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His Dad Was Right All Along

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A new site linking the Los Angeles skyline with Peter O’Malley’s vision of a landmark football facility high on a hill just outside Dodger Stadium has emerged as the favored location in a team-commissioned feasibility study to be released in early July.

When O’Malley initially responded to Mayor Richard Riordan’s request to explore the possibility of building a stadium, he set aim on the parking lot on the north side of the baseball stadium near the police academy. That site is no longer under consideration.

The new location--near Gate 2 on the south side, between home plate and first base--has the edge so far on other considered sites down the left-field line and beyond center field.

In the original design of Dodger Stadium more than 35 years ago, Walter O’Malley came to the same location down the first-base line now being eyed by his son, and had the roof above the present-day gift shop reinforced so he could build an apartment for his family, providing an impressive view of both the city and the mountains.

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“That’s how much my dad loved this site,” O’Malley said. “But my mom told my dad that we were not going to live in a ballpark.”

If all goes according to present plan, Peter O’Malley will climb to the top of his new football stadium one day--and by design from the 50-yard line--and be able to capture the same view that had so intrigued his father.

“It’s just a magnificent setting,” O’Malley said. “Nothing is final yet, but the leading site presently offers the view, is furthest away from Elysian Park and is the most proximate to the freeways.”

While still awaiting final feasibility results before an anticipated announcement in early July, O’Malley continues to make neighborhood concessions.

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If he proceeds, O’Malley said, he will reduce stadium capacity from 80,000 to 70,000 to satisfy the neighbors’ traffic and parking concerns, although the NFL demands 72,000 seats to host a Super Bowl.

Roger Goodell, NFL vice president for league development, said if O’Malley’s bid to build a stadium and own a team is accepted, it would undoubtedly embrace his stadium as a potential Super Bowl site, regardless of capacity.

“We’re very impressed with the way the Dodgers have approached the feasibility of building a football stadium,” Goodell said. “There are several good alternatives in Los Angeles, but you have to be impressed by Peter O’Malley’s desire to do everything right.”

O’Malley continues to compete for NFL favor with Hollywood Park, which recently added the assistance of agent Leigh Steinberg, and the Coliseum.

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“Any project he’s involved in will no doubt have amazing success,” Steinberg said of O’Malley. “Perhaps he will get the second team that comes to Los Angeles.”

The Coliseum, like Hollywood Park, is interested in landing a relocated team, but indications are that the NFL will not act favorably on such a move.

“We are not going to compete with the Coliseum,” O’Malley said. “If the elected officials and the football fans of the greater Los Angeles area believe that the Coliseum site is the place to reintroduce the NFL to Los Angeles, I would understand that. I would accept that.

“However, the NFL has said no existing site in Los Angeles should be the solution. A 21st-Century, dynamic, creative, exciting stadium is the solution, whether we’re involved or not, with the introduction of an expansion team. And at some point the community and sports fans must come together on some site.”

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The Coliseum, which continues to fight for NFL attention, has yet to receive much. The NFL values Hollywood Park as a viable option, but appears more eager to see if O’Malley will fully commit himself in early July to building a stadium.

All indications are that he will.

O’Malley’s team of advisors has already met with 50 top business officials in the area to ask what they would like in a football stadium. There have been meetings almost nightly with Dodger Stadium neighborhood groups.

“We have learned a tremendous amount from our neighbors,” O’Malley said, “and looking back over the last 35 years I wish we had devoted the same time and attention that we have in the last three or four months.”

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Telephone calls to the office of Councilman Michael Hernandez, who represents the Dodger Stadium area, were not returned.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

New NFL Plans

Approximate locations being considered for a pro football stadium next to Dodger Stadium:

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The leading choice: (A) is south of Dodger Stadium, over-looking downtown Los Angeles.

Alternate sites: (B) is near service station outside centerfield.

(C) is outside stadium’s third base, left field area.

(D) the original selection, has been shelved.

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Next Step: A final decision on the location of a stadium is expected in early July.


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