Recently, I made my annual pilgrimage to the Big A, for the day-game against Oakland. Bartolo Colon made sure the game wasn't one to remember, but it did give me a chance to look around the stadium, in the light of any possible rebuild/renovation.
Full disclaimer here - I only go once a year, and thanks to the generosity of my friends at the Orange County Visitor and Convention Bureau, I get to sit in the Diamond Club seats, just behind and to the left of Home Plate. So I cannot complain about the view, service or amenities of my own seats. (Alright, that was a disclaimer, a shout-out and a bit of showing off, rolled into one.)
Anyway, I did wander around the other sections, and let me say to start off, it's a pretty good stadium by world standards. I've been to several iconic sports venues overseas, the likes of Lords Cricket ground in London, Wembley Stadium, Eden Park in Auckland, and the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Australia, and with the exception of the latter (which is as close to perfect as a sports stadium can be) the Big A holds it's ground quite well. Yes, it needs an overhaul. The seats could be better, and the concrete beneath them is looking tired, but in terms of access to facilities like washrooms, bars and food vendors, it's better than average.
A couple of things that could improve, then.
Traffic flow around the concourses would be vastly better if they were just a couple of feet wider. There's bottlenecks, notably around the high-end merchandise stalls (signed bats and balls etc.)
The washrooms, although plentiful and well-spaced around the stadium, need better and more frequent servicing. It's not good when the Men's runs out of hand tissues before the first pitch, and by the 7th inning stretch, they were, to be frank, filthy. It's probably just a case of hiring more staff to clean them. Disneyland can't possibly employ all the janitors in Anaheim, can it?
I'm not sure how this affects most regular patrons, but for the ones like me who don't drive to the stadium, more public transport options would be great. We took a cab there, and the ART "Angel's Express" back, as we were staying in the Disney area. It was easy enough, but from past experience, several designated cab ranks and/or more regular buses post-game would improve access immeasurably.
As for the in-field experience, I'd love to see the Big A itself, or a new version of it, incorporated into any new design. It's such an iconic part of the park, that to only see it on entry and exit seems a shame. Same with the Gene Autry statue, which I only found by virtue of being a smoker. History is such a part of baseball, and it would be wonderful to see more of it, when you're scanning the field to avoid looking too hard a terrible fielding performance....
So, overall, it's a good stadium, but could be a great one with a few tweaks. I give the Big A a B+, or an A- if they cleaned up the bathrooms. One final note - I firmly believe that whatever happens, it needs to happen in Anaheim, not L.A. I'd rather spend my time looking for a scarce taxi or a clean washroom there, than in Chavez Ravine, any day of the season. And don't get me started on "Buttercup."
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