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Eat, Drink and Be Married at the Ballpark

From coast to coast, couples are shirking tradition, choosing instead to tie the knot in stadiums.

April 21, 2002|CHRISTINE FREY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Reception fees range depending upon stadium, party size and menu. At Comiskey Park, for example, there is an $8,000 food and beverage minimum. Wrigley Field has a $4,000 minimum. Renting home plate for a wedding can cost anywhere from $1,000 (Coors Field) to $5,000 (Dodger Stadium). Renting the entire field can start at $25,000. Some stadiums will introduce the bridal party on the Jumbotron or bring in the stadium organist to play the wedding march for additional fees. At Edison Field, couples can set off fireworks for about $1,500 a minute.

Most stadiums only hold events when the home team is out of town or during the off-season. This season alone, Larson-Moore, who books weddings at Coors Field, has more than a dozen weddings and receptions scheduled.

With the events, stadiums can keep staff employed throughout the year, says Bob Adolfson, vice president of national sales for Aramark, which provides food and beverages for 13 baseball stadiums, including Edison and Coors fields. The events are also an additional source of revenue, which can be particularly important for some of the newer fields.

The stadium has not yet hosted any weddings, but 2-year-old Pacific Bell Park in San Francisco markets the field for a variety of other events, including birthdays, business conventions and bar mitzvahs. (One of its most expensive packages: a night on the field with dinner along with a movie screened on the Jumbotron at a cost of $150,000.) "We're open to do it," says Stephen Revetria, director of sales and marketing for the park, "because we have a mortgage to pay."

Not everyone, though, is such a fan.

Yankee Stadium, perhaps the most famous baseball stadium in the world, will host weddings and other events; however, officials there "frown on it," says Joel White, of concessions and hospitality. "It sounds like a very cute thing, but when you get down to it, it's not our business .... We're not a catering hall, we're a baseball park."

For Sherri Hoffman and Bill Whipple, Dodger Stadium is even "holy ground." The sanctity of the field made it the only place for the Pasadena couple to sanctify their marriage.

During their November 2000 nuptials, the wedding party donned Dodger blue and yarmulkes with the team's logo. Baseball bats held the Jewish chuppah, or bridal canopy, above home plate. Dinner, in the stadium's Dugout Club, started with hors d'oeuvres of peanuts and pigs in a blanket. And guests received Dodger baseball bats and balls--imprinted with the couple's wedding date--as favors.

"There wasn't a whole lot that we didn't include," Hoffman, 46, says on a recent Saturday before she and Whipple, 51, head out to the ballpark.

The couple, who never miss a home game, met at the stadium; their season tickets were next to each other. Reserve level. Aisle 11. Row V. They still sit in the same seats.

"How many times do you go back to where you were married?" Hoffman asks. "We go back 81 times a year. Please, with season playoffs, 90 times. It's where we belong. It's home."

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