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The new Dodger Stadium: Aggressive plans underway; planner hired

August 06, 2012|By Steve Dilbeck
  • The Dodgers hired someone with vast experience in stadium renovation on Monday.
The Dodgers hired someone with vast experience in stadium renovation on… (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles…)

Change is coming to Dodger Stadium, and sooner than most may have imagined.

The Dodgers hired someone with vast experience in stadium renovation on Monday, and team president Stan Kasten said much of the initial work could be completed prior to the 2013 home opener.

“We’re on an aggressive timeline,” Kasten said. “We would like to do as much as we can by opening day next year. I suspect what we’ll have in place is going to be more than a one-year program. It’s going to take several years, probably, to do all the things we want. But our goal certainly is to do a lot of this by next year.”

Janet Marie Smith, who has overseen the development of Atlanta’s Turner Field, Baltimore’s Camden Yards and the renovation of Boston’s Fenway Park, was hired by the Dodgers Monday for the newly created position of vice president of planning and development.

Kasten said Smith liked the “retro, ’50s feel” of Dodger Stadium and changes would be incorporated into its current design, much as was accomplished at Fenway.

“If you really look at it with a microscope, [Fenway is] very different than it was 10 years ago, but you don’t notice it,” Kasten said. “It feels the same. I think that’s a good goal.

“I do think we have the potential to do even more than they did at Fenway, because we have more room to do things.”

One of the first stadium areas of improvement won’t necessarily be noticeable. Kasten said bids are already being taken for infrastructure improvements for power, water and data systems, and it was hoped that work could be completed during the offseason.

He said later changes could include additional restaurants and bars, kids’ areas, relaxation areas, history displays and interactive areas.

“We’ve given her a list, and she’s taken that, refined it, expanded it, and then of course she’ll tell me all the things she sees,” he said.

Kasten said the current focus was on making Dodger Stadium the best it could be, but would not rule out the future possibility of some day building an entirely new stadium in the parking lot.

“There is that kind of talk going forward,” he said. “I suppose, in time. But right now the only thing that is on our drawing board is making this the best stadium we can make it. And it’s really the only thing we’re talking about right now.”

If the stadium is expanded outward, particularly in the pavilion area, it would likely intrude into the parking lots, which former team owner Frank McCourt still owns half of with the current ownership group. Kasten said McCourt’s approval would not be required for any expansion.

Kasten said none of McCourt's previous plans for a Universal CityWalk-type project in the outfield parking lots are included.

"We're starting fresh," he said.

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