The Other Disneyland
Angel Stadium has had an interesting history. It’s the fourth oldest stadium in the Majors, but the current version of the ballpark is only about 21 years old. This is because Angel Stadium has gone through three phases.
Phase 1: Angel Stadium opens in 1966 as Anaheim Stadium. The stadium seated just over 43,000 fans, mostly all of the seats being in foul territory. The Big A scoreboard is the notable landmark, just beyond the wall in left center field. The dimensions were mainly symmetrical, tinkered with from time to time.
The Big A scoreboard used to sit just beyond the outfield wall in left center field.
Phase 2: In 1980, the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams moved into Anaheim Stadium. Rams owner Carroll Rosenbloom wanted to relocate his team to a smaller stadium so his team wouldn’t be blacked out on television. The Rams were playing at the LA Coliseum at the time. Rosenbloom wouldn’t see his team play in Anaheim Stadium, as he passed away from a heart attack in 1979. With Anaheim Stadium completely enclosed, its capacity for baseball was now just over 64,000. This made Anaheim Stadium one of the largest stadiums in MLB. Angels fans weren’t too keen of this change, as there were many bad seats under the configuration.
Angel Stadium in the 1980s in football configuration. Likely taken while baseball season was still going on.
Phase 3: The Rams would leave for St. Louis after the 1994 NFL season, making he Angels the sole tenant again. The Walt Disney Company gained majority ownership of the Angels in 1996 and struck a deal to keep the Angels in Angel Stadium until 2031. Part of the deal included a renovation that returned the stadium to a baseball only facility. The most notable feature being the artificial rocks behind the left center field wall with geysers that shoot off water after Angel home runs and wins.
Angel Stadium in its current form.
Anaheim is about 30 minutes south of Los Angeles. I first went to Angel Stadium in April 2017. It was during my first trip to the west coast. I was in San Diego with my friend Todd to see Petco Park on Saturday, and we decided earlier in the week to also knock out Angel Stadium.
Anaheim is a little less than two hours north of San Diego. With a 1:05 local start time and not having to go into the heart of downtown Los Angeles traffic, it only made sense to see Angel Stadium. We woke up early Sunday morning to beat traffic, catching breakfast along the way. Sorry, I wanted to add that element to my story.
Angel Stadium is probably the easiest ballpark I’ve been to so far, as far as parking goes. The stadium is surrounded by a large parking lot. If you get there early enough, you can get a nice parking spot for a reasonable price.
Plenty of parking options right outside Angel Stadium.
Since we got there a couple hours prior to first pitch, we took some time to walk around the perimeter of the stadium. We spent most of our time waiting around the home plate gates. Two giant ball caps stand out front, with six large baseball bats centered between the two ball caps. There is also an outline of a baseball diamond, including a pitching mound.
The home plate entrance at Angel Stadium.
I had mentioned earlier in this article that Angel Stadium opened in 1966. When you are walking around the main concourse, you definitely are able to tell it was a ballpark built in the 1960s. It’s technically under the playing field, too.
There really is nothing spectacular about any of the concourses. It is all pretty generic as far as that goes. But I know you probably don’t go to a ballpark to check out it’s concourse. Angel Stadium actually has one the best outfields to look at in baseball now. The main attraction being the artificial rocks and waterfall out in left center field. So it looks like a modern day retro ballpark from your seat. It’s a far cry from the stadium’s days of being a multi purpose facility where even crowd of 40,000 people for Angels games seemed small.
A different view of the outfield rocks.
The game we went to we actually missed one heck of a comeback by the Angels. The Angels were playing the Seattle Mariners that day, and we left in about the 6th inning to begin our drive back to Arizona. Yes, I left a baseball game early. We had a cross country flight to catch out of Phoenix the following morning. When we left it seemed the Mariners had the game in hand. They entered the bottom of the 9th inning with a 9-3 lead. The Angels pulled out a minor miracle, scoring 7 runs in the bottom half of the 9th to win 10-9.
Overall, I enjoyed my first trip to Anaheim Stadium. The only thing that left me befuddled was their souvenir cup policy. I like to collect a souvenir cup from all the stadiums I go to. Now every stadium is different with their refill policy. For example, PNC Park in Pittsburgh is actually nice enough to let you get one free refill on the day of the game. Other places will charge you full price. Anaheim? You have to buy a whole new cup altogether. Yeah, I was puzzled by that. So I just got a bottle of water instead.
The staff there was extremely friendly though. It’s always nice to get a welcoming staff, especially when you’re visiting a ballpark on the other side of the country. So next time you’re in the greater Los Angeles area, swing on down to Anaheim and catch an Angels game. You’ll be sure to enjoy your experience.