Baseball is back — but Dodger Stadium is empty

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The main entrance to Dodger Stadium on Vin Scully Avenue is empty during a recent exhibition game. Photo by Benjamin Gottlieb.

Major League Baseball’s regular season starts this week in Los Angeles, with the Dodgers taking on their division rivals, the San Francisco Giants. In many ways, things are virtually the same. There are still strikeouts, home runs, and nine players on the field for each team.

But if you look closer, baseball is different this year. No fans are allowed in places like Dodger Stadium, known for its party-like atmosphere. On a recent evening, the only drivers lined up were there to get COVID-19 tests. 


Dodger Stadium has become one of the more popular coronavirus testing sites in LA county. Photo by Benjamin Gottlieb.

Baseball without fans still does not seem real to Bobby James, a longtime fan who often watches his team live.

“I had to go out and get a cable subscription for the first time in, gosh, I don’t know how long,” said James.

While the stadium may be closed, there are plenty of bar and restaurant owners across LA who cannot wait for baseball, including Robert Cook, manager of Grunions Sports Bar & Grill in Manhattan Beach, a popular spot for local Dodgers fans. 


Robert Cook, manager at Grunions Sports Bar & Grill in Manhattan Beach, gets his restaurant prepared for opening day. Tables are set up in the back parking lot in accordance with COVID-19 guidelines. Photo by Benjamin Gottlieb.

“I'm dying every month. I'm losing tons of money. ... It's crazy,” he said of the economic effects from the pandemic. “We're huge supporters of the Dodgers. I'll be rolling out Dodger dogs on Thursday night. And we're going to make it feel as best we can. We're going to try to get a little [of] that vibe back, man.”

Credits

Host:
Steve Chiotakis

Producers:
Christian Bordal, Jenna Kagel

Reporter:
Benjamin Gottlieb