Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Making 51-Year Old Dodger Stadium a 21st Century Gem

I never really gave it much thought, but the photographic evidence makes sense.  In order for the Dodgers to expand the clubhouses and make them completely modernized, the only way that can be done is by excavating, and that has resulted in another major renovation project at Dodger Stadium.  Out go the seats in the lower bowl again.  For the third time in the past 10 years.

This photograph below was posted by Patrick O’Neal on his twitter account.   As you can see, the gutting of Dodger Stadium this off season is underway again. 

(photo by Patrick O'Neal, Twitter photograph)

New Senior Vice President of Planning and Development, Janet Marie Smith, was hired in August.  She brings experience that involved the construction of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, refurbishing 90 year old Fenway Park and earlier she did the same in Atlanta converting the Olympic Stadium into Turner Field in a 7 month period in 1996.  Making some key upgrades at Dodger Stadium should be a piece of cake with that track record.  She entered on the job and hit the ground running full steam.

One of the first statements made by Smith was something that must have pleased most Dodger fans.  That was that she liked the 1950's retro feel of Dodger Stadium and she didn't want to change that.  She also said that making upgrades at Chavez Ravine will be much easier than a place like Fenway, that was constricted by limited real estate.  With Dodger Stadium, there is room for upgrades.

So as the season ended and the work began, the first priorities in upgrades are improvements that few fans see but are of vital importance.  The clubhouses need to be enlarged and modernized.  Don Mattingly’s office was the former groundskeepers room, a windowless cinderblock framed room that had all the charm of a jail cell with carpeting. The clubhouse kitchen/dining area was miniscule in size and had inadequate plumbing, thus forcing caterer’s to come in and improvise.  The locker room? Well, my high school locker room was more spacious and when September call ups arrived, there wasn’t any room to move.
A look at the spacious Padres locker room at Petco Park.

How did the horrid Dodger’s home digs affect potential free agent signees?  They certainly didn’t help, though I never heard anyone state that they stayed away for that reason.  However, every year when the Dodgers packed up and left Camelback Ranch for home after Spring Training, their spacious Arizona locker room was suddenly reduced in size by about 90%.  

This 1963 Dodgers locker room shot is familiar, it is the same locker room that the Dodgers have used for 51 years, with very few changes.

Dodger Stadium's one small underground batting cage was very inadequate.  The coaches dressed in one cramped room.  This lockeroom/clubhouse upgrade was long overdue and will only help the ball club as beautiful Dodger Stadium is upgraded to 21st century standards.

2012 photo of Dodger Locker room, the very same space used in the 1963 photo.  Only notable difference is the cubby holes above each dressing space. (photo by Allen J. Schaben/LA Times)

Aside from the clubhouse upgrades (and that is both the home and visitor clubhouses, with the exception of when the Giants come to town and the old clubhouse is reverted to original form -- joking), there will be Wifi in the stadium throughout and cell phone reception.  Plumbing upgrades should make matters easier in concessions and bathrooms.  Electrical modernization will allow the press box to be state of the art.  Then there are sound system upgrades that I assume will require some work.  The massive sound system beyond centerfield will be replaced with adequate amplification of sound in various strategic spots at the Stadium.  The echo effect will be minimized.

Then there are the expanded restaurant choices and bars.  Back in August Stan Kasten described the expansion as something that won’t be completed in one year saying “we’re on an aggressive timeline, we’d like to do as much as we can by opening day next year.”   

So as Dodger Stadium undergoes cosmetic surgery this off-season, a lot of the nuts and bolts of it is taking place in areas not visible to most of us, but reality is, these are vital renovations that are getting the 51-year old landmark up to present day standards.  Visually the changes won’t be to evident, but once inside, the fan experience is going to be a noticeable improvement.  And you’ll be able to call your family at home and tell them about it.


Breaking news this morning comes out of a Hollywood Tabloid, (at least I think it's a tabloid, since I'm not the type of person that frequents the entertainment pages of any source).  Nikki Finke with Deadline reports that the Dodgers are near a 25-year, $6 to $7 billion dollar deal with Fox.  

You can read Finke's article HERE.  Very interesting comments from a lot of Dodger fans follow the article.

MSTI addresses the ramifications of such a deal HERE

Chad Moriyama also discusses it.

I believe we'll see quite a bit of discussion on this the next few days.  If there is truly a November 30th deadline on such a pact with Fox, the Dodgers just may be dominating the news real soon.

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