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Officers put the brakes on tailgating at Dodgers' home opener

April 13, 2010 |  3:22 pm

Hours before the afternoon start of the Dodgers’ home opener Tuesday, fans converged on the stadium shortly after the gates opened at 10 a.m. dressed in every iteration of Dodger blue -- hats, jackets, long-sleeve shirts and sleeveless ones.

For many, it is a decades-old tradition -- gathering up family and friends, dressing in blue, splaying open the back of the SUV and unwrapping food and drinks in the stadium parking lots with their panoramic views of the city. But this year, doing that brought some unwelcome attention.

“We’re trying to tailgate,” Ray Barbosa said, standing in a Dodgers parking lot with his friends next to his GMC Sierra.

“The only thing big enough to carry a party,” his friend Tom Lerma said of the Sierra.

“That means we’ve been visited four times in seven minutes,” Barbosa said, referring to the seemingly ever-present Dodgers security and LAPD officers who approached on bikes, in carts and on foot to suggest that fans move inside the stadium.

“You can take your food,” offered one.

Security personnel said it’s not just the illegal drinking of alcohol in parking lots that is forbidden. All tailgating -- or congregating -- is off-limits in the vast expanses of parking lots around the stadium. For longtime fans, that’s crushing a tradition as cherished as watching the actual game.

“We’ve been doing this since we were in high school,” said Roberto Ortiz, 30, an assistant chef at the California Yacht Club in Marina del Rey.

He and his friends were dining on tuna salad tostadas and Coke and Gatorade for the gathering.

“It kind of deters us coming early," Ortiz said. "We’ll just stay home, barbecue and watch it on TV.”

-- Carla Hall at Dodger Stadium

Photo: (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times / April 13, 2010)

Richard Castellano, 35, of Whittier plays catch in the parking lot beyond the center-field scoreboard before the Dodgers' home opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday.