For the longest time, this author has often dreamed about building a new stadium for the Los Angeles Dodgers in Downtown Los Angeles. Since attending ballgames as a child in Los Angeles at Chavez Ravine, the way to Dodger Stadium through Elysian Park has always been magical. However, what Dodger Stadium lacks is ease of access to its confines.
Traffic is one thing. Location is another. Both are related. Once on site, Dodger Stadium provides a wonderful view from behind home plate looking towards Downtown, the Hollywood Hills, the Santa Monica Mountains, and the Pacific Ocean. However, the problem remains that (1) it takes too long to get inside the ballpark leading to early and late attendance issues (not fair-weather fans as some analysts and critics have claimed over the years), and (2) its location exasperates the first issue and provides for little to no pre or post game fan experience opportunities.
As any fan or patron to Dodger Stadium can attest, you often arrive late and leave early to ballgames because of traffic and to avoid traffic. Arguably, the ingress and egress into and out of the stadium is the worst in Major League Baseball. Moreover, even though Dodger stadium is one of the most beautiful and well-kept ballparks in America, it has no rail transit or restaurants, bars, or shops within walking distance. Simply, it lacks basic accommodations, access, and the community aspect that many of America’s best ballparks provide.
For example, attend a game at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and you can ride a train, ferry, or walk to the ballpark from downtown. You can also drive or bus into the stadium. Restaurants, bars, shops, and beautiful views of the three rivers that connect in the immediate area, the Monongahela, Allegheny, and the Ohio, make for a complete venue. San Francisco’s AT&T Park, Minnesota’s Target Field, San Diego’s Petco Park, Baltimore’s Camden Yards, New York’s Yankee Stadium, and Boston’s Fenway Park are all in the same breadth of beauty, thoughtfulness, and completeness.
Ballparks in the above mold are community hubs during season and in the offseason as well. Fans, patrons, and people getting together before and after games for food and entertainment, while contributing to the local economy. It is really a beautiful marriage and a great thing to experience.
Fans to Dodger Stadium have never experienced this in their home ballpark. Dodger Stadium has always been an enclave tucked away on a perch overlooking the city. A terrific thought for a public park, homes, condominiums, and shopping, but not for a ballpark that saw nearly four million visitors in 2016. Visitors that travel on the roadway into Dodger Stadium are doing so in peak congestion times and in bunches at a time. It is the perfect storm for traffic congestion in a city of 4 million and a county of 10 million people.
We obviously understand the difficulties in building a new ballpark. The recent investment and upgrades into Dodger Stadium alone would make it an unreasonable venture. The move of two football teams, a new soccer team, and new stadiums for each also presents issues related to spending, investment, and congestion. This all not to mention the emotional connection to the third oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball.
Aesthetically, how about a brick façade paying homage to Ebbets Fields in Brooklyn? How about a view of the Downtown Los Angeles skyline from every seat in the ballpark, not just from behind the stadium prior to entering?
In terms of infrastructure, how about rail transportation to and from the stadium? How about parking structures outside downtown and near the stadium where buses and rail take people to and from the stadium?
In terms of building the Dodger fan base and community at large, how about restaurants and bars that become establishments like those on Yawkey Way outside Fenway Park or on River Avenue or 161st Street outside Yankee Stadium?
How about the value in selling the land and the parking lots surrounding Dodger Stadium for preservation and development? The dollar figure alone would help subsidize a significant portion if not all of a new ballpark. Come to think of it, “Dodgers Ballpark in Downtown” has a nice ring to it.
We are not suggesting that a move is possible, but more that a move to Downtown would make wonderful sense. Remember the land area where the new Los Angeles football team was supposed to be built near L.A. Live and the Convention Center? Why not place the Los Angeles baseball team there instead?
A move to Downtown Los Angeles also alleviates the Dodgers two biggest problems: traffic and location. It solves those problems with existing public transportation and rail and lines that could be added in the Downtown area and outlying areas (e.g., Metrolink to Union Station). The plan would also bring together a downtown community and fan base before and after games. Folks could arrive earlier and stay late because there would be something to do besides sitting in a parking lot.
Possibly dreams in Blue Heaven, a beautiful one at that, but you heard it here first.