When I think of the 1960s, I think of drugs and hippies. Apparently, architects also partook of many types of mind-altering substances while plying their trade.

By Gus Bode

The 1960s have brought us some of the most ugly, poorly designed buildings around. They include Busch Stadium and the other cookie-cutter stadiums of its ilk, Faner Hall and numerous other buildings where attractiveness and ease of use were seemingly an afterthought.

The recent August break gave me the opportunity to watch my beloved Cubs battle for playoff position in two stadiums built in the dark ages of architecture – Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego and Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

Both are decent enough places to watch a ballgame, and both could have been much better if the architects had put more thought into them like the designers of many of the new downtown baseball stadiums sprouting up in cities throughout the country.

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Both Dodger Stadium and Qualcomm Stadium are set in the middle of massive parking lots that don’t lend any character to the stadiums they envelop.

Their massive concrete exteriors are also unpleasing to the eye, especially Qualcomm with its spiral walkways on each corner of the structure.

But while ugly on the outside, both are decent enough places to watch baseball, minor annoyances aside. As for pure baseball viewing pleasure, I’ll give the nod to the Padres’ home stadium, which is in its last season as a baseball park before giving way to another well-designed downtown stadium, this one named for a pet store.

Qualcomm’s palm trees, perfect weather and public standing areas below the outfield bleachers just feet from the outfielders make it a good place for baseball.

The abundance of rarely used seating and the aforementioned lack of character do take away from its ambiance. The seating sections also seem poorly designed. While most new stadiums strive for an open concourse where you can watch the game without being in your seat, Qualcomm quashes this possibility with pointless walls behind each seating section. There is also an unnecessary aisle in front of each seating section, which can get rather annoying after you’ve watched the 10th vendor walk in front of you in the second inning.

But there’s no need to buy food from foot peddlers when there’s a Rally’s inside the stadium, a major plus in my book.

Dodger Stadium may or may not have a Rally’s inside, as it’s draconian design doesn’t allow fans seated in the outfield to wander to any other part of the stadium concourse.

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Like Qualcomm, Dodger Stadium is located in a massive parking lot, but at least it’s located within a city park, which gives it a slightly better appearance. From the outside, however, the stadium isn’t quite as ugly as Qualcomm.

On the inside, at least in the outfield pavilion sections, Dodger Stadium is plain and unattractive.

Sitting in the outfield bleachers, fans cannot wander anywhere outside of this area to explore the stadium. One of the best parts of visiting a new stadium is wandering the concourse.

One plus for Dodger Stadium was that I was able to learn new Spanish curse words, which were apparently directed at Sammy Sosa by fans sitting directly behind me.

But, despite their team’s winning record, Dodger fans seemed more interested in playing with beach balls than watching the game. Signs posted at entrances prohibiting beach balls did not discourage them. At least four beach balls were bounced through the crowd at all times, even with security guards constantly confiscating them.

Another major benefit of each stadium is something Cubs and Cardinals fans are unaccustomed to – affordable ticket prices. Many tickets at Dodger Stadium can be had for a mere $6, and tickets start at $5 in San Diego.

If only Cubs and Cardinals fans on student-worker salaries could actually afford to visit their teams’ home parks.

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