SBD/Issue 35/Facilities & Venues

Dodger Stadium Renovation Delayed Amid Challenging Economy

The Dodgers' $500M ballpark renovation has been delayed, but the cause is the challenging economy and not any uncertainty regarding team ownership, according to club officials. The Dodgers announced "The Next 50" project in April '08, focusing on continued improvements inside and outside Dodger Stadium. The team's goal was to start construction after the '09 season and complete all three phases by '12. With the credit markets drying up during the past 18 months, it has been difficult for the Dodgers to obtain financing for refurbishing the 47-year-old facility, team VP/PR & Broadcasting Josh Rawitch said. "Despite the fact everyone knows the credit markets are challenging, we're fully expecting to move forward with the project," Rawitch said. The Dodgers have been working with city leaders to review and approve the project, which will help determine when the club can break ground. Finishing all three phases by '12 is unrealistic at this time, Rawitch said. Proposed upgrades include Dodger Way beyond center field with a landscaped grand plaza; two outfield restaurants; the "green necklace," a perimeter walkway outside the stadium; and Top of the Park, a separate outdoor plaza with views to the city skyline, Santa Monica Bay and two mountain ranges. In addition, two new parking towers and an underground garage would replace surface lots outside the ballpark. The Dodgers' plan to pay off construction costs would include selling naming rights to five newly-branded gate entries. "This really is no different than the countless other construction projects in Los Angeles and across the country that have slowed over the past 18 months due to the challenging economic times," Rawitch said. Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt spearheaded "The Next 50" plan to address the future of the facility. McCourt and his wife, Jamie, the club's former CEO, have separated and are fighting for control of the team. HKS, the Dallas sports designer that redeveloped U.S. Cellular Field into a more fan-friendly ballpark for the White Sox, is planning Dodger Stadium's renovation. In the past two years, the Dodgers have invested millions to renovate the concourses and install new seats, Rawitch said.

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