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Is Dodger Stadium truly dangerous?

Apr 4, 2011, 12:30 PM EDT

Dodger Stadium

The incident at Dodger Stadium on Opening Day has led to a lot of discussion about fan safety, but for some people who are familiar with Dodger Stadium, this is not a new problem. Here’s freelancer Paul Oberjuerge:

Aside from what appears to be the seriousness of the victim’s injuries, what is new about this?

It may be a dirty little secret, nationally, where the perception is that Dodgers fans are ultra-mellow. You know, “they come late and leave early!” thing. Too cool for school. In point of fact, Dodger Stadium has been filled with dozens, maybe even hundreds of thugs almost every game for years now. Obscenity-spewing, tatted-up gangsters, often-drunk, who can ruin a game for anyone in their vicinity.

They are particularly common in the pavilions and the top deck, but almost no part of the stands are safe, aside from the most expensive seats on the field level.

Yikes. I’ve only been to one Dodgers game in my life. I sat in the upper deck down the third base line where, according to Oberjuerge, the rabble like to rouse.  It was a weekend night and the beer was flowing, but I can’t say it felt hostile in any way. It just seemed like a lot of passionate fans were up there, not unlike the kind you’d see at many east coast stadiums, contrary to the popular stereotype of the L.A. baseball fan.

Was I just there on a good night? Is Oberjuerge right? Is Dodger Stadium a hostile place?  I have no idea.  The tale used to be that guards and ushers at Dodger Stadium were always smiling but always ruthless, enforcing a shiny happy code of conduct on people, turning the place into a somewhat scary but totally safe — maybe unnaturally safe and even sterile — playground.

Has this changed? I’m curious to hear from those of you who frequent Chavez Ravine of what the lay of the land is at Dodger Stadium these days. And how it compares to the Alston-Lasorda years.

  1. b7p19 - Apr 4, 2011 at 12:36 PM

    This could not possibly be true. Bad things only happen in Philadelphia…

    • Jonny 5 - Apr 4, 2011 at 12:40 PM

      A new record!!!

      • b7p19 - Apr 4, 2011 at 12:53 PM

        Thank you, but really it could have happened to anybody. I was just in the right place at the right time.

      • Jonny 5 - Apr 4, 2011 at 12:57 PM


    • joshuavkidd - Apr 4, 2011 at 12:58 PM

      dripping with sarcasm.. i love it! Lets talk about how bad it is to throw snow balls at santa now since everyone loves that! even 40 years later

  2. mcs7584 - Apr 4, 2011 at 12:42 PM

    I live in flyover country. Two summers ago, my wife and I hopped on board an LAX-bound Allegiant Air flight for an extended weekend. We went to a Dodgers game. They happened to be playing the Giants. Despite the nature of the rivalry, I was appalled at the level of behavior. We spent more time watching security excort people out of the stadium than we did actually watching the game. Granted, I was sitting in the left field pavillions which, as Craig points out, is where the rabble like to rouse.

    At the time, I wondered why the pavillions had separate entrances from the rest of the ballpark. In fact, we were disappointed that we could tour the rest of the stadium. Now I understand why those fans are corralled like cows. Mad cows, that is.

    Stay classy, Dodger fans.

    • mcs7584 - Apr 4, 2011 at 2:04 PM

      Should read ” … couldn’t tour the rest of the stadium.”

    • simon94022 - Apr 4, 2011 at 4:40 PM

      The O’Malleys ran the Dodgers for 40 years as a family-friendly model franchise. Everything went downhill when they sold the team, shortly after the Raiders went back to Oakland. That opened the door for the gangland trash to make Dodger Stadium their new playground.

    • Bob Timmermann - Apr 5, 2011 at 10:07 AM

      All of the sections at Dodger Stadium have had discrete entrances making it nearly impossible to move from section to section since the stadium opened in 1962.

