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Volume 26 No. 28
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SBJ All-Access: A Changing Landscape For L.A.'s Venue Scene

The 2019 AXS Sports Facilities & Franchises conference hit the road for its final day on Thursday, taking attendees around the L.A. area for visits/sessions at Dodger Stadium and the L.A. Stadium & Entertainment District at Hollywood Park (LASED), which includes the under-construction SoFi Stadium. The first stop of the day was Chavez Ravine just north of downtown, and attendees got a look at MLB's third-oldest ballpark ahead of an offseason that will see it get a $100 million facelift. With the Dodgers having locked up the NL West on Sept. 10 -- the earliest the team has ever locked up the division -- signage for the Division Series were already up in certain parts of the ballpark. After attendees toured the facility, Dodgers President & CEO Stan Kasten and Dodgers Business Enterprise President Tucker Kain sat for a Q&A on the state of the club and the pending upgrades to MLB's largest venue.

A big thank you to all of our attendees at this year's event in L.A. Up next is the Octagon Sports Marketing Symposium from October 15-16 at the Crowne Plaza Times Square Manhattan. Check out details on the agenda and speaker faculty, as well as how to register.

 

MY BLUE HEAVEN

Attendees got to tour Dodger Stadium on the final day of the SFF conference
  • While plenty of change is coming to Dodger Stadium this offseason, the upgrades won’t take away from the retro feel that has come to identify the 57-year-old venue. Included in the renovations are a new centerfield plaza, elevators (which are already being installed) and bridges that will connect the ballpark’s pavilions. Kasten -- while giving due credit to Senior VP/Planning & Development Janet Marie Smith in the back of the room -- noted the new plaza will provide a true main entrance for the first time and will also maintain the classic view from home plate looking out over the San Gabriel Mountains. “Our postcard view, with everything we’re doing next year, is not changing."

  • Kasten said of keeping staff from getting complacent after leading MLB in attendance for seven straight years: "We are the franchise of Jackie Robinson. There is no franchise that has had the impact on popular culture or society at large as the Dodgers. ... Motivating people here has just never been a very big challenge." Kain added: "In every position we’re challenging people to continue to carry this brand forward and take it to the next level."

  • Extended netting has been a very public issue for all MLB teams this season. Following an incident with an injured fan this summer, the Dodgers last month added netting down the lines. Kasten said of whether there have been any fan complaints: "Very few. I have more experience with this than average baseball executives because I was in the NHL. We had a tragedy where a child was killed and we immediately extended netting to the bends in the boards. What I learned there, as passionate as hockey fans are, it took them about 30 seconds to get used to it."
Tucker Kain (l) and Stan Kasten talked about $100 million in changes coming to Dodger Stadium

 

SNEAK PEAK

  • Following the session at Dodger Stadium, attendees headed southwest toward Inglewood, but first stopped for lunch at the L.A. Stadium Premiere Center, which gives fans a look at what SoFi Stadium and the LASED plan to offer. Conference attendees were taken through a room-size model of the venue and surrounding development, which will include space for NFL Network studios, retail development, living spaces and more. 

  • LASED CTO Skarpi Hedinsson told attendees, "Technology is going to play such a big part in how these buildings are constructed.” One key piece of tech inside SoFi Stadium is the venue’s 2.4-million-pound center-hung video board, dubbed the "Oculus." “We’re focused on what is the right way to program that, what are the things we need in our presentation package. Not just the board itself, but what are the capabilities and content that will go on it." Hedinsson also gave insight into what will impress fans at SoFi Stadium.
The L.A. Stadium Premiere Center offered looks at what SoFi Stadium plans to offer

 

CITY OF CHAMPIONS

  • After leaving the Premiere Center, attendees headed over the Inglewood construction site for a guided bus tours of the grounds. Venues Solutions Group Managing Partner Russ Simons is among those helping oversee the LASED project and provided some interesting tidbits on the project:

    • The stadium is built 110 feet into the ground -- the deepest ever -- to comply with the FAA, as flight patterns for LAX are nearby. Simons said that was also done so the scale of the stadium “would not overpower the residences and the retail and everything about the lifestyle that’s being added."

    • Some 6.3 million cubic yards of soil were excavated from the stadium bowl, all of which will be replaced throughout the LASED site.

    • The center-hung "Oculus" scoreboard is 110 yards long, 60 yards wide, 4 stories high on the east and west ends and 2 ½ stories on the north and south sides. Simons said it will draw the building down by about 12 feet when it’s hung. “If I’m being honest with you, we’re still trying to figure out how to make it work,” Simons joked. “But we’ve got 9 months left.”

    • The Renaissance is a gated housing community that backs up to the construction site and LASED built an acoustical wall that measures over 20 feet in order to cut down on construction noise. Workers also put over 1 million gallons of water on the project every day to keep dirt and dust down.
A tour of the L.A. Stadium & Entertainment District concluded this year's conference