Ah, Opening Night at Angels Stadium!
Dreams of garlic fries, Troutbombs and a straight shot between the outsized red caps to gameplay with little chaos or misdirection in parking due to the Big A's expansive and simple parking grid, just a short hop from the adjacent Interstate.
Oh, but just wait.
A half-hour before last night's game, parking was apparently sold out. Wait, what's that? Parking, sold out? On opening day, at 6:30pm? Clearly there must have been some overflow option and an efficient re-route to that alternative? Maybe a shuttle bus or two and prepaid lanes to accommodate ticketed fans who've paid through the nose and have responsibly budgeted extra time to park and walk to the stadium gates?
It took – wait for it – 90 minutes to secure parking from the moment we pulled off the 5 onto Katella Ave. The parking attendants and traffic police had no information and no clue about alternative parking lots, and as a result, all traffic around the stadium was gridlocked and going nowhere. The gate at the intersection of Gene Autry Way and State College Blvd was shuttered, and not a single sign was posted alerting fans to the fact that the parking lot was oversold. Whaaa...?
When you pay $75 a ticket, and arrive at the stadium 30 min in advance as a ticketed customer, you expect to be able to pay and park in the lot. This was the most egregious parking situation I've encountered at a ballpark in the past 15 years – many degrees worse than parking at Dodgers Stadium, the misery which I thought could not be exceeded. But the Dodgers, knowing well their dubious reputation for parking congestion, have been increasingly focused on improving traffic flow in and out of the stadium.
After considerable frustration in standstill traffic for 30 minutes, my wife ended off dropping me and my six-year-old boy off outside the stadium in the bottom of the first inning while she hunted for options. She did not arrive at our seats in the stadium until the bottom of the third inning after walking 3/4 of a mile from a remote lot beyond the Honda Center. Complete saint, and now not without the mark of saintly punishments!
Suffice to say, we will not be driving again to another game at Anaheim Stadium this year, and we're precisely that sort of passionate Angels-focused family from Los Angeles with disposable income that I assume the Angels are attempting to court by marketing to the greater metro region. We'll stick with the TV and radio broadcasts, thanks. Otherwise, when our rage dissipates, perhaps we'll test parking at Union Station (with its own considerable hassles) and boarding the Angels Express.
Since there's no point in pounding on the table if you can't also bring solutions to it, here are some ideas to improve the (much-debilitated) fan experience:
- parking capacity calibrated to seating capacity (natch)
- priority parking and prepaid lanes for ticketed customers
- posted signage alerting fans to oversold parking
- clear directions to secondary lots if the primary lot is oversold
- tearsheets with maps to secondary parking
- parking shuttles to and from remote lots
- better customer guidance provided to Angels parking staff and Anaheim traffic enforcement
So, how about the rest of you folks? Any trouble with Big-A parking of late? Have things been getting better or worse in your estimates?