  3. mattraw - Apr 4, 2011 at 12:45 PM

    That Opening Day incident was horrible, and the Dodgers definitely need to do what they can to be sure nothing like that happens again. However, I can’t help but note how many of these reaction pieces are quick to point fingers at the perceived “gangster element” of the Dodgers fanbase, when what they clearly mean is “blacks and Latinos who aren’t wearing a suit and tie.” Oberjuerge himself says the Dodgers ‘need to turn away “fans” wearing gang-style clothes or tattoos.”

    • Jonny 5 - Apr 4, 2011 at 12:56 PM

      It seems you are saying, no…… You are screaming that gangsters are only Black and Latino. That’s a terrible form of stereotyping that leads to racism when you start throwing that out there. And I thought all gangsters were Italian…….

      • heyblueyoustink - Apr 4, 2011 at 1:28 PM

        Mobsters, not gangsters

      • mattraw - Apr 4, 2011 at 1:59 PM

        No, not screaming anything, just observing. If one of Oberjuerge’s proposed solutions to preventing this from happening is to target “gang-style clothes and tattoos,” presumably that means he believes fans with tattoos and baggy pants present a threat based only on their personal appearance.

      • JBerardi - Apr 4, 2011 at 2:49 PM

        “You are screaming that gangsters are only Black and Latino. That’s a terrible form of stereotyping that leads to racism when you start throwing that out there.”

        Yeah, no one in America has ever made any assumptions about the racial background of “gangsters” before this post.

      • Jonny 5 - Apr 4, 2011 at 3:02 PM

        Hey, he mentioned no race. Plenty o white guys “all tatted up”, drunk, wearing baggie pants, raising hell too.

        Hey, one thing. Men. That’s the common denominator in all of these situations. Blame a race? it doesn’t hold water. Blame a fanbase? nope, it doesn’t hold water either. Blame men? Bingo.

        I saw the “demonstrations” by the angry muslims which seem more like Lynching for some reason. All men.

      • Jonny 5 - Apr 4, 2011 at 3:07 PM

        “Yeah, no one in America has ever made any assumptions about the racial background of “gangsters” before this post.”

        So, let’s keep up the good work you’re saying?

      • db105 - Apr 4, 2011 at 4:06 PM

        It’s obvious as to who the problem is. But most people don’t or can’t say what is true. It is true that only a few cause the problems but there are plenty there with the strong potential for problems. The profile of the problem is a reality that many are afraid to admit.

    • whomod - Apr 6, 2011 at 3:12 AM

      Remarkable. I knew a comment like this was certain to bring out the ole PC brigade. Now as a Mexican American, i can safely attest to the fact that i have NEVER been confused for a gang member or a thug. It’s all about presentation. Now people with shaven heads, tattoos and menacing countenances do all this not because ‘they’re born that way’ but because they want to project a menacing and tough image. And thus if you want to be seen as a menace then you need to own all the consequences of that. Which would include being profiled at Dodgers stadium and being routinely pulled over by cops.

  4. Jonny 5 - Apr 4, 2011 at 12:52 PM

    I don’t know. What do I think of this entire incident? Sh!t happens is what I think. Say 45,000 people go to the grocery store every Sunday. What are the chances that none of them have something terrible happen to them during the year ? Very slim to none.. A couple a-holes who think it’s cool to bash someone’s head in doesn’t mean “Dodgers stadium is dangerous”. It means two a-holes are running loose in the area that need to be brought to justice. Let’s see the Justice system spend as much time and effort finding these idiots as spent on Bonds, who didn’t put anyone into a coma.

    • b7p19 - Apr 4, 2011 at 12:58 PM

      Are you suggesting that assaulting someone is worse that taking steroids? And you call yourself an American?!

  5. yankeesfanlen - Apr 4, 2011 at 12:58 PM

    Anybody ever to the neighborhood of Yankees Stadium in the 70’s? What a bunch of wimps!

    • citynative - Apr 4, 2011 at 1:04 PM

      Sorry Len, but your ESPN-hyped Yankees/Red Sox rivalry and 70’s memories aside, but no rivalry in baseball, brings more violence to the games than Giants v. Dodgers. Sad, but true.

  6. SmackSaw - Apr 4, 2011 at 1:02 PM

    The upper decks and the pavilions have been rowdy (i.e.; bad) for years. In the mid 1970’s it was impossible to take a family and sit in those sections. This is nothing new.

