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Dodger Stadium's $100M makeover 'on target'

@kengurnick
December 17, 2019

LOS ANGELES -- While Clayton Kershaw and teammates were locked in a snowball fight with local children at the Dodgers’ annual Holiday Party last week, club president Stan Kasten, equipped with a hard hat and reflective safety vest, monitored the dramatic renovation of soon-to-be 58-year-old Dodger Stadium. To coincide with

LOS ANGELES -- While Clayton Kershaw and teammates were locked in a snowball fight with local children at the Dodgers’ annual Holiday Party last week, club president Stan Kasten, equipped with a hard hat and reflective safety vest, monitored the dramatic renovation of soon-to-be 58-year-old Dodger Stadium.

To coincide with hosting the MLB All-Star Game next July for the first time since 1980, Guggenheim Baseball Management is in the midst of an additional $100 million makeover at Chavez Ravine, having already spent $200 million on the venue since taking over the club in 2012.

The ambitious current project is being crammed into the tight window of a five-month offseason, necessitating a virtual around-the-clock undertaking to present fans with a belated holiday gift for Opening Day on Thursday, March 26, against the Giants.

“We are on target, but we don’t have a minute to spare,” said Janet Marie Smith, the highly acclaimed senior vice president of planning and development who oversees the entire project.

The centerpiece, literally, is a new center-field plaza that will serve as a “front door” to the complex. Fans will be greeted at the plaza by two statues -- one of Jackie Robinson, relocated from the reserve level, and a new one of Sandy Koufax. A permanent home for “Legends of Dodger Baseball” will also reside there.

Smith said the mandate from Kasten was to modernize the iconic venue while preserving the postcard backdrop of the San Gabriel Mountains.

“We want it to reflect the vibrancy of the fanbase and the can-do spirit of the community,” said Smith. “We won’t diminish the original design, but we will make the park more current. We are making adjustments for ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] sensibilities that weren’t part of the original design, because it’s the right thing to do.”

Smith said there will be no changes to the field dimensions or the original 56,000-seat capacity. The plaza will consist of nearly two acres of food offerings, a craft beer garden, entertainment and kids' areas, retail locations and sponsor activations.

Attendee circulation will be greatly improved with the installation of six elevators and four escalators to provide greater vertical access to the rest of the ballpark. The left- and right-field pavilions are being refreshed and a new sound system is replacing the speaker tower.

Perhaps most noticeable will be an aesthetically designed batter’s eye, eliminating the previous tarp and scaffolding where television cameras had resided.

“I like to compare what we’re doing to a cake that’s been baked,” said Smith. “We’re just changing the icing and the candles.”

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.