As I mentioned last week, I was in L.A. for the 2010 AAJA national convention. Big baseball fan that I am, one of the highlights of my trip was organizing an outing with fellow AAJAers to a Dodgers game while down there. The game was Aug. 6 against the Washington Nationals.
I’ve never been to a major league game outside of Seattle, so I was very excited about my trip to Dodger Stadium. Since I love going to baseball games just for the experience and know nothing about player stats, team standings, etc., I’ve decided to compare my game-going experiences with each team to see who ends up on top.
**Disclaimer: This scoring system is by no means official, regulated or standardized. I’m awarding points based on how I feel. And as a born-and-bred Seattle girl, I admit I am biased toward the Mariners. This being said, I will do my best to remain objective. I can’t make any promises, but I’ll try.**
As with almost everything nowadays, you can buy tickets online for both teams. This is what I usually do, but since I live pretty close to an official Mariners Team Store, I can also buy tickets there to avoid service charges.
For the Dodgers game, I visited Goldstar and found tickets for a little more than half price (after the fees and surcharges since we bought them online). I was pretty stoked we got field-level seats for less than $40.
I’ve been Mariners game where I’ve sat pretty close to the field but I don’t think they’ve ever been as close as when I was at the Dodgers game. I’ve also never gotten discount tickets to a Mariners game (aside from when friends have gotten free tickets from work, special offers, etc. but that doesn’t count). I know there are websites where you can purchase such tickets, but I’ve never visited them and have always just paid full price. That’s probably a mistake on my part and will probably look into this for future games. Unfortunately, Goldstar does not offer discount Mariners tickets that I’ve seen.
1 point to L.A. Dodgers for discount tickets.
Once tickets are bought, you have to figure out how you’re going to get to the game. Now, like most sport venues, parking near the stadium can be stressful and expensive. Both Safeco Field and Dodger Stadium offer parking in garages or lots. Parking at Safeco is about $20, while Dodger Stadium parking is $15.
Safeco is in Downtown Seattle, so there are tons of private lots where you can park for a little less. There is also Chinatown and the International District are also within walking distance and if you’re lucky, you can find free street parking since the games usually take place at night. From what I observed, Dodger Stadium is up on a hill by itself. You have to pass through gates to get into the venue, so you can park outside of the area if you don’t mind walking. But, the Dodgers have teamed up with L.A. Metro and they offer the Dodger Express, which takes you straight to the stadium from Union Station. The shuttle is free if you have your ticket with you or $1.50 if you don’t. The Mariners have a similar service with King County Metro, but it costs $5.
1 point to Seattle Mariners for convenient location and parking options. 1 point to Dodgers for convenient and cheap transportation option.
Having experienced indoor games at the Kingdome, my first Mariners game at Safeco Field with the retractable roof open was quite a treat. There is just something about watching a game with nothing but sky up above that makes the entire experience so much better. But of course, this is Seattle and since the city is almost synonymous with rain, having the option of a covered stadium is essential.
Dodger Stadium is an outdoor stadium without a roof — retractable or otherwise. Los Angeles weather does not deem one necessary. It was also pretty sweet to look out and see palm trees, something you definitely would not see at Safeco. Although, at sunset, you can really see L.A.’s infamous smog. Not exactly a pretty sight.
I only saw Dodger Stadium from one side, so I know this is not the case, but one thing I noticed that the stadium was missing was tributes and pictures of the players. I’ve looked at pictures of the stadium and have seen photos of what is presumably the other side of the stadium, which does have the team’s players’ likenesses on it.
Safeco not only has pictures of Mariners all around the stadium, but the city of Seattle pays tribute to past Mariner, Edgar Martinez by giving him his own street. Longtime Seattle P-I sports journalist Royal Brougham is also honored with his own stretch of pavement (South Royal Brougham Way). I’ve got to say, that is pretty awesome.
1 point awarded to Seattle Mariners for retractable roof and honoring past players and local sports figures.
One of my favorite things about going to a baseball game is the food. When I visit Safeco, I like to walk along Occidental Avenue and hit up the food vendors since we’re allowed to bring food into the stadium (but not drinks).
One stand I always make sure to stop by is Al’s Gourmet Sausage, the one with the yellow top. At Al’s, you’ve got a variety of choices, from basic franks and spicy Polish dogs, to beer brats and 1/4 pound kielbasas. There are even veggie dogs for non meat eaters. Personally, I usually go for the kielbasa or spicy Polish, depending on my mood. You can also get grilled onions on top if you want (I usually do). The stand also provides an array of condiments if you choose to pile up your dog.
Unlike Safeco Field, Dodger Stadium is a bit isolated, so the only food available is what’s at the stadium. Before my trip to Dodger Stadium, I was told I needed to try a Dodger Dog (grilled). I have to admit with my past Seattle experiences, my expectations were high and I was a bit disappointed in the end. There are two options: regular Dodger Dogs which are a beef/pork blend and the all-beef Super Dodger Dogs. The dogs are long and skinny. When it comes to hot dogs, I need something more substantial and the Dodger Dog just didn’t deliver.
Both stadiums offer garlic fries, which I love. Safeco’s got Grounders World Famous Garlic Fries with apple slices and Dodger Stadium has Gordon Biersch Garlic Fries. After sampling both, I have to say it’s a tie. Both options are smothered with fresh chopped garlicky goodness (so make sure to bring gum or mints with you) with just the right amount of grease.
1 point to Seattle Mariners for awesome hot dog options, variety and allowing outside food inside.
One of the best ways to get a crowd pumped for the home team is announcing players when they’re up to bat. This in addition to the players’ songs always brings cheers no matter where you are.
The Mariners’ announcers introduce players with an enthusiasm that I felt the Dodgers’ announcer lacked. Nonetheless, fans always get excited for their favorite players no matter what.
1 point awarded to Seattle Mariners for enthusiastic announcers.
What I love about the game-going experience is how the crowd gets involved — not just with what’s happening on the field, but also in terms of non-game related entertainment. At Safeco, you can root for your favorite hydroplane in the simulated race on the big screen and figure out which hat the ball is under during the hat trick. There are also the folks who come out to tidy up the bases and then break out into dance. I love them!
Dodger Stadium didn’t have any crowd-participation games such as the race or hat trick, but since it was 80’s Night they played awesome music and had a karaoke moment with Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.” The big screen featured this guy who performed like a pro, with snippets to this little boy who rocked a mean air guitar.
1 point awarded to Seattle Mariners for a variety of activities. 1 point awarded to L.A. Dodgers for playing an awesome song.
Leaving the Game
I don’t know about you, but at the end of each game, I usually just want to get out as fast as I can. This can be a bit difficult at Safeco because you’ve got to deal with traffic if you’re parked right by the stadium. And if you’re driving, you’ve got to watch for pedestrians. This can sometimes be a pain. If you do what I do and park in the Chinatown/ID area, you’ve got a bit of a walk to your car. It’s usually not a big deal, but if you’re tired, you can’t get to your car fast enough.
At Dodger Stadium, you can just take the Dodger Express back to Union Station. It’s fast since the shuttle doesn’t make any other stops. You don’t have to deal with traffic either, which is always nice. And best of all, it’s free. Union Station is a pretty central station so you can take the bus or metro to almost anywhere in L.A.
1 point awarded to L.A. Dodgers for fast, free and convenient post-game transportation.
Seattle Mariners: 5
L.A. Dodgers: 4
It was a close one, but looks like my team just squeaked by with a win. Go Mariners!