It’s hard to believe, but Dodger Stadium—that minimalist monument of mid-century modernity two miles from LA City Hall—is now in its 52nd season. It is now the oldest ballpark west of the Mississippi, second-oldest in the National League, and third-oldest in the majors. For most of its history, it has quietly carried on unchanged, drawing record full-season crowds. Ownership transitions brought some alterations in 2005, and now, with yet another group of owners, it is in the eighth inning of a $100-million-plus makeover.
Sam Lubell / AN
The design team includes Janet Marie Smith, Dodgers VP in charge of the renovation; Brenda Levin, architect of the retail stores, concessions, and restrooms; Mia Lehrer, landscape architect for the stadium’s revamped concourses and plazas; Tom Quirk of DAIQ, architect for clubhouse and baseline seats; and Ronnie Younts of Ashton Design, designer of themed artifacts.
Most of the changes are subtle. There was no sprucing up of exterior surfaces, largely because many of the stadium’s facades are buried in the hillside. Seating rows near field level have been removed or reconfigured to improve sight lines for high rollers. The worst seats in the various nosebleed sections (the last two rows) were also removed, improving ADA compliance and widening the concourses under the stands. Restrooms were shifted outward, further expanding concourse width and providing 50 percent capacity above code in ladies’ rooms and 100 percent in men’s.
The style of the new constructions is unobtrusive, much like the old stadium itself. The original park’s two attempts at structural concrete display—folded-plate sunscreens above the outfield pavilions, and hyperbolic paraboloid ones at the foul-territory top decks—remain intact. The scoreboards have been dramatically upgraded with impressive new high definition displays, but their programming seems a work in progress. Lehrer’s new entry plaza has simplified the fan experience, making it easier to funnel into the stadium and potentially linger outside. New playgrounds, featuring oversized baseballs and life-sized bobble heads, make those spaces more likely for young fans. The park, however, has not added any public art.
New merchandise shops were added and old ones expanded. All employ the stadium’s original palette of materials, including decorative concrete block and corrugated metal panels. The same is true for the food and drink concessions, some of which are arranged to frame two upper-level kids’ play areas. At the park’s opening, food lines were long, although the offerings were not up to the level found in, say, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, or Philadelphia.