2014 Dodger Stadium renovations: The secret of their access

A rendering of the renovations behind left field at Dodger Stadium for 2014.

A rendering of the renovations behind left field at Dodger Stadium for 2014.

By Jon Weisman

Dodger fans like to roam if they want to – and that, as much as anything, explains the motivation behind this offseason’s key renovations at Dodger Stadium.

The Dodgers plan to expand the entry areas behind the right-field and left-field bullpens, quadrupling the size of those concourses while also providing more culinary, retail and ticket services and improving disabled access. Fans ticketed for the Dugout, Field, Loge and Club Levels, as well as the Pavilions, will have access to these multifaceted areas.

“Dodger Stadium is such a perfect stadium structure, and 50 years ago fans were willing to sit in their seats,” Dodgers Senior Vice President of Planning and Development Janet Marie Smith told Dodger Insider.  “Today, there is more socialization and people moving around. We wanted to create spaces for that to happen. Last season, we took out the last few rows of seats on each level, and installed drink rails, to create wider concourses and more space to move around.”

These renovations follow expansions to the Top Deck and Reserved Level entryways implemented a year ago. The latest alterations are on track for completion in time for the exhibition series against the Angels that begins March 27.

Overview bullpenAmong other changes, the large tents that have served as retail stores the past several years behind the bullpens will be removed, with new stores relocated in the roomier outfield concourses.

“By getting rid of the tents,” Smith said, “we’ll have beautiful views of the field as you enter these gates.”

There will also be tiered seating in areas overlooking both bullpens, available on a first-come, first-served basis, proximate to bars that will overlook the bullpen as well.

“It was part of what was conceived when (Dodger President and CEO) Stan Kasten first took over, but we just couldn’t build everything in one offseason,” Smith said. “These bullpen overlooks were always a favorite idea, but they’re harder to construct than it seems, because of the need to regrade the whole area to meet ADA requirements.  … (But) one of our goals is to make Dodger Stadium as accessible as possible, so this is another step toward that.”

An outdoor barbecue restaurant will be placed behind left field, with a new Tommy Lasorda’s Italian restaurant in the concourse behind right field. Big screens will keep those hanging out in the concourses updated on the field action.

Regrading of Lot G behind the outfield will create more ADA-accessible parking. Stadium seating capacity will remain the same. 

The changes at Dodger Stadium will hardly be purely pragmatic. The Dodgers, the only team in baseball with a full-time arborist, are also enhancing the ballpark’s landscaping. All 33 trees in the outfield area have been replanted on site, Smith said, adding that Dodger Stadium, the only MLB park certified by the National Audubon Society, will have three times as many trees in the outfield by April as before.

A view of the downtown skyline from Dodger Stadium's Top Deck, with relocated palm trees in the foreground.

A view of the downtown skyline from Dodger Stadium’s Top Deck, with relocated palm trees in the foreground.

“Not a tree was lost during construction,” Smith said. “We’ve moved some of them to the downtown gate, so that we’d have a more dramatic entrance at the 110, and we’ve moved others to the Top Deck, so the downtown skyline is framed by this ‘very L.A.’ landscape.   Every tree and plant was lovingly moved to a new home on the Dodger Stadium site.

“The idea in all of these new plazas has been to bring the greenery of Elysian Park into Dodger Stadium.   As more teams have moved into an urban setting, it makes Dodger Stadium, carved into the hillside of Chavez Ravine and surrounded by the San Gabriel Mountains and all these palm trees, that much more special. So we are trying to enhance that feature and make a big thing out of that landscaping.  We looked at saving these trees, boxing them up and moving them back to their original location. But we decided that was not nearly as smart as using the same amount of money to move them to a new home and to buy new plant material for the renovated areas.  Not only does this double the number of trees, but gives them a better chance of survival.”

Meanwhile, the display of the famed “Three Sisters” behind the left-field bullpen will remain.

“The Three Sisters have been moved before and successfully returned to their roost, so we are making plans for that once again,” Smith said, noting that with the combination of re-grading and underground utility work, “it just seemed wise to move these trees out of harm’s way.”   They were carefully pruned, with canopies tied and root balls wrapped before transplanting.

“They’ll literally come popping up out of the bullpen overlook in their original location,” Smith said. “We’re going to build the bars around them, so that the landscaping isn’t altered.”

