Dodger Stadium Parking Isn't the Only Weird Thing About Chavez Ravine
One of the more hellish aspects of attending any professional sporting event is the parking. The mind-numbing mass of lots and spaces can make you forget where you left your car. And it will cost an arm and a leg to do it.
Dodger Stadium is the pit of parking hell in Major League Baseball. The payoff, however, can be worth it. Getting to see one of baseball's elite teams in one of its legendary venues is one reason to appreciate the parking odyssey.
That being said, there's more to Dodger Stadium's history — and the history of its parking lot — than you could ever imagine.
Basics About Dodger Stadium
Here are some basic facts about Dodger Stadium to get us started:
- Dodger Stadium opened on April 10, 1962, so it just celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2022.
- It was built at a cost of $23 million, which is around $200 million in today's money.
- The stadium holds approximately 58,000, making it the largest baseball stadium in the world.
- It's the oldest baseball stadium west of the Mississippi and the third-oldest in the U.S. behind Fenway Park and Wrigley Field.
Basics About Dodger Stadium Parking
The Dodger Stadium parking lot is a colossus. During the construction of the parking lot its dimensions were so massive that instead of demolishing an elementary school that sat where the northwest parking lot (third base) now sits, the construction company instead just buried it underneath thousands of pounds of concrete.
The parking lot is made up of 16,000 individual spaces and 30 lots, which can be easily divided into two sections — preferred parking for season-ticket holders and general parking. The preferred parking is pretty amazing, with terraced levels that lead right into specific seats in the stadium. General parking is gonna be more of a hike.
It's a long-held belief that Gate A at Dodger Stadium may also be the gate to hell itself. Avoid it at all costs.
The Battle of Chavez Ravine
The construction of Dodger Stadium and its 30 parking lots came at a very human cost — the displacement of a large number of Mexican-American families who once called the 352 acres that make up Chavez Ravine their home.
Originally slated to be used for public housing, a large majority of the residents of the area took buyouts to leave their land, which had been established as "eminent domain," meaning it would be transferred to public use.
When Brooklyn Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley set his sights on the land, the definition of "eminent domain" came to include a privately funded baseball stadium and "The Battle of Chavez Ravine" ended in 1959, after almost a decade, when the last remaining residents were forcibly removed by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
'Blue Heaven on Earth'
Legendary Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda coined the term "Blue Heaven on Earth" for Dodger Stadium. The place has gained its most fame being used for baseball, but it hasn't been its sole use by a long shot.
Along with being home to five World Series-winning Dodgers teams over the years — the latest in 2020 — the stadium has also played home to a litany of other memorable sporting events and pop culture moments:
- Baseball in the 1984 Olympics and baseball and softball during 2028 Olympics
- MLB All-Star Game in 1985 and 2022
- 2009 and 2017 World Baseball Classic
- Used for filming "drift scenes" with Paul Walker in the 2001 film "The Fast and the Furious"
- Three Tenors concert in 1994 featuring Placido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti and Jose Carrera, watched live on television by 1 billion people worldwide
- Film appearances in "The Naked Gun," "Transformers" and "Spinout" (a 1966 Elvis Presley movie)
- The Beatles concert on Aug. 28, 1966, the first rock concert ever held at Dodger Stadium
- Two sold-out Elton John concerts in 1975 in front of 55,000 fans, with John wearing a sequined Dodger uniform designed by Bob Mackie
- The Jacksons Victory Tour in 1984, with Michael Jackson and all six Jackson brothers, the last time they all performed together
- Pope John Paul II Mass in 1987 in front of an estimated 63,000 people
- Madonna concert in 2008, with surprise guests Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake
Chavez Ravine Stadium Used to Be Home of the Angels
The Los Angeles Dodgers actually shared the stadium with the Los Angeles Angels from 1962 to 1965.
To avoid having to say the name of their crosstown rival (and landlord) all the time, the Angels referred to Dodger Stadium as Chavez Ravine Stadium during their stay.
The Angels eventually moved to their own ballpark in 1966, at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, and changed the team's name to the California Angels.
