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Vast upgrades being made to Dodger Stadium

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LOS ANGELES -- New ownership promised fans an improved Dodger Stadium and on Tuesday held an event to prove it's coming.

With heavy construction ongoing on all five levels and into the ground, officials confirmed details of upgrades to bring the 51-year-old landmark "into the 21st century" and improve the fan experience, according to club president Stan Kasten, who said the speculated $100 million price tag is "as good as any to use."

Kasten said he's "sure we will be considered" to host the All-Star Game for the first time since 1980 because of the improvements, and he also gave assurances that the ambitious work will be completed in time for the March 28 exhibition game against the Angels.

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"We're doing about a hundred things and left out another 100 things because we only had 25 weeks to get it all done by Opening Day," Kasten said. "Everything we need to hold a game and 56,000 fans will get done."

Kasten said capacity will remain at that figure and, when the work is done, Dodger Stadium will still look and feel like Dodger Stadium, only better.

"You will feel like you're in Dodger Stadium," he said. "We'll create a more comfortable feel while retaining the classic look."

The most obvious upgrade -- and the one senior vice president of planning and development Janet Marie Smith mentioned first -- is the replacement of the scoreboards located above the right- and left-field pavilions with larger, 1080 high-definition LED boards, as well as replacement of message boards, including ribbon boards at the Loge level and outfield wall.

The rectangular one that has been in left field since the last All-Star Game is being returned to the hexagon shape of the original. The boards will be 22 percent larger with an active viewing area 66 percent larger, allowing for more video and statistical information to be displayed.

A new, sharper sound system comes with it, designed to direct sound to each seating section and minimize echoes.

Responding to complaints from fans, a state-of-the-art Wi-Fi and cellular antenna system will go live to support cellphone and Internet connectivity.

There also is major work being done to widen concourses, expand and renovate restrooms, enhance food service, build new entry plazas and create bullpen overlooks for standing-room views of the game. Restrooms will be installed under the outfield pavilions and more wheelchair locations will be created.

"The increase in fixtures in the women's restrooms will be 62 percent and in the men's 32 percent," Smith said, addressing a shortage that has plagued the stadium since its opening.

For the players, a new clubhouse is being installed, along with an expanded weight room and underground batting cages.

"That was a hot-button issue for Mark [Walter, chairman]," said Kasten. "He wants the finest training center in all of sports."

To make all of this happen, Smith's project required heavy work on the infrastructure, which is wedged between the superstructure and the mountain the stadium is built into. To expand the concourses, several rows of seats will be removed. Also, sight lines on the Baseline box seats will be improved.

The Dodgers will go green by installing new water valves, low-flush fixtures, waterless urinals, hand driers, automatic faucets and new power and lighting energy efficient systems.

Playground areas will be created for children in the pavilion and Reserve Level that will include life-size bobbleheads.

Smith said the franchise's history will be celebrated by displaying retired uniform numbers at the Top of the Park, giant World Series rings representing the six World Series championships and a display of Gold Glove, MVP and Cy Young Awards at the Dugout Club as "an inspiration to fans and players."

"From the outset, the new ownership of our Los Angeles Dodgers committed to putting fans first and to being good neighbors," said Councilmember Ed P. Reyes. "As a fan, I appreciate everything they are doing to enhance the Dodger Stadium experience, and as Councilmember, I appreciate that they have taken the surrounding neighborhood into account, particularly with regards to their echo-reducing sound system."

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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