The cars rolled into the Angel Stadium parking lot last weekend, assembling beneath a giant pop-up screen. In the shadow of the Big A, and from the safety of their vehicles, folks enjoyed drive-in movies.
With the start of the 2020 season less than two weeks away, how about drive-in baseball?
With no fans allowed into major league games for this abbreviated season, at least at the start, perhaps fans could gather in the stadium parking lot and watch the game on a big screen.
It might seem odd to pay to sit outside a ballpark you cannot enter, but it might be as close to a community event as you can get during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In one weekend in June, the San Diego Padres hosted seven drive-in events in a team parking lot set up to accommodate 250 cars: two concerts, two movie screenings, and three high school graduations. The events went so well the Padres are hopeful of holding drive-in baseball outside Petco Park this summer, spokesman Craig Hughner said.
The Dodgers declined to say whether they would consider drive-in baseball outside Dodger Stadium, spokesman Jon Chapper said. The Angels are “looking at all options,” spokesman Adam Chodzko said.
The Angel Stadium drive-in sold out three concerts this weekend. The events there are run by Nederlander Concerts, operators of the Grove, a theater on the Katella Avenue edge of the parking lot.
“We have a great relationship with the Angels,” said Jordan Harding, general manager of the Grove. “If this is something they wanted to do, we’d be more than happy to partner with them, to host some viewing parties.”
The Angel Stadium events are designed in accordance with health and safety protocols: social distance between cars, with tickets and concessions sold in advance to eliminate as many personal interactions as possible. Food is delivered to cars, although masked vendors roam the parking lot with beverages and snacks. A virtual restroom line is arranged via an app.
The Angel Stadium events are limited to 274 cars, all within the parking area adjacent to the Grove. If the Angels approved, Harding said, drive-in baseball could accommodate more cars by expanding into the general stadium lots.
The Houston Astros are scheduled to play in Anaheim, in a weekend series July 31-Aug. 2. Before the virus struck, close to 3,000 fans — most of them Dodgers fans — had bought tickets for the express purpose of booing the Astros in Anaheim.
Could an Angel Stadium drive-in be set up close enough to the ballpark walls that the Astros would hear boos from fans sitting in their cars?
“I think so. That would be pretty cool, if that could work,” Harding said, laughing. “You have my endorsement on that.”