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California Supreme Court OKs Dodger Deal, January 14, 1959

January 14, 2009 |  6:00 am
1959_0114_coverA federal grand jury in Los Angeles will investigate organized crime.


1959_0114_runover_2 The state Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of the Dodgers and City Hall, moving plans for a baseball stadium in Chavez Ravine one huge step closer to reality. The Times' coverage was breathless, no surprise since the paper was an open champion of the deal with the Dodgers.

"Progress must not be stopped in Los Angeles," Mayor Norris Poulson said in Gene Blake's lead story.

The Supreme Court reversed a Superior Court ruling that said the contract between the city and the Dodgers was invalid. Phill Silver, an attorney for one of the taxpayers whose lawsuits were the reason for the Superior Court decision, planned to seek a hearing before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Other than a few paragraphs dealing with Silver, there was little indication how controversial the deal was. City Council members who had been against the stadium deal had no part in the first-day story. The Times' Blake had another story on Jan. 15 that included a no comment from John Holland, a strong opponent of the stadium deal and this from Karl Rundberg, who initially favored the stadium plan and then turned against it: "Is it settled? Frankly, I haven't changed my mind."


"It is an engineers' rule if you go over 52,000 you sacrifice both view and comfort."
--Walter O'Malley
And I found no reactions from anyone who had lived in the Chavez Ravine area.

Dodger owner Walter O'Malley said the stadium would be ready in time for the 1960 season. "We'll open with less seating capacity--32,000--but as the season goes on we'll add more seats until we reach the 52,000 figure," he told The Times' Mal Florence. The following day, City Atty. Roger Arnebergh described that timetable as "extremely optimistic."

The Times took a day and then editorialized on the whole matter. There was no shortage of sports phrases--the court's decision was a unanimous "call" and the Dodgers "and the majorities of voters and City Council members who favor the contract were nearly thrown out at third after the election when a Superior Court judge ruled that the agreement was invalid."

The editorial noted the possibility of an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court but hoped that after the unanimous decision "it would be regrettable to continue arguing with the umpires."

--Keith Thursby