I've been a Dodger fan my entire life, having been born and raised in the Los Angeles area and moving to the Conejo Valley in the mid 1990s.
When I was a kid, my dad would take us to the game a couple times each season. We sat in the cheapest seats and on our way there would stop by McDonald's or In-N-Out Burger and bring food into the stadium.
Today, while still fans of the Dodgers, we rarely go to games. Just too many other things going on in our life. But I decided it would be fun to take the kids on a Saturday night.
BUYING TICKETS ONLINE
Plenty of tickets are available, but I had moderate sticker shock at the prices. The cheapest seats on the Dodgers ticketing website were $28 + $6.50 "Convenience" fee (whatever that means) and a $5.10 "Processing" fee. It certainly would be nice if all online ticket sellers just have one "all in" price that clearly shows the total price.
I was amazed at how terrible the Dodgers' ticketing website is, compared to other sites like StubHub and SeatGeek. They make you run Flash and don't provide a view from the seats like the other sites do.
In any case, I reviewed multiple alternatives to the Dodgers' ticketing website and went with StubHub. StubHub adds a service fee and a fulfillment fee to ticket prices. These fees vary based on event and ticket type. For the Dodgers game, the service fees were in the 23-25% range and fulfillment fees were $2. Factoring these fees in, StubHub still had the best overall prices for comparable seats out of the options I looked at.
PICKING THE SEATS
I was taking three kids to the game and my cheapest alternative were seats way, way up high in the Top Deck or Reserve areas. I didn't really want to be that high up, so I looked at the alternative of the bleacher seats.
I'm not a fan of bleacher seats as they are just that - long benches with numbered seatbacks - no individual seats. I'm that guy who is annoyed the entire flight on a plane where the guy next to me's arm intrudes on my space. So bleacher seats probably are not the best idea for me.
But on second thought, we're only talking two to three hours and the kids would enjoy it. How bad could it be, right? So I decided to look at seats in the Coca-Cola All You Can Eat Right Field Pavilion. They were about $20 to $25 more than the seats in the Left Field Pavilion, but ALL YOU CAN EAT sounded like a fun option with the kids.
THE ALL YOU CAN EAT PAVILION
If it were me and a buddy, I would not sit in the Coca-Cola All You Can Eat Pavilion because, well, I'm not big into gorging myself. But hey, I was with the kids, and thought it would be fun to just let em at it and not worry about cash. And indeed it was fun.
A few things to note. We are not talking about a gourmet selection in this deal. We're talking Dodger Dogs, nachos, peanuts, popcorn and non-alcoholic beverages (soft drinks, iced tea and water). No ice cream, churros, cotton candy or beer (though those were available for sale). And no pizza, hamburgers or other food items. One pizza vendor walked by around the 7th inning; I suppose he was desperate to unload them at that point.
Is the All You Can Eat Pavilion worth it? Well it comes down to numbers. If you were to consume one Dodger Dog (cost is $6.50), one bag of peanuts ($5 estimate) and one drink ($6 insanely expensive), you are consuming $17.50 of Dodger Stadium cuisine. Throw in one other item, like another hot dog or nachos, and you've pretty much broken even on the deal.
Two of the three kids with me "broke even." So I had to personally make up for the third kid's under-consumption. Indeed I was hungry on the drive from Thousand Oaks to Dodger Stadium, so I was prepared for the challenge. In fact, I went for a run that morning to ensure my metabolism was raring to go.
My take: 3 Dodger Dogs (really closer to 2 1/2 as I couldn't finish the 3rd one), 1 iced tea (refilled once), 2 bags of peanuts (I brought one home) and 2 bags of popcorn. Ignoring the refill, I think I devoured about $46 retail value in food.
Of course consuming all that salty food might make one thirsty. I woke up the next morning with a very dry mouth. And I certainly got my money's worth the night before so it was worth it. Kind of.
I had fond memories of Dodger Dogs going back to my childhood. They were great back then. But these Dodger Dogs were lukewarm at best and had kind of a metallic taste to them. I find the hot dogs at Costco, for $1.50, INCLUDING drink, to be more fulfilling.
The popcorn I thought was actually pretty good for pre-bagged popcorn. The peanuts were quite salty. The nachos were meh, not particularly good, according to the kids.
THE BLEACHER SEATS
They weren't that bad. It was fun. The crowds were pretty mellow and there were a lot of families/kids out there.
There is zero room between your legs and knees and the row in front of you, but thankfully we didn't experience too much back and forth of people passing by as we were seated towards the middle of the row.
Great view of the field. We had to twist our necks a bit to see the big video screen, but it wasn't too bad.
There's nowhere to place your food and drinks, so you have to kind of balance the food in a tray on your lap. There's no cup holder for the drink. I placed my iced tea under the bench, where it was soon joined by trash. In fact, the amount of trash left by attendees was jaw dropping.
My back was a little tweaked by the end of the game, but I survived. Though the Dodgers lost, the game was entertaining, as was the between-inning on-screen shenanigans. It was a fun night out.
GETTING THERE AND PARKING
I decided to use the Waze app to tell me the best way, factoring in traffic conditions, to get to Dodger Stadium. Without the app, the natural way I would go would be the 101 east to the 134 east to the 5 south.
Waze informed me that I would get there 12 minutes faster from Newbury Park via the 23 north to the 118 east to the 5 south to the 134 east to the 2 south to the 5 south. Yep, a bit out of the way, but it worked like a charm. A very stress-free drive, with minimal traffic.
Going home was much more direct - 5 north to 134 west, then 101 west. If you find yourself in the right-hand lane on Stadium Way coming out of Dodger Stadium, you will be forced to go on the 5 south. Whoops, wrong way! But if you do find yourself in this situation, not to worry. Continue on the 5 about half a mile and take the Riverside offramp, turn right, then you'll soon see a 5 north onramp.
Parking at the stadium is $25. DO buy a parking pass on the Dodgers ticketing website in advance for $15 to save yourself $10. www.mlb.com/dodgers/ballpark/transportation/parking
Dodger Stadium is just 40 to 60 minutes from the Conejo Valley and is a fun entertainment option for the entire family.
Plenty of seating options are available. The Coca-Cola All You Can Eat Right Field Pavilion is a great option if your family enjoys Dodger Dogs, popcorn, peanuts, nachos and soft drinks.