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The future of Dodger Stadium, the long and short version

October 12, 2012|By Steve Dilbeck
  • Dodger Stadium may undergo some changes soon, but not terribly dramatic ones ... yet.
Dodger Stadium may undergo some changes soon, but not terribly dramatic… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)

Love Dodger Stadium? Think it only needs some minor modernizing, just some tender loving care? Want to give it a big hug before you go to bed every night?

Or are you the kind of pragmatist who believes it’s had one helluva run, but it’s now time for Los Angeles to have a modern stadium. To join the current millennium. Time to bring out the wrecking ball.

Want answers? You're not going to get them now, at least regarding the long term. Dodgers Chief Executive Stan Kasten is focused on what he calls an aggressive off-season plan to respond to 51-year-old ballpark’s most pressing current needs.

“Back-of-the-house stuff -- power, water, clubhouse, batting cages for both teams,” he said. “In the receiving bowls we’re going to have more restaurants and bars, more hanging-out areas, gathering areas like you see in parks. Our sound system, our video system, kids’ areas – those are the kind of things we’re looking at.

“We do have an aggressive plan ... you could say it can’t all get done in the 24 weeks I have until opening day.”

Kasten said the Dodgers have been so focused on the immediate changes the stadium needs, that ownership has given scant thought to more long-term needs.

“I know what we need in this ballpark for now, that I can do now in this off-season. Now if I also knew I was going to be here for the next 50 years like Wrigley and Fenway, then we’d also be doing probably other 50-year things,” he said. “I would be announcing a five-year building program. That may yet happen. I haven’t had my time to think about the second step.”

Ultimate plans for Dodger Stadium might also be on hold while Mark Walter and his Guggenheim Group explore the possibility of bidding on AEG, which went up for sale last month. AEG owns Staples Center, is the driving force behind building an NFL stadium at the convention center, and owns the Kings, the Galaxy, part of the Lakers, and the Home Depot Center.

There are several possibilities to consider for the long-term future of Dodger Stadium. It could undergo a significant renovation under new stadium architect Janet Marie Smith. It could be knocked down and a new ballpark built. If Guggenheim does purchase AEG, it could build both ballpark and stadium on the Chavez Ravine site, or less likely, build the ballpark downtown and the NFL stadium in the ravine.

“Haven’t thought about it yet,” Kasten said. “That is the truth. Where we play 40 years from now hasn’t come into our mind set. I know those are fair questions, and there will be time for me and us to think about that. We just haven’t had that time yet.

“My guess is we’ll be here, long term, permanent. But all I’ve been focused on is what I can get done this off-season. I’m not going to build lots of buildings and museums out there. I’m not going to build an extra outdoor concourse. When I think about the 50-year plan, I do think about those types of things. We’re not there yet.”

Of course, any major renovation of Dodger Stadium would no doubt include those additional buildings and development, which means bringing old friend Frank McCourt back into play, since he still owns half of the over 270 acres of parking lots surrounding the stadium.

And won’t that just be a wonderful day?

Certainly something will happen to Dodger Stadium and its prime acreage in the reasonable future. Speculation was rampant that Guggenheim did not pay a record price for the franchise just to park cars on the surrounding property.

Down the road significant change is coming. And it will come into sharper focus once this off-season’s changes are completed.

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