Dodgers outfielder Bobby Abreu looks to throw a ball to a fan after recording… (Victor Decolongon / Getty…)
Admittedly, my focus group lacked focus. Asked for suggestions on how to make Dodger Stadium more family friendly, some readers wanted to ban beer; others suggested a separate section for thugs and goons. A thuggery? A goony bin?
If anything is clear from this informal readers' survey, it's how multi-denominational the Dodger faithful remain. Some stadiums have a personality all their own, while Chavez Ravine suffers/enjoys multiple personalities.
One fan suggested banning customers with neck tattoos. This may be going a little far. Remember, gangbangers and skinheads are people too. Though just barely.
I'd counter by suggesting we ban fund managers who spend the entire game talking smugly on their cellphones from their $400 seats behind home plate.
"Hello, Mugsy, see me on the tube? I'm waving. See me? See me?"
I want to smack saps like that with a fish.
The good news is that, though a significant number of readers remain wary of Dodgers games, the vast majority believe the cause is far from lost. A family section was the most popular suggestion. Other ideas ranged from kids' meals to reading club sections to ... umm ... walking wieners (we'll get to that in a minute).
Acoustic-minded fans urged that loud speakers be distributed more evenly around the stadium, and that noted radio crooner Vin Scully be patched in for an inning or two.
Another fan wanted low-fat milk available at concession stands.
Obviously, this Dodgers renaissance is going to be more nuanced than we might have expected.
"I propose that Dodgers create a family section in the stadium that will be heavily policed and allow for a truly family friendly experience," writes William H. Matthews, echoing the thoughts of many. "I understand the difficulty in controlling 56,000 people, and see this as the only solution."
"Bottom line, teams need to decide who they want to sell tickets to — fans or drunks," adds Rebecca Colson.
"I suggest that Walter, Kasten, et al., make like Wrigley Field and hire 60-somethings as ushers," suggests Donn Risolo. "My wife and I visited Wrigley for the first time a couple of seasons ago, and all of the ushers we encountered were pleasant retirees. They were able-bodied, responsive, happy to answer questions and alert enough to serve as the dreaded Dutch uncle if there was the hint of a flare up in the stands."
The new kids' meals "can come on a special Dodgers-themed tray," suggests Jerry Kazdoy. "With a mini-Dodger Dog, some peanuts, a small drink, and of course a toy such as a little Dodgers bat, ball, helmet, pennant, pack of cards, action figure, etc., to keep the little buggers busy during the game."
Two issues were mentioned over and over by fans: the too-loud rock music and the too-loud overdrinking goons.
"The [walk-up] music that caters to individuals and is shoved down everyone's throats drives me sideways," says Chris Contreras
"It's impossible to police boorish behavior throughout a sports stadium these days — it's just the state of our society today," writes Tim Forbes. "And if you try and create sanctuaries, in the form of 'family sections' or any similar portion of the stadium that bans alcohol, those that do drink responsibly are punished to a certain extent if they sit there (what's a ballgame without a frosty one?).
"So I'm taking the opposite approach. Let's quarantine the foul-mouthed, leather-lung fans. Reserve a chunk of sections and label it "Rowdy Crowd" seating (or any other well-spun euphemism for fans that have no social graces). Promote it as the place to be for those that want to really let it all out and get behind their team."
I think they've tried this, Tim; it's called the county jail.
On the chronic parking complaints, fans Ron Baida and Howard Turner were on the same wavelength. Both suggested adding guideposts with the names of past Dodgers greats — the Koufax zone, the Drysdale zone — so fans could remember where they parked.
As always, concessions came under attack, mostly for the long waits, occasionally as cash registers sit unmanned.
"Nothing could be a greater embarrassment than the 13-inch garage sale TVs above some of reserve level concessions," says Juan Zamora.
"The only thing I could think of to make it more family friendly is to have a Dodger Dog as a mascot," wrote the irrepressible Lolly Hellman, a long-time fan who insists Dodger Stadium is already more family friendly than most places.
A few pragmatists weighed in as well.
"Trips to Dodger Stadium are a rite of passage that groom my kids for the real world," writes Jane Niles. "We would reject the Disneyfication of our happiest place on earth. No coddling, no protective bubble.
"When you head to Dodgertown, you leave your fancy electronic devices at home, tuck your wallet way down in your pocket, and be on the lookout for any stealthy characters or out of control rabble-rousers."
A tad more cheeky, Eric Estrin suggested an "Ear-Plugs and Ponchos Night."
"This promotion would enable kids to avoid hearing obscenities and being soaked by beer," he explains.
Gotta laugh, right? Because this stadium renaissance is going to take a little time.