LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Los Angeles Dodgers will play their home opener today against the San Francisco Giants amid efforts to reduce congestion around Dodger Stadium and the second set of enhancements to the 52-year-old stadium in two years.
The team has added parking spaces; reopened the Scott Avenue entrance; restriped many lots; modified circulation patterns; improved signage; and added bike racks to encourage fans to bicycle to Dodger Stadium.
The efforts at reducing congestion also include a $5 reduction in the price of a general parking pass to $10 when it is purchased in advance.
``The Dodgers have worked with traffic flow experts during the off- season,'' team senior vice president of external affairs Renata Simril said.
``We are implementing several recommendations in hopes of improving our vehicular and pedestrian access. It is important to get our fans in and out of the stadium as quickly and efficiently as possible.''
In an attempt to improve service on the Dodger Stadium Express bus from Union Station, an eastbound dedicated bus lane on Sunset Boulevard has been added in an attempt to provide for a quicker departure of buses.
Enhancements to the stadium, the third oldest in the major leagues behind Boston's Fenway Park and Chicago's Wrigley Field, include:
-- expansion of the entries at the field level, enabling all fans with pavilion, dugout, field, loge and club tickets to enter at entrances in the north side of the stadium;
-- two 25,000-square foot plazas in right and left field. A fenced walkway will enable fans to move between the right and left field plazas;
-- seating and lounging areas at bars and drink rails overlooking the bullpens in the outfield;
-- a dedicated pedestrian entrance at the stadium's main entrance at Sunset Boulevard, with new lighting, designed to encourage fans to use parking lots 13 and 14 along Stadium Way and the route 2 and 4 buses along Sunset Boulevard;
-- a team store in the left field plaza; a New Era cap store in the right field plaza; areas to buy Hello Kitty merchandise in both outfield plazas; a Nike store on the loge level; Majestic jersey stores in the left field reserve level and the Lexus Dugout Club lobby; and
-- what the team describes as a ``state of the art'' wireless system.
Like with most every season, there will be new food options at Dodger Stadium.
Tommy Lasorda's Italian Trattoria, in the right field plaza, will have Italian-inspired fare, including pizza by the slice made with fresh dough, Italian sausage with peppers and onions. Lasorda and other former Dodger players will spend time with fans there.
The Think Blue BBQ will be in the left field plaza, with barbecue beef brisket sandwiches and grilled turkey legs.
The LA extreme bacon wrapped dog will be available at the extreme loaded hot dog stands. The major league nachos helmet with 64 ounces of crispy tortilla chips will be available on the field, loge and reserve levels.
Opening day pregame entertainment will begin at 10 a.m. The Dixieland band Angel City will play in the left field reserve plaza and The Trip will perform classic rock music in the right field reserve plaza.
In the left and right field pavilion plaza areas there will be balloon makers, face painters, caricature artists and the opportunities to take pictures with Dodger memorabilia, including 5-foot diameter World Series rings, an 8-foot replica of the Rawlings Gold Glove Award, and interactive replicas of the 76 ball and various bobbleheads. ``Sweet'' Lou Johnson will sign autographs in the left field pavilion plaza area and fellow former Dodger outfielder Kenny Landreaux will sign autographs in the right field pavilion plaza area.
On-field pregame ceremonies will begin at noon. The USC Trojan Marching Band will perform and a special video will be shown. Representatives from the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard will present the colors. California Highway Patrol officers and cadets will join members of all five branches of the armed forces in unfurling a giant flag in center field.
The U.S. Navy parachute team, the Leap Frogs, will perform an aerial jump into Dodger Stadium from a C-130 aircraft. The national anthem will be performed by the LA Opera trio of James Creswell, Joshua Guerrero and Stephen Powell. Lasorda will start the game by declaring, ``It's time for Dodger baseball.'' Former Dodger broadcaster Ross Porter will be the public address announcer.
The team did not disclose the identity of the person who will throw the ceremonial first pitch. The honor went to Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax last year.
The 1:10 p.m. game is sold out. The team is encouraging the fans to carpool, arrive early and utilize the transportation alternatives that serve Union Station and connect them to the Dodger Stadium Express, whose service will begin at 10 a.m. and continue through 45 minutes after the game. Auto and stadium games will open at 10 a.m.
The Los Angeles Police Department will enforce the policies against drinking alcohol and tailgating in Dodger Stadium's parking lots, including using its Bike Patrol, Officer Bruce Borihanh said.