The Los Angeles Dodgers have announced a half-billion-dollar facelift for Dodger Stadium, assuring fans the venerable stadium won’t be torn down and the team moved from its perch atop Chavez Ravine.
The ambitious plan amounts to a new stadium built from the core of the present facility, owner Frank McCourt said in his April 24th announcement of the "Next 50 Plan." The Dodgers are celebrating their 50th anniversary in Los Angeles.
"We’re creating a new stadium without tearing down the old," McCourt said in a statement. "That may take more effort and more resources, but we’re talking about Dodger Stadium."
It’s expected to be completed by opening day 2012, according to a news release from L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s office. Changes that require the city council’s approval are expected to be a formality.
The announcement should help bring an end to speculation about a new stadium for the Dodgers, which had increased as more of the stadiums of the 1960s were torn down for newer, more neoclassical venues.
"We are very pleased to see the Dodgers commit to remain at a ‘new’ Dodger Stadium," baseball commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement.
The construction around Dodger Stadium isn’t expected to impact baseball operations. There are no concerts currently on the schedule. The venue has been the site of historic shows by Elton John and The Three Tenors, as well as concerts with The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band and The Police.
Dodger Stadium, built in 1962, will be the third-oldest in Major League Baseball once the New York Yankees move from the original House that Ruth Built next year, following Boston’s Fenway Park and Chicago’s Wrigley Field.
But while fans may be notorious for heading to the parking lots during the 7th inning stretch, they have made it known to McCourt and Los Angeles officials that tinkering with Dodger Stadium should not be taken lightly.
Instead, "the jewel of Chavez Ravine" will be rebuilt from the inside out. Plans include a tree-lined "Dodger Way" entrance to a landscaped grand plaza behind the present outfield pavilion that will connect to a promenade of restaurants, shops and a Dodgers museum, creating a "city within a city" fan experience.
Acres of parking around the stadium will be ripped out and turned into a perimeter walkway, which the team is calling "the green necklace," allowing fans to move outdoors around the ballpark while inside the gates. One plaza will have views encompassing downtown Los Angeles, the Pacific Ocean and surrounding mountains.
The $500 million project will include green initiatives that will meet Silver LEED standards, a commitment to increased public transportation options to the stadium and the planting of nearly 2,000 trees onsite.
Inside Dodger Stadium, the team will implement sustainable measures that will lower energy use, conserve millions of gallons of water and promote recycling.
Operational enhancements to the stadium will include reconfigured concessions, merchandise and storage facilities, a central ticketing facility and lounge, two new terraced and landscaped structures on either side of the venue and an underground parking facility. There is also new office space for onsite security personnel, operational staff and the Dodger Dream Foundation.
Los Angeles architectural firm Johnson Fain will lead an overall design team with a goal of preserving Dodger Stadium’s features while bringing it up to date. HKS Sports & Entertainment Group will oversee renovations and Rios Clemente Hale brings its expertise in environmental design solutions into the greening and landscaping segments of the project.