Dodgers get fill of Coliseum
Faced with continuing demand for tickets for the Dodgers’ return to the Coliseum on March 29 despite an early sellout, the club has announced an additional 25,000 tickets will go on sale Saturday, increasing the capacity to 115,000 for the exhibition game against the Boston Red Sox.
That would be the biggest crowd to watch a baseball game. Under the original configuration for the event, being staged in commemoration of the team’s 50th anniversary in Los Angeles, 90,000 seats were put on sale and sold out quickly. Many of the additional tickets will be standing-room only, with people allowed to stand under the arches at the peristyle end and on the grass behind the right-field wall. Tickets also will be sold for peristyle seats.
Ticket prices had been scaled from $25 to $15. Some of the standing-room tickets will have a face value of $10.
“The response has been heartwarming, but not surprising,” Dodgers owner Frank McCourt said Wednesday at a groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the one-day-only field. “Dodger fans are the best.”
Those fans old enough to remember the Dodgers’ four seasons in the Coliseum, their first L.A. home from 1958 through 1961 as they awaited completion of Dodger Stadium, will find the same wacky dimensions that were such a novelty half a century ago, with slight alterations.
The most distinguishing feature, the left-field fence, so close it seemed to be hovering over the pitcher’s shoulder, will be even closer. Back then, it was only 250 feet down the line to the left-field seats, separated from the playing field by a 42-foot-high screen. In those days, however, there was a running track that has since been removed, further shrinking the field. The left-field seats will now be only 200 feet away with a 60-foot screen in front.
Former Dodgers left fielder Wally Moon, the player who best mastered the old screen with home runs that were dubbed “Moon shots,” will be on hand for the game. And he might even take a few shots at the new barrier.
If next month’s game is a sellout, it would break a 49-year-old record, also set by the Dodgers in the Coliseum, also in an exhibition game. In May 1959, a crowd of 93,103 turned out to watch the Dodgers play the defending World Series-champion New York Yankees in a benefit game for Dodgers catcher Roy Campanella, paralyzed in an auto accident the year before.
This year’s game against Boston, the defending World Series champions, will benefit ThinkCure, the Dodgers’ fundraising charity for cancer research at City of Hope and Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. ThinkCure President Janet Clayton estimates that $1 million could be raised from the Coliseum game. The Dodgers will match the final total.
The team will make an entire day of the event with a fan festival beginning at noon, featuring activities for the whole family outside the stadium. Gates will open at 4:10 p.m., three hours before the first pitch, to allow fans to watch batting practice, which, considering the field, could be the most entertaining part of the evening.
Asked if a return to the Coliseum could become an annual event, McCourt was hesitant.
“Dodger Stadium is the home of the Dodgers,” he said. “We are simply pausing for a day to remember this is where it all started.”