They’re No Fans of Chavez Ravine Football Stadium


The folks of Chavez Ravine don’t want a repeat of the 1950s.

Back then, they fought against a baseball stadium, but Walter O’Malley, who moved his baseball team here from Brooklyn, persuaded L.A.’s leaders that more than 300 acres of city-owned land in Elysian Park were ideal for his Dodger Stadium.

He got the land in a sweetheart deal that left the city with a minor-league ballpark in South-Central L.A.

The residents, who feared traffic and noise problems would forever change their neighborhoods, were powerless to stop the deal. They watched helplessly as some Elysian Park residents were physically evicted from their homes in tiny barrios with names like Palo Verde, Bishop and Loma.


Now, more than 30 years later, the residents who still are there say their worst fears have come true. Each baseball season brings more trash, more graffiti, more boorish outsiders who treat the area like their private bathroom.

So you can imagine their reaction to news that the National Football League wants to return to L.A. and that Walter’s son, current Dodger owner Peter O’Malley, might build a state-of-the-art football stadium on his land next door to Dodger Stadium:

“[Expletive deleted].”


At a special City Council committee meeting staged in Elysian Park the other night, I heard plenty of obscenities. They were part of the vocabulary of opposition the overwhelming majority of the 250 in the crowd were voicing.

The names of 1950s Mayor Norris Poulson, Councilwoman Rosalind Wyman and County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn may bring applause in the rest of the city for their work in landing the Dodgers, but at this meeting the crowd had a long memory, and booed each time the pols were mentioned.

Another sweetheart deal won’t be tolerated, the speakers bluntly warned. “We’re more sophisticated, we’re better educated,” said Virginia Pinedo-Bye, whose family has lived in the Solano neighborhood northeast of Dodger Stadium since the Mexican revolution of 1910. “And we’re voters.”

Another speaker glared at Councilman Mike Hernandez, and told him, “I voted for you, not for the NFL.”


A former Dodgers season-ticket holder who sold sodas at the ballpark as a teenager, Hernandez will oppose a football stadium unless the residents accept it. “I was willing to look for support [for a football stadium] but I haven’t found it,” Hernandez told me after the meeting.

Councilwoman Jackie Goldberg was applauded when she reported that constituent phone calls and letters to her office were running “roughly” 150 to 1 against the proposal.

Some speakers recalled the forcible evictions of some families from Elysian Park.

Father Juan Santillan, an L.A. recreation and parks commissioner and a longtime Eastside activist, told the audience that third base today sits atop the spot where his family was thrown out of their home. The audience quietly listened to the priest, and when he finished with the words, “Please don’t let them do this all over again,” they erupted in wild cheers.

Even devoted Dodger fan Raul Perez, who lives near the stadium entrance and walks to games, opposed the football stadium plan. While the Dodgers do contribute to some worthy community programs, Perez said they haven’t been very good neighbors. After each home game, he has to scrub off graffiti that appear on his condo’s walls.

“The Dodgers bring a great amount of pride to Los Angeles and you should credit them for treating their fans with respect and appreciation,” said Perez, an attorney. “But what about the people who are most intimate with them? Their neighbors?

“It’s obvious there’s a lack of intimacy between the Dodgers and the [nearby] communities. The community at large lives outside of Elysian Park and doesn’t have to live with the consequences once the games are over.”



I hope the residents win out this time. L.A. is no longer a minor-league city that needs to demolish buildings or neighborhoods to feel grown-up. We’re a big-league metropolis, so why wage war over Elysian Park when more pressing battles need our attention in the ‘90s??

Personally, I favor the Coliseum, but if a new football stadium must be built, let’s put it where it will be welcomed. The NFL already has Hollywood Park, El Segundo and Anaheim on its list, and any of those sound fine to me.

One team in Chavez Ravine is more than enough. O’Malley should take his pigskin and go home.