Opinion asked designers, artists and architects how the land in Chavez Ravine should be used:

Janet Marie Smith is an architect and urban designer who rebuilt Camden Yards in Baltimore and oversaw the design of the new stadium for the Atlanta Braves, which opened this month

Since 1987, $2.3 billion has been spent in building 10 new baseball parks in the United States. For the most part, their construction has been publicly funded. The teams, moreover, have been enticed to move into the new facilities through various financial and opportunistic incentives, including sharing revenue generated by developing adjacent real estate.

The addition of baseball to urban environments has been good for business. The new parks not only utilize existing public and commercial infrastructure, but the restaurants, retail, entertainment and meeting spaces created within their gates are used during non-event times. Stadia are a major addition to cities, changing their boundaries, creating new user groups for downtowns, feeding existing businesses, parking and transportation arteries.

Baseball has also proved to be a good neighbor to residential areas. At older parks like Wrigley Field in Chicago and newer parks like Camden Yards in Baltimore, well-established residential neighborhoods are a part of the urban tapestry surrounding the stadium. If properly designed, the stadium serves as a popular neighborhood focal point and gives the neighborhood added identity.


But can the mere presence of a baseball park, no matter how attractive the stadium or the amenities within, create a real-estate market? It hasn’t happened in the 40 years the Los Angeles Dodgers have been in Elysian Park. In other words, urban or suburban, affluent or impoverished, big or small, the development of adjacent land will only occur if there is a vision for a development plan that is fundable and market-driven, independent of the team’s presence. If development occurs, the team could surely be both a draw and a beneficiary.

The popularity of in-town neighborhoods like Silver Lake and Echo Park, and the emergence of development around Union Station, City Hall and Chinatown support the notion that a properly planned, mixed-use development could co-exist with Dodger Stadium on the 365-plus acres of Chavez Ravine, comfortably providing needed parking for business, residential, entertainment and baseball alike. But the success of such a development will be dependent on the market value and desirability of the location, proposed uses and image of the project. Mere proximity to Dodger Stadium isn’t enough.