All About the Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers were the first of two teams in a five-year stretch to flee from the eastern half of the U.S. to the sunny California shores. The Dodgers left Brooklyn in 1958, just ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers, who exited from Minneapolis in 1960.
The Dodgers played their first four seasons in Los Angeles, from 1958 to 1961, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. After they moved into Dodger Stadium in 1962, the team brought instant joy to their new fans.
They won the World Series twice in their first four years in Los Angeles, in 1963 and 1965. They won two more times in the 1980s, in 1981 and 1988, then again during the pandemic-shortened season in 2020.
Who Owns Dodger Stadium's Parking Lot?
Unlike most pro sports stadiums, Dodger Stadium isn't run by a municipality. It's been privately funded and owned since Walter O'Malley flew over Chavez Ravine and decided that was where he wanted to build his team's stadium.
O'Malley and his children, Peter O'Malley and Terry Seidler, owned the team (and the parking lot) from the time it moved to Los Angeles in 1958 until the O'Malleys sold the team to the Fox Entertainment Group in 1998.
Frank McCourt purchased the team from Fox in 2004 and owned it until it was sold in bankruptcy court to the Guggenheim Group, led by lead investor and Hall of Famer Magic Johnson, for $2.5 billion in 2012. Mark Walter, the CEO of the financial services firm Guggenheim Partners, became the controlling owner.
The Dodgers were valued by Forbes at $4.075 billion in 2022 and are the second-most valuable MLB team behind the New York Yankees.
Dodger Stadium's Own Murder Mystery Winds up on Netflix
Perhaps the most amazing story in Dodger Stadium and Dodger Stadium parking lot's history occurred after Juan Catalan was arrested for the murder of 16-year-old Martha Puebla in August 2003.
Catalan's alibi was that he was at a Dodgers game with his 6-year-old daughter. Police dismissed this story as being untrue despite Catalan telling them there was a film crew at the game from the HBO show "Curb Your Enthusiasm" starring Larry David.
Catalan's lawyer tracked down the show's producers and the extra footage from the shoot, which showed Catalan at the game with his daughter and ultimately exonerated him. Catalan was awarded a $320,000 settlement from the city, and his story was made into the 2017 documentary "Long Shot" on Netflix.
Dodgers vs. Giants: A History of Violence in the Dodger Stadium Parking Lot
The rivalry between the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers has transcended baseball and become something much uglier due to several violent incidents in the Dodger Stadium parking lot between fans of the two teams.
- In September 2003, Dodgers fan Pete Marron shot and killed Giants fan Marc Antenorcruz in the parking lot following a late-season game between the two teams. Marron was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to 50 years in prison.
- On March 23, 2011, in what would become the most infamous incident in the parking lot's history, Giants fan Bryan Stow was beaten nearly to death by several Dodgers fans in the parking lot and put into a medically induced coma. He eventually sued the Dodgers for negligence and was award $18 million while two men, Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood, were convicted of assault and sentenced to prison.
Oct. 15, 1988: The Greatest Day in Dodger Stadium History
There is no debate about the greatest moment in Dodger Stadium History. It's Oct. 15, 1988, Game 1 of the 1988 World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the heavily favored Oakland Athletics.
Kirk Gibson's two-run walk-off home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning — his only at-bat of the series — lifted the Dodgers to a 5-4 win. They went on to win the World Series in five games, and Gibson's home run remains one of the greatest moments in MLB history.
Wouldn't have been so bad trying to find your car in the parking lot that night. The funny thing is, some Dodgers fans left the game early to beat the traffic, so they weren't in Dodger Stadium when Gibson hit his heroic shot.
But you can see the brake lights of cars flash as they were listening to Vin Scully make his legendary call. After the call, there were 60 seconds of silence from Scully, who just let the Dodger Stadium crowd tell the story.
Still gives us goosebumps.
Dodger Stadium Is Aging Well
Ready to go to a game at Dodger Stadium? The ballpark was ahead of its time in 1962 and has held up well after 60 years.
It is still one of the greatest stadium gems, not just in baseball, but in any sport around the world. If you haven't been to Chavez Ravine yet, you should put it on your sports bucket list.
You won't be disappointed.