Ignore all the crazy talk about the Los Angeles Dodgers looking at a new downtown ballpark: Not only is the team committed to Dodger Stadium, but the outline of a long-term development plan of Chavez Ravine is in place.
When Guggenheim Baseball Management bought the Dodgers, Dodger Stadium, the 15 acres underneath the ballpark, 260 acres of parking lots and other related businesses from Frank McCourt for $2.15 billion, the firm entered into a new agreement with McCourt, selling back the 260 acres for $150 million to a joint development venture between Guggenheim and McCourt. The land underneath Dodger Stadium remains with the Dodgers, but the rest of Chavez Ravine land is fair game for improvement.
According to Globe Street, that development will take place in phases. The first phase will be adding retail and restaurants geared toward Dodgers fans on a game day. This isn’t a new concept: the Dodgers under McCourt had commissioned plans for Dodger Stadium improvements calling for a revamped outfield area with new seating areas, a raised concourse and a new center-field entrance with team store and restaurants. It’s been a long time since the ballpark, which opened in 1962, saw any major improvements. That, of course, is part of its charm: despite the age, Dodger Stadium is still a very functional ballpark providing a good fan experience. This won’t be the only improvement to Dodger Stadium: A group that includes former Dodger pitcher Orel Hershiser, LG and Lynx Architecture has pitched the team on other ballpark enhancements.
Those improvements at the ballpark could take 10 years to complete and probably be done in phases. New parking structures could be part of that development.
The second major phase of development at Chavez Ravine probably won’t occur until a decade down the road, according to Tony Natsis of Allen Matkins, the real-estate law firm that worked on the deal. At that time you’ll see development not related to the Dodgers — things like residential/rentals and office space. “Eventually, in the long term, they will have other projects developed on those 260 acres that aren’t just there to enhance the fan experience,” Natsis says. “This is the last best developable piece of property in L.A. County.”
And that was the key to the Dodgers sale: the unique mix of a very functional and potentially very profitable ballpark — think of it as a great TV studio when the Dodgers sign a huge media-rights deal — with a boatload of land in the middle of Los Angeles available for redevelopment. We know the allure of downtown Los Angeles and we wouldn’t be surprised if the Angels took discussions for a move there to a higher level, but we can’t see AEG offering the Dodgers enough to walk away from a perfectly fine ballpark that already has things like good freeway access and plenty of land. The same things that attracted Walter O’Malley to Chavez Ravine as he scouted the area via helicopter are still true today.
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