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Dodger Stadium Remodel: Nice, But How about the Nuts and Bolts?

July 24th, 2019 · No Comments · Baseball


Two years ago I suggested it was time to tear down and replace Dodger Stadium, perhaps the least comfortable big-league ballpark still in use.

That has not happened. And some fans made clear to me that they believe tearing down Dodger Stadium was a horrible ideal.

But I will concede the Dodgers did the next-best thing:

They are remodeling the facility, with an emphasis on a two-acre multipurpose area between the current pavilions, “deep center field”, if you will, where the stadium will have a recognizable front door, for the first time, and lots of new amenities.

I applaud this. Mostly.

The club announced yesterday it will spend $100 million on refurbishing and brightening that deep place in CF, bringing restaurants and sports bars and a kids’ play area in that two-acre space in deep center — which has been mostly empty since the stadium opened, in 1962.

Stan Kasten, the club president, said he hoped the sprawling plaza and its statues and amenities would bring fans to the park earlier and encourage them to stay later — a valid concern, given fans’ historic patterns of late arrivals and early departures, in part because of traffic concerns.

And he vowed the hilly backdrop, in deep center, with palm trees, will not be touched. Good call; fans seem strangely attached to the palms.

All this is supposed to be finished ahead of the 2020 season. And certainly it should be done before the All-Star Game is played there, next July, for the first time since 1980.

I still have some worries for the third-oldest yard in the game. (Only Boston’s Fenway, opened in 1912, and Chicago’s Wrigley, in 1914, are older.)

Most of my key concerns are not being addressed. To wit: 1) The stadium still has thousands and thousands of horrible, way-down-the-foul-line seats in what used to be called the “reserve” level; 2) the drab, rectilinear stadium layout is a tribute to cookie-cutter mid-century modern which likely would not be missed; 3) the seats are meant to fit Angelenos from the early 1960s, not from the plumper 2020s; and 4) nuts-and-bolts parts of the yard, in the seating areas and stairs, are rusting out or crumbling.

The makeover ultimately will bulk up the bottom line, but will it fix pavement and replace loose bolts? (Two sports bars!)

I like to think the club — and most Southern California fans prefer to think positively about the Dodgers — is doing this “plaza” thing as a colorful grabber for national TV audiences, when the all-stars gather, next July.

Maybe the year after that the Dodgers can get back to fixing, literally, the nuts and bolts of a 58-year-old stadium.

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