A viral aerial video of Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium has many social media users convinced that floodwaters submerged the ballpark over the weekend amid Tropical Storm Hilary.
“Dodger Stadium flooded in Los Angeles after Tropical Storm Hilary slams California,” reads one popular post on X, formerly known as Twitter, alongside a still from the footage appearing to show the stadium surrounded by water. “Dodger Stadium is an island,” said another.
But the team says the stadium, which is built into a hill, was never under water — and the apparent flood in the video is just an optical illusion.
Here’s a closer look at the facts.
CLAIM: An aerial video shows Dodger Stadium was flooded during Tropical Storm Hilary.
Dodger stadium this morning #Dodgerstadium #dodgerblue #copterpilot #dodgerlife #dodgers #dodgertown #doyers #blueheaven #LA #LADodgers #playball #losangelesaerial #dodgeraerial pic.twitter.com/FFZ7OMZ8Ti
— Los Angeles Dodgers Aerial Photography (@DodgerAerial) August 21, 2023
THE FACTS: The stadium was not flooded, Steve Brener, a spokesperson for the Dodgers, told The Associated Press. The team also posted a picture online of the parking lot looking dry on Monday.
While the footage from Sunday does make it look like a moat formed around the outside of the building at first glance, it is actually just the parking lot that encircles the stadium slick with rainwater.
The video was originally posted that morning on X and Instagram by an account named Los Angeles Dodgers Aerial Photography. “Dodger stadium this morning,” reads the caption of the post. Others then reshared the footage, and screengrabs of the clip, claiming that it depicted the area underwater.
The Los Angeles Dodgers Aerial Photography accounts did not respond to a request for comment. But Mark Holtzman, president of Los Angeles-based company West Coast Aerial Photography, told the AP that it’s likely the image was an optical illusion created by the wet concrete.
The reflections in the water create an “opaque look” that makes it appear like it’s standing water, he told The AP. “It’s just the way you’ve got the rain affecting it, you’ve got the light coming in on gray,” said Holtzman.
Was Video Manipulated?
Hany Farid, a digital forensics expert at the University of California, Berkeley, also noted that from a distant aerial view, it’s hard to tell the difference between a wet surface and one that is under several inches of water. “I don’t think the video is fake or manipulated, I just think that it does not show flooding around the Stadium,” Farid said in an email.
Holtzman, who has flown over the stadium many times and has never seen or heard of it being flooded, noted the parking lot is not level, so water couldn’t pool up.
“I’ve flown over at it, you know, all different times and all different, you know, dry and wet,” he said. “It looks like a wet stadium.”
A closer look at the footage also reveals parts of the parking lot that would not be present if it was deep under water.
For instance, the painted markings for the parking spaces in the sections closest to the camera — lots 3, 4, 5 and 15 — are visible, and match with the markings in satellite imagery of the area on Google Maps.
A triangular median at the intersections of lots I, K and 7 is also clearly visible in the footage, even though it is mostly landscaped with short shrubbery that would likely have been submerged.
Major League Baseball rescheduled three Sunday games throughout Southern California because of the forecast for Hilary. The Dodgers played a double-header on Saturday, meaning the team had no game on Sunday.
Brener, the team spokesperson, noted that the field would probably have been playable on Monday night if the team wasn’t on the road. He added that there were trucks in the parking lot setting up for a Saturday concert by K-pop group BlackPink.
___ This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.