diverse city like Los Angeles, each of them comes in a different skin color. Best of all, they're actual functioning bobbleheads!
The Militant thinks The Dodgers should give each of them a name, and make them actual giveaway bobblehead dolls. Though, when we win our next World Series, some fools gonna be tearin' their heads off!
The Stadium now boasts free Wi-Fi and boosted cellular coverage. Previously, a cell tower on a hill, disguised as a palm tree, in nearby Elysian Park carried the stadium's signals. For most games, though, an over-abundance of mobile phones overwhelmed it and most people went blank as far as using their smartphones. Not good if you're trying to text your friends, or Tweet/Facebook/Instagram the game, or look up baseball stats on your iPad. The Militant was unable to log on to the open Wi-Fi connection in the Stadium with his unspecified smartphone, but cell coverage was consistent - he was easily able to Tweet during the game! The last time was able to do that was during the 2011 "McC*rt Boycott" season (Heh heh).
Of course there are even more improvements: The "batter's eye" black screen behind center field was enlarged, which is cool since it blocks more of the parking lot and should help chip away the misconception that only Los Angeles fans arrive late and leave early (which is scientifically proven to happen at most every sports venue, though Dodger Stadium is the only one with the parking lot in plain view). And of course there's the expanded clubhouses, which you won't be able to see unless you take an official Stadium tour, or are a player or member of the media.
The new improvements are...MILITANT-APPROVED!
Aside from the Dodgers losing 3-0, the not-so-garlicy garlic fries and the fact that the Cool-A-Coo guy never came to The Militant's aisle :( , it was a memorable Opening Night and a great start to the season with the new ownership. You can feel it in the air -- more people are staying to the end of the game, and the "LET'S GO DODGERS!" chants are noticeably louder now.
Go Blue, all the mf'ing way!