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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Couple Of Codas To Camelback Ranch

With respect to this graf from the LAT architectural review of Camelback Ranch:
For the most part, though, there is an aesthetic attitude on display that stops well short of extravagance. Even the walkways that twist across the campus have been arranged with modesty in mind. They meander from the parking lots past a variety of practice fields to the stadium entrance, which is placed behind center field.

That surprising location of the main turnstiles -- at most baseball stadiums, the central entry is behind home plate -- says a good deal about the effect McCourt, White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf and the HKS architects were going for. Because of that decision, you have to walk from your car a bit longer than you expect, which is sure to produce some grumbles on hot late-March afternoons. But when you approach the stadium, the first thing you see is not a looming grandstand but the field itself, which sits 12 feet below ground level.

The orientation means that home plate faces southwest, instead of north or northeast, as is the case in most big-league ballparks. Fans have to put up with a bit more direct sun and glare in the stands as a result. But the trade-off seems more than worth it.

Except that, not so much, especially after you walk past something that looks like it should be an entrance gate. Only then do you realize you need to walk far past not only this but the area that should be home plate — not because the team wanted a sensible, normal direction for ballparks, nor because there was some compelling geographic feature they needed to take advantage of, but strictly for prissy aesthetic reasons that actually work against fan comfort. I mean, assuming Christopher Hawthorne's review is correct and the motivation for that long walk was that big, bitchin' vista from the first base side upon entry, well, jeez, how arrogant can you get? I'd rather we had more shade, thank you.

What I suppose this gets to is that whatever Frank McCourt touches tends to rub the wrong way, and oddly enough (for a parking lot baron), nowhere is that more true than with parking. Now granted, Tuesday's game was a capacity-and-then-some crowd, but with just a tiny bit of foresight and intelligence and even, yes, the same pathetic sense that traffic-problems-end-at-our-borders McCourt exhibits at Dodger Stadium, it could have been mitigated and even made far better.

  1. Hire someone to direct traffic after a game. The current scenario is just pathetic; the light is clearly set up for normal traffic, which is to say, it's a jam waiting to happen.
  2. Re-cone the outbound traffic to three lanes from the default two on exit. You do this going into the game; why not afterwards? Oh, that's right — there's nobody there collecting money. Seriously, Frank, if you could get another $5 to get people out of your goddamn park in a reasonable amount of time, they'd totally do it. This screwing around is just pointless, not to mention dismissive of everyone you invited to your new fancy spring digs.
  3. Alternatively, route people east on Camelback Rd. with signs letting them know they can get around traffic on El Mirage/Indian School. The left turn there, in the absence of traffic direction, is completely stupid. Really.
These are my suggestions; I make them in the spirit of neighborly goodwill, and as a paying customer to the Los Angeles Dodgers Professional Baseball Club, Inc. If the McCourts should seize upon them, hooray; if they don't, I won't hold my breath or be surprised. But I tried, anyway.

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