Dodgers Stadium Celebrates its 50th Birthday in 2012
When Frank McCourt purchased the Dodgers, rumors flew about exciting potential developments in Chavez Ravine.
However, the excitement and speculation died when McCourt and his wife Jamie began a publicized and contentious divorce. The situation held the Dodgers hostage financially and Dodgers Stadium only underwent some minor renovations under McCourt ownership.
Luckily for Dodgers fans, the speculation and excitement is back and this time it's for real. A new report from the LA Times is creating the buzz.
When the Dodgers were sold to Magic Johnson and company, the organization once again became financially relevant. Chairman Mark Walter, President Stan Kasten, Magic, and the rest have made it perfectly clear to everyone they are prepared to spend money.
Chavez Ravine developments, therefore, are certainly high on their to-do list and plans are finally taking form.
According to the LA Times report, the Dodgers have hired planner Janet Marie Smith to oversee the upcoming Dodger Stadium changes. Smith previously worked on renovating Turner Field, Fenway Park, and Camden Yards, and is working closely with Kasten on the plans.
Here's what the new stadium design could mean for the future of Chavez Ravine and the Dodgers organization as a whole.
Through the end of this year, the LA Times believes the Dodgers may throw around the idea of expanding the outfield pavilions farther into the parking lot.
These pavilions have received the least amount of attention over the past decade. In fact, they are the only sections in the entire park that still use bench-style seating.
Therefore, the Dodgers may look to phase out these uncomfortable benches, as well as physically expand the pavilions outward.
The new area could then be used for more seats or new amenities such as bars, restaurants, interactive games, etc. A restaurant overlooking the entire park at the top of the pavilion would make a nice addition.
Although McCourt still owns half the parking lot, the LA Times article states that the organization will not need his permission on any parking lot developments.
No word yet on whether the entire right field pavilion would remain all-you-can-eat.
Dodgers Chairman Mark Walter finances most of the team's operations
Dodgers Stadium is a Los Angeles icon and will always be one of the city's most historic landmarks.
However, the stadium's amenities have undoubtedly fallen behind the times. Simply put, the stadium needs a lot of work.
In fact, Dodgers Stadium offers only a few modern amenities: very few bars, restaurants, interactive areas, and other attractions that are prevalent in most other professional parks.
Correcting this will be atop Smith's agenda in renovating the stadium.
Kasten told the LA Times that the Dodgers will first upgrade its water, power, and data systems and then begin to add dining, interactive games, museums, and relaxation areas this offseason.
A huge Dodgers museum, new restaurants in the Loge section, and attractions such as batting cages would make a lot of sense.
While Dodgers Stadium undoubtedly needs a makeover, it also has a certain charm that should remain part of the stadium forever.
In his discussion with the LA Times, Kasten stressed that no matter how the organization develops the stadium, it should "feel" the same.
This feel keeps Dodgers fans returning year after year. For all fans, young and old alike, the park feels nostalgic. This is a key aspect of its appeal.
The team and its fans clearly aren't ready for an entirely new ballpark yet. For this reason, Smith was hired to make the park better without ruining its identity.
"I think that's a good goal," Kasten said.
However, Kasten would later reveal that a brand new stadium with a whole different feel could arrive sooner rather than later.
Dodgers Star Outfielder Matt Kemp
Dodgers Stadium, now open for 50 years, is not going to live forever. Dodgers ownership is already starting to make plans.
As historic as the park is, it just doesn't have the architectural magnificence that Fenway Park or Wrigley Field do. These parks get better with age and are considered "vintage," while Dodgers Stadium is simply "old."
The owners will do all they can to keep Dodgers Stadium alive, but eventually the park will be too old for the team to play there.
Kasten explicitly expressed this in his interview with the LA Times, and when asked about a future stadium, he said the organization has already thought about it.
"There is that kind of talk going forward," he said. The new stadium would most likely be built on the Dodgers Stadium property.
However, Kasten also stated that he and Smith are presently concerned with making the current stadium the best it can be. Plus, with all the work being put in to the current Dodgers Stadium, it's safe to say the park will remain for years to come.
Dodgers President Stan Kasten
Most exciting of all, the stadium plan is not mere wishful thinking this time around.
Stan Kasten, Dodgers President and part-owner, told the LA Times that he expects "much of the initial work would be completed prior to the 2013 opener." In other words, the Dodgers will play out this season and return home in 2013 to a newly renovated park.
This time frame is indicative that the future truly is now for the Dodgers organization.
After shopping aggressively at the trade deadline, the new ownership is clearly committed to putting a winning team on the field every year, starting now. Dodgers fans could hardly ask for more.
But the new owners are going above and beyond. Their priority is creating the best possible experience at the ballpark, and these exciting plans reveal how fast a new era of Dodgers baseball is approaching.