Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Dodger Stadium getting a new look
By Mark Saxon
AP Photo/Reed Saxon
Work continues on an estimated $100 million in improvements to Dodger Stadium.
Janet Marie Smith had a bit of a conundrum when she sat down to sketch out some improvements to Dodger Stadium. Smith, who made her name overseeing work at Baltimore's Camden Yards, Boston's Fenway Park and Atlanta's Turner Field, among other places, needed to improve the fan -- and player -- experience while preserving the funky, early 1960s vibe.
"There are some things about its vintage state that aren't good," Smith said.
Tuesday, the Dodgers unveiled their plans for the roughly $100 million in stadium renovations under way at Chavez Ravine. Many of the improvements are subtle and some, such as the larger clubhouse and weight room, will be invisible to the public. They're all aimed at preserving the stadium's history while bringing it into the 21st century.
Courtesy of Los Angeles Dodgers
A rendering of some of the improvements planned for Dodger Stadium.
- High-definition video boards in left and right field that will return to the original hexagon shape. The first 10-millimeter, 1080p LED scoreboards in baseball will be 22 percent larger than the current screens.
- A new sound system aimed at cutting down on echoes and controlling the sound that leaves the stadium.
- Wider concourses and additional accommodations for fans in wheelchairs.
- New restrooms, some with baby-changing tables. Women's fixtures will increase 62 percent and men's fixtures by 32 percent, with the aim to cut down on long lines.
- A new home clubhouse, the first major changes to where Dodgers players dress since 1962, along with bigger weight rooms and trainers rooms.
- Separate batting cages and weight rooms for visiting teams, aimed at eliminating the awkward sharing of such facilities that sometimes led to tension before or after games.
- Bullpen overlooks, allowing fans to watch pitchers warm up (and heckle opposing relievers).
- Better cell-phone and wireless Internet access.
- Playground areas.
The Dodgers are hopeful the upgrades will lead to high-profile events such as a Major League Baseball All-Star game, which last came to Dodger Stadium in 1980 (when the hexagonal scoreboards were replaced with rectangular ones).
Dodgers president Stan Kasten said he has some upcoming meetings with Commissioner Bud Selig and he will mention the Dodgers' interest. They likely are behind Washington and Miami, at least, in the line to host a game.
"The extent that it had to be forestalled because of the facility, that will never be an excuse again," Kasten said. "This facility will be the equal or surpass any other stadium in baseball."
It will be a challenge for the Dodgers simply to complete the construction work by a March 29 exhibition game against the Angels. Kasten acknowledged the team has contingency plans in case the work isn't completed by then, but wouldn't divulge what they were. It's likely they would play any games at the Coliseum or Angel Stadium if necessary.
"I think we're going to get it done by Opening Day," Kasten said, "but the unforeseen is unforeseeable."
The playing dimensions will not be appreciably altered. If anything, it will become slightly more of a pitchers' park. Kasten estimated the renovations will produce about six more feet of foul ground, giving fielders more chances to catch foul pop-ups.