Dodger Stadium, the third oldest in the U.S. after Boston’s Fenway Park and Chicago’s Wrigley Field, has been renovated over the last two years and on a sunny Saturday morning more than 35 Trusteeship members and their families saw firsthand what a $100 million project looks like.
It looks amazing, everyone agreed, thanks to the Trusteeship members who led our tour: Janet Marie Smith, Senior Vice President, Planning & Development for the Dodgers; architect Brenda Levin of Levin and Associates; and landscape architect Mia Lehrer, president of Mia Lehrer & Associates. These three women, each top in her field, worked together to bring the venerable home of the Dodgers into the 21st century while preserving the club’s rich history. As we enjoyed breakfast overlooking the right-field bullpen, Janet Marie—well-known for her work with the Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves—described the changes with the enthusiasm of a true sports fan. “We worked hard to take some things that were vintage 1962 and not in a good way and transform this place into something that’s really worthy of the marquee name of the Dodgers,” she said.
Renovations, which began in the winter of 2012, included new HD hexagonal video boards, a new sound system, wider concourses, more standing room viewing areas, improved restrooms and two children’s playgrounds among others. “I think the thing that I’ve enjoyed the most is the expansion of the walk ways,” said Janet Marie. “Sometimes the best way to make things different is to change the footprint. It’s great to preserve the parking spaces and the automobile culture but it’s even better if we can make it feel like you’ve arrived. These places are worthy of having our fans come early and stay late and giving them things to do that they just couldn’t do with a smaller footprint.”
Brenda has renovated many of L.A.’s iconic buildings including City Hall and the Griffith Observatory. “Here at Dodger Stadium, the architecture of the new team stores and concessions on the top deck and reserve level take their inspiration from the 1962 original architecture and form,” she said. “The use of corrugated metal panels, decorative concrete block, recreated from the original molds, the roof shape of the new concessions, which reference the stadium roof canopies, are all elements informed by the context of the stadium’s classic modern architecture.”
Along with more pleasing aesthetics and additional space, fans can enjoy expanded food choices such as Tommy Lasorda’s Italian and hot-off-the-grill BBQ. The popular Reserve Level La Taqueria stand also has been expanded and is adjacent to several electronics charging stations and the kids’ play area. “There’s wi-fi available everywhere…now it’s possible for 56,000 people to send and receive text messages here,” said Brenda.
Favorite stops on the tour were the Dodger clubhouse, which has almost doubled in size and been brought up to today’s standards, the press box with its expansive view, modern food service and—of course—Vin Scully’s special seat, and the interview room, familiar to all fans as the “hot seat” after losses and the winner’s circle after victories.
Mia’s contributions to the renovation enhance the openness and welcoming aspect of the stadium with a series of plazas that direct fans inside and allow them to spend time in areas with team stores, food or other amenities. “We wanted to make this an inviting place…and added fun elements such as oversized baseballs celebrating Cy Young award winners, retired numbers sculptures and several really fun life-size Dodger bobble heads,” she said.
The ballpark’s landscaping was enhanced with the replanting of all 33 trees in the outfield and more than double that amount were planted, giving the Dodgers’ full-time arborist (the only one in major league baseball) plenty of work. The famous Three Sisters palm trees behind the left-field bullpen remain.