April 24, 2008

home improvement

Today, the Dodgers announced plans for the new Dodger Stadium. Relax, they aren't tearing the old one down, they're just expanding on the existing one. When I first moved here, I saw Dodger Stadium as just another one of those cookie cutter stadium-era stadiums, but I quickly discovered that people here have a real affection for the place, and over time I've developed the same. Next year, Dodger Stadium will be the third oldest major league ballpark in the country, so while it doesn't have the level of history that a Wrigley or Fenway does, it now ranks up there. After Fox nearly destroyed the entire Dodgers franchise, people were skeptical when Frank McCourt from Boston bought the team a few years ago. He pledged to invest money and rebuild the team, but he enraged fans when he floated talk of a new downtown ballpark. LA fans wanted none of it. At the World Series in Boston, I sat next to a guy who said he worked with McCourt on plans for the new Fenway. He told me LA would have a new ballpark within five years, mark his words. Well, he wasn't exactly right. McCourt learned fast that you don't piss off LA fans. And instead, he started investing in improvements to Dodger Stadium, the most noticeable of which are the new Field Level concessions, bathrooms and widened halls I wrote about earlier this month. Today he announced a major set of changes to the Stadium, to be completed in 2012. Several of the parking areas will be turned into green spaces, parking garages above and below ground will be added, along with shopping and eating areas, a museum, and more communal and pedestrian areas to make the Stadium a destination before and after games, as well as on non-game days. I've always thought that was exactly what Dodger Stadium needed. Hopefully they can find a way to add a metro stop there too. Now, if they add a bunch of California greenery in the batter's "blank zone" in the outfield, plus a kleig-light style home run celebration, I won't have any ideas left to offer! I'm sure McCourt will take some heat for the new changes - because they're changes. I, for one, think they're good ideas for updating and rejuvenating Dodger Stadium without changing the original. Maybe not a home run, but definitely a triple. More photos and details are here:
  • Dodger Stadium: The Next 50 Years
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