Is it time for a new Dodger Stadium?
Do you still love Dodger Stadium, wrinkles and all? Consider it a gem, a civic treasure?
Or has its time come and gone? Antiquated and more iconic than viable in 2010?
The Times’ T.J. Simers broaches the question in a Tuesday column advancing the idea of a new football stadium next to Staples Center downtown.
Simers reasons that the rich and famous who flock to Staples will walk down the hall to their new luxury suites at a state-of-the-art football stadium, but that aging Dodger Stadium will be left passé. The team would then be compelled to build a new ballpark to remain competitive, and as an added bonus, Simers figures that would force cash-strapped Frank McCourt to sell the team.
McCourt has already put his plans to renovate Dodger on indefinite hold, citing -- surprise -- financing difficulties. But his renovation is more about adding a baseball-themed Universal CityWalk-type expansion in the center-field parking lot than modernizing the stadium.
There has been a tidal wave of new ballparks built the last 20 years, leaving Dodger Stadium as baseball’s third oldest park -- behind only Wrigley Field and Fenway.
But in almost every instance, the new ballparks were freeing teams from multipurpose stadiums shared with an NFL team, configurations that never truly welcomed baseball.
So baseball moved behind Three Rivers, Fulton County, Veterans, Busch Memorial, Riverfront, Qualcomm-Jack Murphy, Baltimore Memorial, RFK and Mile High stadiums; Candlestick Park and the Astrodome and Kingdome, and moved into comfortable, unique, modern ballparks.
The thing is, Dodger Stadium was built for baseball. And to this day, it remains one of the most beautiful -- and special -- ballparks in the world. Certainly, it has one of the most scenic settings, nestled in the foothills of Chavez Ravine and with expansive views across Los Angeles.
Could it stand more improvements? Absolutely. Is it still a pain to get in and out of? No question, but then it has been for 50 years.
To most of the hoi polloi, Dodger Stadium remains beloved. Which is one of the reasons they continue to show up, 3-million plus, every season.
McCourt, however, will no doubt be taking keen interest in the financial effect of the new Yankee Stadium. Which is not the same thing as having the resources to go out and mimic the move in Los Angeles.
Can the Dodgers remain economically competitive, counting on the masses to fill the stadium and pay for parking and hot dogs and souvenirs? Or is it really time to call in the wrecking ball?
-- Steve Dilbeck