Friday, February 14, 2014

A Friday Dodgers News Dump - Parking Rate Increase, Wireless and TV Programming

I've heard about a phenomena called a Friday News Dump.  Usually, it's something an organization does top hide some dire news that they want folks to quickly forgot.  So, they announce bad news on Friday in hopes that spending the weekend with family will cause your memory to fade.

Well, we got a plethora of news regarding the Dodgers today, but it's not exactly all bad.  So, I hardly consider this your typical Friday News Dump.  Still, it's notable that news like a parking lot price increase (even one fairly minor, for now) would come out on Friday, and on a Valentine's Day.

Also, there's news below related to some improved wireless services at Dodger Stadium and Dodgers programming at SportsNet LA.

I Should Have Known

When they charged $20 for general parking at the recent Stadium Series hockey game at Dodger Stadium, I should have known that it would be an obvious sign that a price increase was due for Baseball games.

All morning, there had been rumblings about a parking increase, and now word of that is officially out.  Don't worry, though, it's really not as bad as you might think... Or, is it

General admission parking at the gate will cost fans $15.00; which is a $5.00 increase over last season.  But, the parking price remains $10.00 if you purchase parking in advance.  Also, the Dodgers also will offer premium parking in advance at $35 and for $50 at the gate.  You can go here to purchase parking tickets.

Per a Dodger press release:
The Dodgers are continuing to study other transportation improvements and parking enhancements to improve ingress and egress and will have a few new initiatives in place at the opening of the season. Among the changes for the 2014 season are:
  • Restriping the many lots, modifying circulation patterns and improved on-site signage.
  • Added bike racks to encourage bicycles as an alternative mode of transportation to Dodger Stadium
  • Enhance and promotion of the use of public bus on Sunset Boulevard and better marketing at the Metro Gold Line Chinatown and Red Line Hollywood Stations
  • More and clearer way-finding signage directing traffic to underutilized gates
  • Additional on-site parking spaces
"The fan experience is of paramount importance to the Dodgers," said Dodgers' President & CEO Stan Kasten. "We have been examining ways to improve our traffic flow at Dodger Stadium. We feel one of the best ways to expedite movement through the auto gates is for fans to have a prepaid parking pass when they arrive at Dodger Stadium. Transaction times will be improved."
They claim that this is done to tackle a bottleneck that occurs when cars are trying to get into the stadium.  So, raising prices at the gate, or forcing folks to purchase lower cost tickets online, will naturally reduce that aspect of the Dodger game traffic headache.

Per Eric Stephen at True Blue LA:
"The main bottleneck we have is transaction time at the gate. Last season in September we experimented with free parking for carpools, but it didn't have any impact at all," Dodgers CEO and president Stan Kasten said on Friday. "We are encouraging as many fans as possible to get your parking passes in advance, either online or on your phone on the way to the ballpark. If you do that, we can zip you right through.
Kasten also goes on to say that this is not a scheme to generate greater revenue.

On the face of it, these are reasonable assertions.  Basic economics tell you that there is a price point that forces folks to respond in a particular manner.  In this case, raising the prices at the gate should have the effect of forcing fans to carpool.  Likewise, fans paying for parking ahead of time should also theoretically be more likely to plan ahead for carpooling.  Both economic motivations could very well reduce the number of cars and cause a zero-sum gain, as result.

My concern, though, is that it won't stop there.  As evidenced by the recent hockey game and $20 general parking prices charged, I suspect we will eventually see rates increase another $5.00 across the board.

After all, the real traffic headache is not getting into the stadium (which this price increase is meant to address), it's getting out.  So, I expect that once this rate increase is accepted by the masses a new rate increase will be instituted thereafter.

When that happens, they will say it should lower the car count and make getting home after the game easier.  Oh... and by the way, this is not a scheme to generate greater revenue.


Wireless services has just taken a small step forward.  Apple's iBeacon technologyhas just been installed at Dodger Stadium and Petco Park (Padres).  This is great news for iPhone users who have downloaded At The Ballpark app.

Per a press release:
MLBAM today announced it has completed installation of Apple's iBeacon technology at the first two of more than 20 Major League Baseball ballparks that will use iBeacon technology for Opening Day of the 2014 season. With 65 iBeacons affixed throughout Petco Park and Dodger Stadium, the two ballparks have become the first sports venues in the world permanently equipped with iBeacon, a technology introduced with iOS 7 that uses Bluetooth Low Energy and geofencing for micro-location awareness.
Baseball fans will be able to utilize iBeacon technology within At The Ballpark when the award-winning app's 2014 update is released for Opening Day. Complete details on new features being developed by MLBAM for At The Ballpark, including iBeacon capabilities, will be available in March.
"This is a great addition to our over-all program to make Dodger Stadium Wi-Fi-friendly for our fans," said Lon Rosen, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Los Angeles Dodgers. "We are hoping to provide our fans come Opening Day the finest in wireless technology and connectivity. This state of the art system will greatly enhance the fan experience and the enjoyment of Dodger baseball."
Hopefully, this is a case of one small step forward, several more bigger steps forward very soon.

UPDATE: Dex at Gaslamp Ball has more background on this iBeacon technology.  Check out what he has to say here.   He notes that iBeacon is "microlocation wifi".  They'll be able to track your every move... like, literally!
That's right, whether you like it or not, this sort of technology, at is absolute core, is all about knowing exactly where your cell phone is at any given moment. Regardless of if you have the accompanying apps installed. The very fact that your phone is looking for a wi-fi signal will announce your location to the iBeacon servers every moment that you're within range.

So not only will you get the timely reminder that there's a beer cart 3 steps to your left and a place that sells the hat you were hoping to find 18 feet to your right, but you'll also be letting the Padres (and Dodgers) know exactly how long you're standing at that urinal.
As a 24-hour Dodgers channel comes closer to reality, news should start to trickle in on the various shows and programs we should expect to find.  So naturally, the official Dodger blog Dodger Insider unveiled some information this afternoon.  Check out what they wrote here.  Below is a synopsis:
  • Backstage: Dodgers” is a weekly documentary series that will give fans true inside access to the team from the first day of Spring Training through the last pitch of the season.  It will debut on February 25th with Clayton Kershaw.
  • Access SportsNet: Dodgers” will be SportsNet LA’s signature live daily studio show.  John Hartung will host this show.
  • Leadoff LA” will air live for half an hour from the SportsNet LA studios before “Access SportsNet: Dodgers” on game days during the regular season.  
  • Dodgers Clubhouse” will air weekly all season long and cover all aspects of the club, both on and off the field.  There will be a on-on-one session with Don Mattingly by Alanna Rizzo, and it will air on Mondays.
  • The interview series “Connected With…” will feature in-depth, sit-down interviews with Dodger personalities. Clayton Kershaw and Don Mattingly will be featured first.
  • Talkin’ Blue” will feature a look back at the Dodger past with Dodger legends and personalities.
  • Dodgermentary” will be 1-hour long biographies on past and present Dodgers'.
(The SportsNet LA studio, pic tweeted by @SportsNetLA)

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