Anyone who has ever had the opportunity to hear Dodgers President and CEO Stan Kasten speak knows that there isn’t a human being alive who exudes more enthusiasm and confidence than he does. But I can honestly say that even I was overwhelmed by Kasten’s excitement at Tuesday morning’s press conference at Dodger Stadium when he and Sr. Vice President of Planning and Development Janet Marie Smith outlined the $100 million renovations currently underway at the 51-year-old iconic ballpark.
Although the list of renovations were detailed in an official press release, listening to Kasten and Smith describe them in person and then listening to the pair field questions from the gathered media, it was as if the two Dodger executives were bragging about a new grandchild. It was, as I said, overwhelming.
Over the past three months, much has already been written about the renovations to the clubhouses and the addition of a much-needed second batting cage for visiting teams, but at Tuesday’s press conference, Kasten and Smith finally let the cat out of the bag about the much rumored (and now factual) brand new state-of-the-art High Definition video scoreboards that will replace the existing scoreboards. And to ease the anxieties of those of us who have come to love our hexagonal scoreboards, you can put your concerns to rest.
“In 1980 for the All-Star Game, (the original hexagon-shaped) scoreboard in left field was changed to a rectangle video board and it seemed time to return to something that was a bit more historic in Dodger Stadium terms,” Smith said. “We’re working with ANC to provide scoreboards that will restore the hexagon shape to both boards. This will be the first-ever 1080 (High Definition) boards in all of outdoor display in major league baseball. Our control room will be the first in either baseball or NFL to have this kind of High Resolution, High Definition capabilities,” she added. Smith indicated that the new video boards will also be 22% larger in size, as well.
Smith said that a brand new sound system cluster will replace the current system in center field, adding that this will be augmented by direct sound speakers located under the overhangs on every level and at concession stands and in the restrooms.
Other significant changes will be the removal of the top two rows of seats in each of the Field, Loge, Reserve and Top Deck levels to allow for more handicap seating and for ease of access into the seating areas, this in addition to more food concession areas. Drink tables will also be installed on each of these levels to allow for fans to gather while still being able to watch the game; and get this… there will be cell phone charging stations at these drink tables. Why the need for cell phone charging stations you ask? Because Dodger Stadium will soon have the best cell phone and Wi-Fi service in all of baseball.
Smith also said that additional restroom facilities will be added on every level that will increase the total number of fixtures in the women’s facilities by 62% and the men’s facilities by 32%.
Of particular interest to me as a season ticket holder in the Left Field Pavilion will be the construction of brand new restroom facilities in each of the two pavilions that will be located under the seating areas, thus eliminating the need to walk all the way to the far reaches of the pavilions to access the restrooms. In doing so, this will allow for the bullpens to be lengthened to better accommodate pitchers and catchers.
And speaking of the bullpens, one of the new additions that Kasten was most excited about is the addition of overhead viewing areas above both bullpens where fans can gather to watch the bullpen activities and the game itself. I asked Kasten if this overhang will allow those in the pavilions to access the main Field Level concourse, to which he said that it would not. He did, however, say that fans seated in the pavilions will be allowed access to the bullpen overhead viewing areas. He also added that the food choices in the pavilions will be significantly increased as well.
For you history buffs, Smith indicated that former Cy Young, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger and MVP trophies will be prominently displayed in the Dugout Club Level and clubhouse areas for both fans and players to see. There will also be two new kids areas added, one behind center field and one behind the Top Deck. These kids areas will feature life-size bobble heads and giant World Series rings, in addition to other play equipment.
Of particular note to Dodger fans, Kasten was asked if the major renovations and improvements being done might cause Major League Baseball to consider Dodger Stadium for an All-Star Game in the future.
“I’m sure we’ll be considered for anything,” Kasten replied. “A – because of our marketing because of the fan base we have, and B – this facility will be second to none in terms of housing for players in the clubhouse areas, in size and in facilities. And a training center… this was a particularly hot button for Mark Walter and he said to me that he wanted the finest training center anywhere in the sport, and that’s what we’re going to deliver by the end of the day.”