  7. bosshogg3 - Apr 4, 2011 at 1:13 PM

    I can’t say it happens every game but it’s not uncommon for a fight to break out during or after a game. Every year it seems giants fans are getting beat up so what happened on opening day is nothing’s not always tatted up gangsters but we’re used to it in l.a. And won’t stop going to games. Go dodgers.

  8. jobooo - Apr 4, 2011 at 1:19 PM

    I saw a 14 year old kid – a dodger fan no less – get pelted with peanuts and beer cups and rescued by security for the high crime of hitting a beachball off the upper deck at dodger stadium.

    I lack the evidence or desire to make comparisons to other stadiums in the league, but dodger stadium sucks.

  9. BC - Apr 4, 2011 at 1:21 PM

    Haven’t been to Dodger Stadium in 19 years, though my cousin says the area around it has tanked badly in the last decade. Then again, the neighborhoods around Yankee Stadium and Citi Field aren’t exactly luxury living, and you don’t hear of problems there. Either they’re covered up, or their owners actually put some $$ into security around the ballpark.

  10. heyblueyoustink - Apr 4, 2011 at 1:24 PM

    As Johnny alluded to, hell, even a agroup of 10,000 is going to have morons in there. It doesn’t matter whether they are tatooed up urbanites with an edge to them or papered up suburban folks hopped up on 5 hour energy and heineken……the solution is a professional security staff and beefed up police presence around the park.

    Now whether or not that is in any California budget at this point is another story, but the solution is easy. You can’t go off pre-judging folks because of how they look or talk…….unless you want to take away a few hundred years of social progress.

    • monsieurbear - Apr 4, 2011 at 1:52 PM

      Frank McCourt is responsible for security on Dodgers property, not the state (California) or the city (Los Angeles).

      • heyblueyoustink - Apr 4, 2011 at 2:03 PM

        Still….Police patrols around the parking lot, especially with that many citizens in the vicinity, would only make common sense, wouldn’t it?

      • monsieurbear - Apr 4, 2011 at 2:53 PM

        Police have no jurisdiction to patrol private property. It’s up to the Dodgers. If the Dodgers want to pay the city for police presence, then fine. But the LAPD has no right or duty to do so otherwise.

      • BC - Apr 4, 2011 at 5:40 PM

        McCourt doesn’t give a crap about the Dodgers or their fans right now. That’s a problem. At least the Wilpons care about the team and fans, even as clueless as they are.

  11. seattlej - Apr 4, 2011 at 1:33 PM

    Somebody was stabbed in the Dodgers Stadium parking lot after the home opener two years ago… which obviously means I would stay away from the 2013 home opener.

    • monsieurbear - Apr 4, 2011 at 1:59 PM

      Opening day at Dodger Stadium is nothing special in the assault-and-battery department. A Giants fan was shot and killed in the Dodgers Stadium parking lot after a game on September 19, 2003.

  12. heynerdlinger - Apr 4, 2011 at 1:41 PM

    I’d love to know what this guy means by “gang-style clothes”. Does he mean Dodgers jerseys? Baseball caps?

    • JBerardi - Apr 4, 2011 at 2:53 PM

      He means they’re brown. The clothes, that is. *cough*.

  13. cur68 - Apr 4, 2011 at 1:44 PM

    Man, when did it stop being a game? Baseball isn’t important an enough an activity to insult someone over let alone nearly kill them. The poor man is a paramedic no less which is really close to home for me. I mean, WTF? Doesn’t spending your working life helping others with trauma grant you some sort of pass on casual violence? A lot of people saw it go down and didn’t intervene. We are taught t in Group Dynamics/Behavior that its common for this sort of thing to happen; when its one or 2 people they almost always help. The bigger the crowd the more people look at others to see what they’ll do first and if no one makes a move to help, they all just stand there. I just wish it wasn’t so. All those bystanders must feel awful about this. That’s how I’d feel if I was in that crowd.

