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Dodgers fans have their opening say, and it's a mixed bag

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Few dates on the baseball calendar can match a home opener for pomp, ceremony and excitement.

Or, in the case of Dodger Stadium on Friday afternoon, for long lines, crowded concourses and Wi-Fi snafus.

But for the legions of blue-and-white-clad loyalists, what happened in the stands likely rated as nothing more than minor inconveniences compared to what happened on the field, where sloppiness fueled an 8-4 loss to the division-leading San Francisco Giants.

On the reserved level, some in the sellout crowd of 53,493 waited in concession lines for as long as 45 minutes.

Ivonne Sanchez of Los Angeles, who has been coming to Dodgers games for 16 years, clutched a cardboard tray holding nachos and two beers as she shuffled back to her seat high above third base after missing Adrian Gonzalez's solo home run.

"Every opening day is a struggle," she said with a sigh.

George Rivera of Riverside also missed the Dodgers' two fourth-inning runs while standing in a restroom line that crossed the concourse and snaked into the tunnel leading to Section 37.

"I came here when the Giants were hitting," he said. "I thought that would work."

The lines seemed to shrink in relation to the cost of the tickets. On the lower levels, where in some places fans don't even have to leave their seat to order food and drinks, the lines were shorter.

In the right-field corner, Ed Hoechst and Rene Ruiz watched from the new plaza area. There was no waiting at Tommy Lasorda's Trattoria or the nearby bar, even though dozens of fans milled about while watching the game on TV. Try that at home, DirecTV subscribers.

Hoechst and Ruiz passed on the Trattoria — which got rave reviews for both its fare and fair prices (save for the $9.50 glass of Tommy Lasorda wine) — and sat instead on newly installed metal bar stools above the Giants' bullpen. They had great views of any pitcher warming up but were unable to see two of the three outfielders.

"We're the first people to sit here on opening day," said Hoechst, who got to the ballpark more than four hours before game time to make sure he got one of the first-come, first-served seats.

"We're actually late … as far as giving fans access to the bullpen areas like this," said Dodgers President Stan Kasten, who stopped in the plaza on one of the several passes he made around the park Friday. "The fans seem to love it."

They weren't as wild about the Wi-Fi, something Kasten had promised would be state of the art. Johnny Hermida of Long Beach was sitting directly under a Wi-Fi antenna box on the field level but said he could not get online. Others had better luck, although the consensus was that the coverage was spotty at best.

Some fans had a tougher time getting to their seats than getting online. More than five dozen people who purchased tickets on the secondary market were stopped at the turnstiles when the bar codes on their tickets showed up as blocked.

Barry Rudin, owner of Barry's Tickets, said 67 of the 68 fans who called to say they had been turned away were given upgraded tickets and an apology.

There were also problems with some of the ticket-scanning devices during last week's Freeway Series, mainly affecting fans who printed their own tickets. Those problems continued Friday, although James Burns, a Dodgers sales representative supervising the entry gate in right field, said the team took steps toward correcting that by emailing season-ticket holders and asking them to use an MLB mobile app instead.

Security concerns, which plagued the Dodgers-Giant rivalry in the past, also seemed to have been alleviated.

"Every year it's getting better. Every year we get more and more compliments," LAPD Sgt. Scarlett Nuno said. "If I come with my kids, that says a lot."

Nuno was one of six uniformed officers who monitored the crowd above the Giants' bullpen in the right-field plaza while four others stood near the Dodgers' bullpen in left field, where fans slapped their palms and asked to pose for pictures. Dozens more officers walked the concourses.

"The thing about Dodger Stadium," summed up Steven Wollenberg of Silver Lake, "it's a major league experience."

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

Twitter: @kbaxter11

Times staff writers Mike Hiserman and Marisa Gerber contributed to this article.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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