The Dodgers on Tuesday will unveil plans for a $100-million renovation of Dodger Stadium that will provide a new center field plaza as well as elevators and bridges that will connect the outfield pavilions to the rest of the stadium.
The project is expected to be complete in time for next season. The announcement will be made during a news conference where the logo for the 2020 MLB All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium is expected to be revealed.
Spread over two acres, the new center field plaza will include food establishments, a beer garden, two sports bars, a children’s play area, and a space for live pregame and postgame music. Fans will be able to watch the game from above a new batter’s eye in straightaway center field and from standing positions that ring the seating areas.
The entrance to the plaza will feature a Jackie Robinson statue, which will be relocated from the left-field reserve plaza. It will also serve as permanent home for the “Legends of Dodger Baseball” plaques. Don Newcombe, Steve Garvey and Fernando Valenzuela comprised this year’s inaugural class of “legends."
“We’re finally going to have a front door with this entertainment plaza we’re building below and beyond the pavilions,” said Stan Kasten, Dodgers president and chief executive. “It’s going to act like a two-acre tailgating area pre- and postgame.”
The left-field and right-field pavilions will have new restrooms, enclosed bars with views into the bullpens, enhanced seating for those with disabilities and “home run seats” just beyond the outfield wall in front of the pavilion seats where there is currently a gap.
Elevators and escalators in the right-field and left-field plazas will allow all spectators, regardless of ticket location, access to the plaza. Bridges will connect the new pavilions’ standing-room decks to the rest of the stadium. It will be the first time since the stadium opened in 1962 that fans will be able to walk the entire ballpark’s perimeter from any level inside the venue.
“People will be able to do a 360-degree walk around the stadium for the first time,” Kasten said. “The original design of the stadium was for fans to drive up to their gate, go to their seats and go home.”
The Dodgers will also replace the speaker tower in center field with a new sound system. Since purchasing the Dodgers in 2012, Guggenheim Baseball Management says it has spent more than $300 million on renovations to Dodger Stadium, including two new entrance plazas on the field level, bar areas overlooking both bullpens, two new HD video screens, new team stores, wider concourses, renovated restrooms, enhanced concessions and children’s play areas as well as the construction of new home and visiting clubhouses, batting cages and weight rooms.
“When we got here in 2012 we recognized then what remains true today — the design and construction of Dodger Stadium is a work of genius,” Kasten said. “It is the most beautiful place ever built to play or watch the game of baseball. But when we got here, there had been 50 years’ worth of work that needed to be done to make it a 21st century ballpark. It’s the third-oldest ballpark in baseball, but it now offers all the amenities of a modern-day ballpark.”
The stadium renovation was spearheaded by Kasten and Janet Marie Smith, who has been the Dodgers’ senior vice president of planning and development since 2012.
“This is all meant to be a celebration of the Dodgers and Dodgers history and provide fans with the kind of amenities that you see at new ballparks without changing our postcard view,” Smith said. “We relish the beauty of this place and want to preserve that. I know when fans hear we’re renovating the pavilions the first thing they ask is what’s going to happen to the wooden benches. The answer is they’re staying in place. None of those things that fans love will change. We’re just improving the experience.”
Dodger Stadium will host the All-Star Game next season for the first time since 1980, but Kasten said getting the game wasn’t contingent on making the renovations. “We’re just using that game as an opportunity to make the ballpark shine,” he said. “This just seemed like the perfect time.”
The stadium will maintain its league-high capacity, which is listed at 56,000. And despite all the changes, club officials say the picturesque view of Chavez Ravine fans have become accustomed to will not be disrupted.
“Maybe the most important thing that drove me and Janet during this process is when you’re sitting in your seat at Dodger Stadium, whether you’re on the field level or in the top deck, it’s going to look the same as it did before,” Kasten said. “That Dodger Stadium view from foul pole to foul pole is just timeless and iconic and we didn’t want to change that.
“The bleachers, the palm trees and the San Gabriel Mountains, that is never changing as long as we’re around.”