  14. nightman13 - Apr 4, 2011 at 1:56 PM

    If Gary Indiana is the armpit of the United States, LA is the @$$hole.

    There isn’t a body part on any creature that is comparable to Philly though.

  15. micker716 - Apr 4, 2011 at 2:06 PM

    So far, it seems that the majority of the people who have actually attended games in Dodger Stadium agree with the opinion that yeah, it is a dangerous place, particularly in the upper decks. Most of the disagreement seems to be coming from people that have never attended a game there, but see it as just another large crowd of sports fans and all these venues have that element or that racial stereotypes are in play. I’ve lived in SoCal for 15 years, 5 in the LA area, the rest here, in San Diego. I’m a Padres fan. I’ve never been to Dodger Stadium, and probably never will go, because I’ve heard enough first-hand stories from friends and colleagues that convince me that incidents like the opening day assault are not isolated. Too bad, there’s so much history in that place.

    • oldnumero7 - Apr 4, 2011 at 2:36 PM

      Not that anyone deserves to be beaten within an inch of his life, but visiting fans ought to watch their step at road games. You are guests in another team’s house–you’re going to get heckled. Deal with it, be good-natured, and don’t taunt home fans. I doubt the Giants fans who’ve been seriously abused at Dodger Stadium were completely innocent of escalating the situations.

      Football is different than baseball–fewer games dictate that each contest means more, and there’s a more violent, militaristic attitude in the air. I’m a Broncos fan who’s attended games in numerous cities. I love and root for my team, but I always watch my back and I never get into it with drunk homers. There’s nothing positive that can come of it.

      That being said, I’ve never been to a Bronco game in Oakland and I doubt I ever will. Like Mick here, I’ve heard too many horror stories about Raider fans and I choose to just pass.

      • sayheykidwschamp - Apr 4, 2011 at 4:45 PM

        So you don’t agree with someone getting beaten into a coma, but you agree that it is OK for home fans to berate any visiting fan to the point of violence if the visiting fan is, you know, being a fan and supporting their team. But you are too afraid to go to a Raider game and to take your own advice on how to act at a game? Interesting.

  16. whatwouldvindo - Apr 4, 2011 at 2:23 PM

    I’ve been going to games at Chavez Ravine for 30 years and don’t know that I’ve ever been to a game where I haven’t seen a fight in the stands or had to listen to a drunk screaming obscenities (which more than once has been me…but hey, it’s the Dodgers…being a Dodger fan often drives you to drink and scream obscenities). It’s not like they’re not aware of the problem – for a long time they didn’t sell beer in the Pavilion sections, they don’t have beer vendors walking the crowd, and have been pretty anti-tailgate for as long as I can remember. If you try to crack a beer in the parking lot, two guys in a golf cart are on you before you can drop your first f-bomb. Has it helped? Obviously not as much as they would have hoped. Is going to Dodger Stadium as dangerous as the knee-jerks make it out to be? Not by a longshot. I started taking my daughter to games when she was 1 and have never felt like I’m jeopardizing her safety. I lived in the bay area for a long time, and it’s certainly no worse than experiences I had at the Oakland Coliseum or the old Candlestick Park.

    In fact, one of the things I love about being a Dodger fan in the left field bleachers is that fans are passionate. They care about whether or not their team wins 1 game of 162. And no, I’m not equating passion with violence, or condoning what happened. But a handful of incidents that just as easily could have happened in New York or Chicago or Philadelphia don’t accurately reflect an entire fan base or stadium experience. If you want a sterilized experience, drive down the 5 to an Angels game, or head up the coast to that South of Market corporate bandbox and order some garlic fries like the rest of the dbag Giants fans. If you’re afraid of the human experience that comes with large groups of people in confined spaces, stay home.

    • citynative - Apr 4, 2011 at 2:37 PM

      Could you be more wrong? Though you mentioned the opposite, violence does not equal passion. Half of the people in the pavilion would not know who the Dodgers 5th starter is. It is widely known that the Giants fan base is more intense about the rivalry than the Dodgers fan base for good or for bad.

