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.
RELATED STORIES: New Dodgers owners: We need to upgrade fan experience; New owners take control of Los Angeles Dodgers; Court approves Dodgers sale; Time Warner mulling stake in Dodgers?; Dodgers sale expected to be approved Friday; Dodgers to mark 50th anniversary of Dodger Stadium in tonight’s season opener; Reax to Dodgers sale to Johnson group; Kasten, Johnson group to buy Dodgers, Dodger Stadium for $2 billion; The unimaginable emerges: The sale of naming rights to Dodger Stadium; Seven groups still in running for Dodgers; Dodgers sale complicated by McCourt decision to keep land surrounding Dodger Stadium; Torre quits MLB post to pursue Dodgers; O’Malley: I want to bring the Dodgers home; Dodgers lower season-ducat costs for 2012; Jamie to Frank: The Dodgers are yours; MLB to bankruptcy judge: Force McCourt to sell Dodgers or we’ll do it later; Weirdness bubbles to surface in Dodgers bankruptcy; Dodgers attendance woes could cost team $27 million; Judge: Dodgers must accept MLB loan; MLB: McCourt not acting in best interests of Dodgers; Dodgers: Selig was unfair toward us; McCourt files for bankruptcy on Dodgers, Dodger Stadium; Selig: No to proposed Fox/Dodgers TV deal; McCourts reach tentative divorce agreement, allowing Frank to keep Dodgers — maybe; Could McCourt lose Dodgers and keep Dodger Stadium?; Gloves are off for McCourt: Selig has no right seizing Dodgers; Schieffer new Dodgers monitor; McCourt response to Selig: strong words, no lawsuit; Selig seizes Dodgers from McCourt; Stow still in critical condition; No arrests at Dodger Stadium with new security system in place; Dodgers scrap half-price drink promotion; All quiet at AT&T Park last night; Security tight for tonight at AT&T Park Dodgers-Giants tilt; Dodgers up security; will it be enough?; Giants fan severely beaten in Dodger Stadium parking lot; suspects sought; Selig shoots down Fox loan to Dodgers; Messy McCourt divorce takes another turn
This article first appeared in the weekly Ballpark Digest newsletter. Are you a subscriber? You can sign up for a free subscription at the Newsletter Signup Page.
Share your news with the baseball community. Send it to us at email@example.com.