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Tailgating a strange rite of spring for Dodgers Stadium neighbors

Opening day headaches part of the deal for Dodgers Stadium neighbors.

It is opening day at Dodger Stadium -- a day that fans have anticipated for months and stadium neighbors have dreaded since the last opening day.

In addition to being the start to the at-home season, it kicks off a season of headaches for the people who live in the surrounding neighborhoods. The annoyances include seemingly random traffic jams on surface streets at rush hour or weekend mornings, drunken pregame tailgating parties raging in adjacent Elysian Park, and trash left everywhere.

Traditionally, opening day is the biggest pregame party of them all, often starting before the sun is fully up. It’s an odd sight to stumble on crowds of people chugging beer and barbequing tri-tip at 8 a.m. on a workday.

If you live within walking distance the stadium, as I do, tailgating is just one of the relatively minor inconveniences that come with the fortune of living so close to a major park. But the partying has gotten a little wild in recent years, with parts of Elysian Park looking like a Hurricane Sandy casualty the morning after a game. So it was nice to hear that the city will be trying new tactics this year.

About five years ago, the LAPD started cracking down on the tailgating and drinking in the park after a particularly violent opening day. This year, the plan is apparently to disperse what has become party central -- the part of the park between Scott and Morton avenues that is bisected by the stretch of Stadium Way nicknamed Avenue of the Palms. Parking along this stretch will be prohibited and parking on nearby streets will be subject to two-hour time limits, making life difficult for tailgaters and residents alike.

I don’t begrudge the fans their pregame revelry, and even enjoy the excitement of opening day a little bit, though the public urination and trash is a bit much. How much nicer opening day would be if the Dodgers installed banks of port-a-potties strategically around the park on game days and the city doubled the amount of trash cans around the picnic areas. [Updated 12:36 p.m., April 6: Banks of port-a-potties were sighted this morning, hooray. Extra trash cans, not so much.]

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