Saturday, April 26, 2008

Changes Coming to Dodger Stadium

As mentioned the other day, big changes are afoot at Dodger Stadium.

The Dodgers unveiled their proposed changes for the 46-year-old stadium Thursday. (Press conference photos here and here.) Dodgers owner Frank McCourt plans to build parking structures, stores, restaurants, and a Dodgers museum in the current parking lot behind center field.

The changes will cost more than McCourt initially paid for the team.

A Times architecture critic, Christopher Hawthorne, notes that if the additions come to pass, while they are positive, it will change the way Dodgers fans have traditionally used the stadium, parking their car as close to their seating section as possible:

"The various updates, however, also offer a direct challenge to the relationship the ballpark has forged with fans since 1962. Though the stadium sits near the geographical center of the city, its spirit is wholly suburban. Even more than at other ballparks from the same era, Praeger's design makes it possible for fans to drive right up to the stadium edge, leave their cars and walk directly to their seats.

"There is no main entrance -- that would require fans to use their legs more than strictly necessary. You simply slip through one entry portal or another and -- wham -- there is the green field in front of you, with the hillsides beyond. At the end of the game -- or in the seventh inning, depending on the score and the state of traffic on the freeways down below -- you leave your section and hop back into your car.

"It isn't just living in Los Angeles, the ultimate auto-friendly big city, that has taught us to think of a visit to the stadium that way -- a mind-set Scott Johnson of Johnson Fain calls 'car-seat-car.' It's also the architecture of the stadium itself. There has never been a sense that O'Malley or subsequent Dodgers owners wanted to funnel you through a maze of attractions as you made your way to your seat, each offering something for sale. They were selling baseball (and maybe a Dodger dog and a beer), and aided by Praeger's layout of the stadium, that's what they gave you -- in remarkably pure form.

"There is a kind of freedom -- and even a kind of anonymity -- in the way fans use Dodger Stadium that mirrors the way we've historically moved through the city at large. Though the change is probably unavoidable, as pro sports and Los Angeles both continue to evolve, the Dodger Stadium of 2012 will probably offer a much different experience."

Well, like so many things in life, it seems change is inevitable. Let's hope it turns out to be worthwhile.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older