Dodgers host postseason drive-ins for fans during World Series games against Rays

The Dodger Stadium parking lot has been transformed into a drive-in watch party for fans who hope to see them beat the Tampa Bay Rays in the World Series. (Photo by Patty Vicente/Cronkite News)

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Dodgers and their fans are no strangers to the October Classic, with this season marking the team’s third appearance in the World Series in four years. The difference in 2020? Most fans are watching the games at home and are nowhere near their team in Texas.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, few fans have stepped foot in an arena or stadium or on a field in more than six months. And it’s still not certain when they’ll be able to root, root, root for the home team again.

The Dodgers, however, have provided an alternative to watching the team live and in-person as they take on the Tampa Bay Rays in Arlington, Texas, where the best of seven series is being played. The boys in blue need three more wins to bring the crown back to Los Angeles for the first time since 1988. Two players from Arizona are in the series: Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers and Aaron Slegers of the Rays.

For $75 per car, fans can go to Dodger Stadium’s vast parking lots and watch the series on 60-foot screens, as at a drive-in theater. Play-by-play can be heard over FM radio. Although fans can’t get out of their cars to tailgate, they can get decked out in Dodger blue to honk for home runs and take in the view from Chavez Ravine overlooking the city. The first drive-in was Oct. 12, Game 1 of the National League Championship Series against the Atlanta Braves.

What’s the biggest difference? There’s honking. Lots of honking.

“Part of the fun of being in a stadium is that when your team makes a good play, you jump around, high five the fans around, and you have a shared moment,” said Samantha Melbourneweaver, an Arizona State University graduate and lifelong Dodger fan. “That’s translated in a drive-in to honking. You honk and flash your lights.”

Alcohol is prohibited, but fans are encouraged to bring their own food and nonalcoholic beverages because concessions aren’t available, according to a news release from the team.

Like many other regulations that have been enforced since the pandemic was declared in March, social distancing is enforced by security guards roaming the lines of cars. No one will be allowed to leave their car unless they’re heading to the portable restrooms.

Like many fans, Melbourneweaver shared her drive-in experience on social media.

“We wish we could be playing in front of 56,000 fans at Dodger Stadium,” manager Dave Roberts said in a news release before the team clinched the NL pennant, “but we’re excited that the Dodgers have created a safe way for the community to come together and hopefully cheer us on to the World Series.”

Now, with just a few games left to play before we bid the tumultuous 2020 season goodbye, fans are trying to soak in as much as possible – even if it is from an asphalt parking lot.

“There is always that little extra boost you get when you see something live,” Melbourneweaver said. “It totally made me feel like I was here with the community of strangers and enjoying this thing that we wouldn’t even exist in the same universe without.”

For some NL Championship Series games, add-ons were available for fans, such as Joe Kelly bobbleheads and ticket credit for future games.

But above all, the best thing about the drive-in experience, Melbourneweaver said, was being able to safely interact with other individuals who share a common passion.

“Just being around other people and feeling safe, while being around other people who are really excited about something was really special. It feels good.”

Sports Reporter, Los Angeles

Patty Vicente is a California native who expects to graduate in December 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism and minor in Spanish. Vicente is a digital sports reporter for Cronkite News in Los Angeles. She has worked as a digital reporter for Cronkite Sports and as a digital content intern at Fox Sports Arizona.