    • tomemos - Apr 4, 2011 at 5:29 PM

      Dodgers fans are so passionate that they show up in the 3rd and leave in the 7th, so as not to exhaust their supply of passion.

  17. oldnumero7 - Apr 4, 2011 at 2:28 PM

    I’m not into the generalizing that Oberjuerge uses here, but I’ve been to about a dozen MLB parks and the only place I ever worried about my safety was Dodger Stadium. There are a number of rough dudes that hang out there, guys that don’t just go to enjoy a game but are actively looking for trouble.

    And lest one thing this is purely racial, I’ve been to plenty of games at Fenway and even at Wrigley where white guys acted the same way. They’d get tanked, hang out in the bleachers, hurl insults at players and other fans, and throw down if anyone looked at them crossways. Luckily Fenway is better now–they’ve beefed up security, tickets are harder to come by and crazy expensive, and these goons are fewer and farther between.

    There’s no place for this kind of behavior at baseball games, regardless of the intensity of the rivalry. I think the Dodgers need to be a lot more vigilant about cracking down both in the park and outside, because there is a climate of violence at that place.

  18. juicejuicer - Apr 4, 2011 at 2:31 PM

    Violence is going to happen anywhere you go. These THUGS need to be found and put away for a long time for their henious act. Dodgers Stadium has unfortunately become a place where, if you go looking for trouble, you will find it. Not saying that the guy that took a beating was looking for it, but I did see ALOT of alcohol flowing and much more back-and-forth banter between Dodgers and Giants fans on Thursday – we were there.
    Personally, I have been going to the Ravine for many years. I now take my 8-yr old son on a regular basis. We average about 20 games per season. Not ONCE have I encountered a problem. We go, enjoy the game and work our way home. If you just watch the game, enjoy in the happenings going on around you and don’t engage anyone in particular, you have nothing to worry about, Honestly, the most dangerous part about the Ravine is dodging the cars in the parking lot after the game. Anybody that’s ever been can attest to the fact something needs to be done about the parking situation.

    • sayheykidwschamp - Apr 4, 2011 at 4:40 PM

      I assume you are wearing Dodger blue when you go with your son. Well, that is not the point or the issue. The problem is safety of visiting fans.

    • tomemos - Apr 4, 2011 at 5:31 PM

      “Violence is going to happen anywhere you go.”

      Well, then show us the people who are getting beaten within an inch of their lives, or stabbed, in other stadiums.

    • garlicfriesandbaseball - Apr 5, 2011 at 12:46 PM

      Unreal. “Not saying the guy that took a beating was looking for it???” Read my blog and the Sentinel article in it which will tell you a little bit about this guy. He definitely was NOT “looking for it”.

      Geez. Sorry about the parking situation. Just one crisis after another…..

  19. jeffa43 - Apr 4, 2011 at 2:33 PM

    I have been to a hundred Doijer games in the last 10-12 years… It was pretty clear things were gettting bad a decade ago.. It has to be a good 25% gang members and thugs…

    No joke, if you are wearing an opposing teams colors, just remain quiet, or you will be asking for it. That is the way I have viewed it for the last few years. For anyone to say this is a family enviroment, is a not telling the truth, or workng for the Doijers.

    You with out a doubt need to watch your back at this stadium. Every Doijer home game is exactly like a Charger Raider game… The FBI could hang out there, and sweep up half of its most wanted.

  20. Chris Fiorentino's Rash - Apr 4, 2011 at 3:21 PM

    This is not Dodger Stadium related. In 20 something years the only fight I have ever seen at or around a baseball game (involving fans) was in 2009 at a Yankees vs Braves SPRING TRAINING game at Steinbrenner Field. And it was over spilt water.

    • yankeesfanlen - Apr 4, 2011 at 3:27 PM

      That’s right….if they had been drinking beer that never would have happened.
      Remember what W. C. Fields said about water.

  21. thefalcon123 - Apr 4, 2011 at 3:48 PM

    I once witnessed a crowd of Mets fan encircle, boo and throw s**t at a 12-year-old girl because she had the gall to cheer loudly for Yadier Molina when he came up to the plate at a game in Citi Field. Being passionate is one thing, being a d**k is inexcusable.

  22. NickT - Apr 4, 2011 at 3:49 PM

    I go to Dodger Stadium several times a year, and it is easily the worst experience of any MLB park. The fans are part of the problem (beach balls, throwing things at people that take beach balls out of play, cursing, etc.), but I don’t feel unsafe while inside the stadium (I take my Cubs cap off when I walk to the car, though).

    My biggest problem is with the way the Dodgers run the place. I am not the type to send complaint letters, but I’ve done that with the Dodgers. Two examples:

    1) I went to the same-day ticket sales booth 20 minutes before the first pitch and had to wait 30 minutes to get to the front of the line (only two windows out of ~five were open), and when I got to the front I said, “Give me your cheapest available ticket.” The ticket guy gave me two options, one for $45 and one for $60. I said, “Those are your cheapest tickets?” and he said “Yeah.” After a minute of vigorous discussion, I finally was able to buy an upper-deck ticket for less than $15. I found it disgusting that I had to haggle to get a ticket.
    2) At another game I had field-level tickets and was getting ready to watch the first pitch of the game when a Dodgers photographer walked down the aisle and started taking pictures of people (and then he let them know where they could purchase the pictures later). The photographer had the family in the row in front of me stand up for the picture. All this was going on through the first 3-5 pitches of the game. I’m actually not sure how many pitches I missed because I couldn’t see anything with people standing in front of me at the request of the Dodgers employee.

    FYI, I never got a response from the Dodgers after I complained via email.

  23. mentalotherhalf - Apr 4, 2011 at 4:02 PM

    The upper decks at the ravine are a less civil, potentially more dangerous atmosphere than the field level seats. I’ve heard numerous fans I didn’t otherwise know or speak to joke about the rowdiness and sometimes disturbing violence of the fans in the upper decks. Last year, I also saw arrests made there over brief, violent altercations–more than I saw at Yankee stadium in comparable numbers of visits during the 1990s.

    All of that is subjective, though, and readily dismissible.

    However, the current debate over Dodgers Stadium safety begs attention to the intersection of Dodgers and L.A. gang culture. The interlocking L.A. insignia is a now-well-established trope in gang parlance. It’s flashed as a gang sign; it’s among the most common prison and gang tattoos. The gangs it’s most-readily affiliated with change upon occasion, but creeps have been co-opting the otherwise-benign branding for decades. I know this happens to some extent in most major cities, but the problem is especially pronounced in Los Angeles.

    It’s easy to see–even on television broadcasts, but especially in person–that large numbers in attendance at Dodgers game have little or no interest in the game itself, and quite a lot more investment in their memberships in groups that promote violence and other garbage that doesn’t belong at ballgames.

    Hopefully, Los Angeles will once again have a football team soon, and it will siphon off some of that cultural detritus. Of course, I’d prefer if these social trends would simply reverse, as opposed to shifting elsewhere, but what I’ve read and heard from friends who work with these sorts of things is that gang affiliation has been on the rise in Los Angeles for about ten years, and gang violence has risen sharply since the expiration of the Brady bill. So, I suspect things will get worse before they get better.

  24. hbrules - Apr 4, 2011 at 5:01 PM

    Dodger Stadium; Enter At Your Own Risk! On game night Dodger Stadium is the most dangerous place to be in the city! As soon as you enter the parking lot until you sit down, civilized Americans encounter for the first time uncivilized gang members! You have to deal with drunk low life who swear, harass, and assault anyone they dont like! Its like being in a soccer stadium in Mexico where you only see young thugs in the stands and not women or children! The O’Malley tradition of a family friendly ballpark is gone forever as McCourt , the new owner, caters to these thugs with half price beer nites and all you can eat in the bleachers nites!

  25. schmedley69 - Apr 4, 2011 at 8:13 PM

    I thought that the great, big Dodger in the sky was always watching over Chavez Ravine? I always knew that Lasorda was full of crap.

    Anyway, the only solution to this problem is to stop selling beer at the games. The riff raff will stay away and get their buzz on somewhere else.

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