The Dodgers intend to create additional opportunities to honor their team history, dating back to Brooklyn, by placing key items at these new entry gates. Time will limit all they can do, in part because of the challenges of working around such events as the Kings-Ducks NHL game January 25 and the Los Angeles Marathon on March 9.

In the meantime, not even visiting teams are being neglected in this year’s renovations. Building upon the new visiting batting cage and training room established in 2012-13, the Dodgers will connect a newly modernized clubhouse connected with the same area. The previous visitor clubhouse will be allocated for auxiliary stadium use. 

30 Comments

Nice article Jon

Can’t wait to see it.

Nice upgrades. Thanks for breaking this story from the inside.

Kinda takes away from the charm that Dodger stadium is still one of the purest Baseball fields in the world.. I’d like to see better parking than restaurants back there..

New post up top.

I have to say, we’re pretty spoiled by our new owners…and I’m LOVING IT!

Sounds great–but, can we also do some food upgrades–the choices are pretty awful…not much for healthy eating.

que llegue el red line al estadio :)

1st get CONTROL of the Parking away from McCourt and RID him from our still CRYING Eyes. Then please consider a Mile Square Parking Structure 7 levels high from behind the Stadium with better access and Safety for ALL…. Disney did it with no major issues. Build an area like LA Live with better Healthy Food upgrades like has been said before.. Maybe call it something after Vince Scully !!!

I agree… more parking–fewer restaurants.
Pretty bad when it takes almost TWO hours o find a parking space!

It’s never even taken me 2 hours to find parking at the stadium. That said, it can indeed take one or two hours to from first hitting Dodger Stadium traffic to arriving at your seat. However, adding more parking will just encourage more folks to drive, which further adds to the traffic in and around the stadium. The key is to improve the transit options available to fans. The Dodger Stadium “Express” shuttle is a good start, and the 4+ carpool/transit lanes near the stadium also help, but much more work is needed to get folks to take the shuttle. I’d like to see a shuttle-only lane inside the stadium grounds; and maybe reopen the Scott Ave gate for shuttles only.

All that said, it will be nice to have some additional food options in the stadium. I love a good Dodger Dog, but some variety is always welcome!

You may have tried this but parking at Union Station and taking the Metro bus over to the ball part is great way to travel and after a game you can stop at Olvera for some good food and drinks.

bring back the “Think Blue” sign!!

So fans ticketed for Reserved and Top Deck won’t be able to access these new areas???

You get what you pay for…

The Reserved and Top Deck levels already had similar improvements implemented.

Yeah let’s fix the appearance of the stadium so we can get an All-star game…and not do anything about it taking 1 to 2 hours to get from the Stadium way exit on the 5 to your seats…

Will this area be open to all during early/entry batting practice time? How about season ticket holders?

I say they add a King Taco restaurant to one of those new concourses. Yumm!

Th parking will always be a situation that needs to be improved, I am sure the Dodgers Brain Trust realize the ridiculous time it takes to exit the stadium. For me if I have to wait an hour or so to exit after a World Series win,its doesn’t really matter.

It reminds me of The Baltimore Orioles Stadium, which is a very nice stadium.

Any vegetarian.Plant Based options or just more hot dogs?

Jon,
This all looks great. Can you please relay to Stan that they need to stop playing the annoyingly and deafeningly LOUD MUSIC. THE OVERWHELMING MAJORITY OF FANS HATE THE TYPE OF MUSIC AND THE RIDICULOUS VOLUME.
PLEASE!! Stop!!

I Agree, and can PLEASE stop the WWF style intro music every time an L.A. player come to bat! that’s so Minor league and annoying as all hell .The organ
is little by little fading away at Dodger stadium

Why do we need healthy eating? Not saying to just ingest a gallon of lard, but come on, it’s a baseball game.

Is this Bullpen View open to Left Field Pavillion or Just the Field Level Seats???? Regardless, it’s a great addition especially for the drinkers(Oops Security) and maybe the smokers.

sweet ball park already, now its going to drip honey….go blue…we got this year…

I —>Just Don’t Get The Whiners!!!??? I mean the pathological need to whine whine whine complain complain complain! Please please please do us a favor and move to Hawaii where every day is beautiful, and there is No MLB Baseball team to whine about! GO AWAY! These owners are a wonderful blessing to our City and franchise and that is the bottom line. These renovations to our historic stadium are AWESOME. THANK YOU MR WALTER, KASTEN, and JANET MARIE!

I really like the idea of a shuttle inside the stadium parking. If I didn’t a handicapped parking pass I would be up a creek.

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