Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Steve Garvey eyes tech updates
By Ramona Shelburne
Dodger Stadium is still one of Steve Garvey's favorite places. One of the great "cathedrals of baseball," he called it. But if he were successful in his bid to buy the franchise from embattled owner Frank McCourt, one of the first things he'd do is upgrade and modernize some of what he called its "embarassing" amenities.
"One of the first steps is to make a significant investment into refurbishing the stadium and bringing it up to 21st century style technology in entertainment. We're far behind," Garvey told hosts Mark Willard and Mychal Thompson during 710 ESPNLA's "Lunch with a Legend" at Morton's the Steakhouse in Woodland Hills on Wednesday afternoon.
"If you look at those two electronic message boards [in the outfield], I mean, it's embarrassing. Not to have two new state of the art [message boards] or even one large one."
During the hour-long interview, Garvey reiterated his involvement with former Cy Young winner Orel Hershiser and an investment group interested in buying the team if McCourt is ultimately forced to sell it by a Delaware bankruptcy court judge.
That ruling was expected to come early next month, but a hearing to determine the team's fate was postponed Wednesday from next week until Nov. 29.
Garvey said he was disappointed in the delay because the new hearing is scheduled to conclude just three days before baseball's winter meetings, during which the free-agent market historically ramps up.
"Number one is taking care of the talent and infrastructure we have in place," Garvey said. "The problem is timing. If this doesn't happen and a free agency class goes by us, we're going to have to be very creative in changing the dichotomy of the team, the talent on the team. It can be done ... but it makes it more complicated."
If he were part of the new Dodgers' ownership group, Garvey said he'd be "very aggressive" in retaining the Dodgers existing talent and pursuing free agents who could help the club return to prominence. Garvey said he'd extend All-Stars Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw and, in a bit of a surprise, Andre Ethier.
"I like Ethier," he said. "I like his attitude. I think we would lock him up for another four or five years."
Later, when asked to elaborate on his comments about upgrading Dodger Stadium, Garvey said he thought improving the atmosphere at the iconic park was key to restoring fans' trust in the franchise. The Dodgers experienced the largest attendance drop-off (18 percent) in all of baseball as fans were turned off by McCourt's legal woes and the Opening Day beating of San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow.
"It's a cathedral of baseball. There's so much history," Garvey said. "But the problem is it's the third oldest stadium in baseball. It's going to be 50 years old and it needs things done to it that can approach the quality and atmosphere of new stadiums. We have a great business plan to be able to do some things that will really change the atmosphere of the stadium.
"This is a long-term investment in Dodger baseball. If you think of it this way, then you do all these things to enhance the experience for the fans. That's what, God willing, we'll have the opportunity to do. We will be an ownership of and for the fans."
Ramona Shelburne is a reporter and columnist for ESPNLosAngeles.com.