Sharon Newman and Alex Reyna looked around Dodger Stadium approvingly, taking in the green, tree-lined Elysian Park hills and snow-capped San Gabriel Mountains from their seats along the first-base line.
"It's the same ballpark as always," said Reyna, who along with his friend, soaked up the sun on an unusually chilly Sunday while waiting for the finale of the Freeway Series to begin."This ballpark is one of the best-looking in the majors. The mystique of the Dodgers, they don't have to advertise," he said.
Newman and Reyna were among several fans relieved to see no major cosmetic changes at the first homestand under new Dodgers owner Rupert Murdoch.
"I've been coming here since I was little," the 39-year-old Newman said. "If they were to start putting up a lot of advertising, I probably wouldn't come anymore."
Fox Group, a division of Murdoch's News Corp., bought the team March 19 from Peter O'Malley, whose family had been in charge since 1950, when the franchise still played in Brooklyn. Some fans expect Murdoch, whose empire includes newspapers, a film studio and TV networks, to transform the ballpark.
After all, his Fox network boasts such fare as "Beverly Hills, 90210" and "Melrose Place." But the souvenir stands featured blue-and-white Dodger merchandise, not Heather Locklear dolls. And the famed Dodger dogs - grilled not boiled - tasted the same as always.
"They always have to have Dodger dogs, that's a must," said Joyce Jensen of Mission Viejo, waiting in line at one of the hot dog stands. "That's part of the whole aura of the stadium, especially when you have out-of-town friends visiting."
There is some new advertising to go with the two small red-and-while Coke signs in the outfield. A sign board - planned before the ownership change - knocked out 12 seats behind home plate. It's visible mostly to fans in the outfield seats and the TV cameras, of course.
The Dodgers' home opener is April 7 against the expansion Arizona Diamondbacks, a game Murdoch is expected to attend. By then, fans will be able to see some other changes pegged to the team's 40th anniversary this season.
A Wall of Fame time-line mural will span the outfield wall commemorating the Dodgers' history and tradition. Giant murals depicting Dodgers players will adorn the outside of the stadium, which turns 36 on April 10.
Two new scoreboards on the loge level will feature out-of-town scores, game information and fan birthday and anniversary greetings.
Organist Nancy Bea Hefley, a staple for the last 10 years, will be limited to playing the pregame national anthem and at the end of innings.