LA is one of the few cities lucky enough to have not one, but two MLB teams; and this summer, I was lucky enough to see both teams play at home. The Dodgers play in a stadium just outside of Downtown proper that’s accessible by almost any LA highway. The Angeles are a different story. Despite being called The LA Angels of Anaheim, the team plays in neither the city nor the county of Los Angeles. Their stadium is located 30 miles south of Dodger Stadium. They’re far enough away to have their own fan base, but close enough to make purists wish they had kept LA out of their name. Despite the close proximity, the two teams couldn’t be more different.
The Dodgers are a classic American ball club. Originally hailing from Brooklyn, New York, the team has been around since 1890 in one form or another. Their claim to fame (other then their 18 World Series appearances) is being the team that first broke the racial barrier when Jackie Robinson took the field in 1947. The team moved to LA in 1958. Since then they’ve been as essential to LA as the Hollywood sign.
Dodger stadium centers on the team’s rich history. This year the structure celebrates its 50th anniversary, making it the 3rd oldest ballpark still in use. Walking around in it feels like stepping through the five decades it’s existed. The park doesn’t appear to have gone through any major renovations—just little updates here and there. The 50s “modern” vibe is still present. Styles that were seen as futuristic back in the day—most notably the slick Futura typeface—are everywhere. I don’t know if the stadium is trying to be hipster but it certainly succeeds.
The Angels are a thoroughly modern team. After spending time as a minor league squad, they entered the American League in 1962 (at 50, they’re young adults in baseball years). In the late sixties and early seventies the team settled into their current home in Anaheim. From there, they’ve made a habit out of winning; they are the only team with a winning record against the Yankees and have collected rivalries like, well, baseball cards.
Angel Stadium in Anaheim reflects this modern mentality. The place feels like it was constructed yesterday. Everything is shiny and new; I didn’t see a speck of rust in the whole structure. The scoreboards are new, the PA system is fine tuned, and the paths to and from parking are efficient. The only piece of history the stadium seems to flaunt is the sign in center field that displays the years the Angels were champions of their division, but most of those years start with ’20.’
Overall the two parks differ because they’re appealing to different audiences. The Dodgers are Hollywood’s baseball team. Where else would you see Matthew Perry behind the visitor’s dugout? They don’t need to renovate or spice up their ballpark because Dodger Stadium has such a positive, historic connotation a little dust won’t change your mind about anything. The fans are as diverse as LA itself, but typical male sports fans are the primary audience. The Angels need to both convince LA fans their stadium is worth the drive and appeal to the fans in the suburban town of Anaheim. Their main way of doing this is providing an affordable, enjoyable experience. Everything from the fireworks that explode after an Angels home run, to the courteous ushers make you feel at home. It’s no surprise I saw so many families there enjoying a Sunday afternoon game.
If you’re a baseball fan, you have to go to both stadiums. Sure, the Angels are 40 minutes away but the drive is worth it. I hope both teams keep playing well so that maybe this year we could see an LA vs. LA World Series.