There is not a whole lot about the Dodger Stadium renovation that the Dodgers haven’t already discussed, so Tuesday’s news conference mostly focused on the details.
Which is probably good, because anyone who glanced out the Stadium Club windows at the construction going on and considered the big picture would have to wonder how it can possibly be completed in time for the Dodgers’ March 28 exhibition game against the Angels.
The giant holes inside each foul line remain open, and the stadium remains cut out to the loge level.
“This is a very ambitious project,” said Dodgers Chief Executive Stan Kasten. “I think it’s going to get done by opening day. But the unforeseen is the unforeseeable.
“Maybe some back-of-the-house things won’t be done. But we’re confident everything we need in terms of seating and comfort for our fans will be done by March 28th.”
Better hope it’s a mild winter; an unseasonably wet next couple of months could spell trouble, though Kasten said they were prepared to tarp the construction to continue the work. But what if the renovation is not done before the season starts?
“We do have contingency plans, none of which I’m going to tell you because it’s not going to happen,” he said.
Architect Janet Marie Smith highlighted some fresh details:
Two to four rows at the top of seating sections will be removed, adding about eight to 14 additional feet of room along the crowded concourses.
(Kasten said despite that, seating capacity would remain at 56,000. Which makes you wonder if the previous Frank McCourt remodel pushed capacity over the mandated maximum.)
Both scoreboards above the pavilions are being replaced with high-def video boards. The original hexagon shape will return to the board above left field, but the new LED boards will be 22% larger. Because the entire scoreboard will be able to show video, however, there will be a 66% increase in viewing area.
There will also be a smaller, rectangular scoreboard beneath the video boards to constantly show out-of-town scores. The ribbon board around the loge level will also be updated.
Smith said the restrooms will be completely renovated, including 62% of additional space for women and 32% for men. Restrooms will be added under the pavilions.
The sound system is being replaced in center field and throughout the stadium. Additional speakers will be directed to each section, attempting to minimize echoes. Fans will be able to hear the game broadcast at concessions stands and in restrooms.
- Upgraded and additional concessions, kids’ areas, new field-level entrances, wheelchair seating, historic displays, state-of-the-art Wi-Fi and cellphone service, six feet of additional foul space, deeper bullpens, new clubhouses, training rooms and batting cages are also scheduled.
That’s a lot to complete in a 51-year-old ballpark in just 78 days. Foundations still have not been poured. Kasten said it was still uncertain what the renovation will cost, though the previously mentioned $100-million price tag “was as good as any.”
Smith previously worked at Fenway, Turner Field and Camden Yards. She said the difference in her charge this time was the others were concerned with revenue-generating features, while this renovation was focused on improving the stadium for fans.
Despite all the work, the general outline of the stadium will be little altered.
“I think we’re ready to accomplish all these things without changing the way people feel when they come,” Kasten said.
“It will still feel like the place you love, still feel like Dodger Stadium.”
Kasten said he was hopeful after the renovations have been completed, Dodger Stadium will be considered to host an All-Star game, something it hasn’t done since 1980.
“This stadium will be second to none,” he said. “It will be equal to or surpass any other stadium in baseball.”
Kasten did, however, ask for some patience from fans during the first homestand or two.
“There are no dry runs until 56,000 show up,” he said.