SBD/Issue 150/Facilities & Venues

McCourt Unveils $500M, Privately-Funded Dodger Stadium Upgrade

Villaraigosa (l) And McCourt Examine
Model Of Post-Renovation Dodger Stadium
Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt Thursday unveiled plans for a $500M renovation of Dodger Stadium, set to be completed by 2012, that would include "parking structures, a Dodgers history museum and a landscaped plaza behind center field connecting to shops and restaurants," according to Hernandez & Shaikin of the L.A. TIMES. McCourt said that the upgrades would allow the ballpark, opened in '62, to "flourish for another 50 years." The renovation, to be privately financed, will cost more than the $430M McCourt paid for the Dodgers and the ballpark in '04. McCourt "challenged civic leaders to follow his investment by extending bus and subway lines" to the park. L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at a Thursday news conference said in response, "That clarion call, that challenge, I like that. Isn't it amazing that we built a public transportation system and it never connected to Dodger Stadium?" McCourt said that the recent economic downturn "would not affect his plans." McCourt: "We look at this thing in a very, very long-term, also generational fashion. We're not making these decisions based on what the economy is like today. We're making these decisions as huge optimists in the future of the Dodgers." McCourt added that the "loss of about 15 acres of parking, or about 2,000 spaces, would be offset by the construction of two parking garages ... and additional underground parking." The Dodgers, by "creating new public gathering spots such as the outfield promenade, museum and top-of-the-park terrace," are seeking to "bring customers out early, keep them there late and even attract visitors on non-game days." McCourt noted that the team Thursday filed paperwork "to acquire the necessary permits for the stadium improvements and that he hoped work could begin after the 2009 season." The team already unveiled plans to renovate the ballpark's loge level and clubhouses after the '09 season, and McCourt said that the Dodgers also were "considering installing" HD scoreboards" (L.A. TIMES, 4/25).

MORE CHANGES: McCourt added that in the short term he hoped to "bring bus service" to the ballpark. But McCourt said that the "'dream-come-true scenario' would be to have two Metrolink lines intersect at Dodger Stadium so fans from all four directions could take public transportation to games." Additionally, plans call for a "Green Necklace" to line the perimeter of the park, "razing approximately 15 acres of parking lot and adding more than 2,000 trees." The designs were completed by HKS and Johnson Fain, in collaboration with McCourt (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 4/25). The team also will add a new Dodgers retail store and central ticketing facility. McCourt said in a statement: "We're creating a new stadium without tearing down the old" (Riverside PRESS-ENTERPRISE, 4/25).

Dodgers Hoping Renovations Will Make Ballpark
Year-Round Destination For Fans, Consumers
IF YOU BUILD IT, WILL THEY COME? L.A. TIMES architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne writes the additions "are all connected to a single goal: to extend the amount of time a typical visitor spends at the stadium." As a result, the success of the renovations "won't be hard to gauge." If there are "scores of Angelenos milling around the stadium grounds on, say, a Saturday afternoon in January 2013, snapping up foam fingers and [Dodgers C] Russell Martin jerseys, then McCourt's ideas for updating the landmark will look prescient." But if Dodger fans "bolster their reputation for showing up in the third inning and beginning the walk to their cars in the eighth -- and not even thinking about the stadium during the winter months -- we'll be justified in wondering whether that $500[M] was worth it." (L.A. TIMES, 4/25).

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