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DODGERS FYI

Steve Soboroff pledges changes in Dodger Stadium security measures

Team's new vice chairman says that planned policies will create improved fan behavior at games.

April 19, 2011|By Dylan Hernandez
  • Steve Soboroff is confident that Dodgers owner Frank McCourt's ownership of the team is financially stable.
Steve Soboroff is confident that Dodgers owner Frank McCourt's ownership… (Katie Falkenberg / For The…)

Introduced to Dodgers employees Tuesday as the club's new vice chairman who will oversee the implementation of improved security measures at Dodger Stadium, Steve Soboroff later met with reporters in the home team's dugout.

There, he made a bold statement about how fan behavior of Dodger Stadium would change.

"In one generation, the etiquette will be like it is on a golf course," Soboroff said.

Do you really think the etiquette here will be like that on a golf course?

"Of course not," he said. "No."

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Soboroff used to be a senior advisor to former mayor Richard Riordan. He made an unsuccessful run for mayor. He was president of the Los Angeles Recreation and Parks Commission.

On Tuesday, he spoke as if he were still a politician, talking in vague terms about the sweeping changes the Dodgers could introduce. In his new position, Soboroff will be responsible for "leading efforts to improve the fan experience at the stadium, strengthening ties to the region's community and philanthropic organizations, and expanding conservation and sustainability programs at Dodger Stadium," according to a news release issued by the team.

Soboroff said problems with fan behavior didn't start at Dodger Stadium, where a San Francisco Giants was beaten and critically injured in the parking lot on opening day.

"It starts with parents," Soboroff said. "It starts with neighbors. It starts with community pride, self-esteem."

Asked how the Dodgers could put an end to bad parenting, Soboroff recalled his days as the head of the recreation and parks commission.

"I would get reports every Monday from 400 parks," he said. "It would be about parents fighting in the stands, screaming at kids, running up and down. So, we instituted a pledge. Everybody who signed up."

In three weeks, the number of reported incidents declined by 40%, Soboroff said.

In September, Soboroff submitted an op-ed letter to The Times in support of Dodgers owner Frank McCourt. The letter was sent a week after former owner Peter O'Malley said McCourt should sell the team.

"I would write it again," Soboroff said.

He said he has problems with critics who don't offer solutions.

Not that Soboroff said he thinks McCourt should be criticized.

"Frank McCourt is financially fine," Soboroff said. "Frank is going to make payroll and this team is going to have great players, and next year it's going to have great players and they're going to have the money to have great players. There are assets behind this that I want to help realize the complete value for. The future here is great."

Soboroff, chairman of the Weingart Foundation, said he understands if there are suspicions about the Dodgers' charitable efforts.

The Dodgers Dream Foundation is under investigation by the California attorney general's office for the $400,000-plus in bonuses it paid to team executive Howard Sunkin. A team spokesman said the Dodgers have repaid the amount of Sunkin's bonus to the Dream Foundation.

"I would say that I hear you," Soboroff said of the concerns. "Forty-five years in this, give me a break. Give me a chance."

More front-office movement

In the meeting to introduce Soboroff to employees, McCourt said he would be more involved in the team's day-to-day operations, according to multiple sources.

Geoff Wharton is being phased out of his role as the team's chief operating officer, the sources said. Wharton has overseen the Dodgers' business operations since the team parted ways with president Dennis Mannion in October.

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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