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Dodger Stadium is a stadium in Los Angelesmarker, Californiamarker, United Statesmarker. Located adjacent to Downtown Los Angelesmarker, Dodger Stadium has been the home ballpark of Major League Baseball's Los Angeles Dodgers team since 1962. Dodger Stadium was constructed from 1959 to 1962 at a cost of $23 million paid for through private financing. Dodger Stadium is currently the third oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball (behind Fenway Parkmarker in Bostonmarker and Wrigley Fieldmarker in Chicagomarker,) and is the largest ballpark by seating capacity.

The stadium hosted the 1980 MLB All-Star Game, as well as games of the 1963, 1965, 1966, 1974, 1977, 1978, 1981, and 1988 World Series. It also hosted the semifinals and finals of the 2009 World Baseball Classic as well as exhibition baseball during the 1984 Summer Olympics.

History

Construction

In the mid-1950s, Brooklyn Dodger team president Walter O'Malley had tried to build his own stadium in the New York Citymarker borough of Brooklynmarker, but was unable to reach an agreement with city officials in regards to land acquisition and eventually reached a deal with the city of Los Angeles in California. The land for Dodger Stadium was purchased from local owners and inhabitants in the early 1950s by the city of Los Angeles using eminent domain with funds from the Federal Housing Act of 1949. The city had planned to develop the Elysian Park Heights public housing project, which included two dozen 13-story buildings and more than 160 two-story townhouses, in addition to newly rebuilt playgrounds and schools.

Before construction could begin, the local political climate changed greatly when Norris Poulson was elected mayor of Los Angeles in 1953. Proposed public housing projects like Elysian Park Heights lost most of their support as they became associated with socialist ideals. Following protracted negotiations, the city was able to purchase the Chávez Ravine property back from the Federal Housing Authority at a drastically reduced price, with the stipulation that the land be used for a public purpose. It was not until June 3, 1958, when Los Angeles voters approved a "Taxpayers Committee for Yes on Baseball" referendum, that the Dodgers were able to acquire of Chavez Ravine from the city. While Dodger Stadium was under construction, the Dodgers played in the league's largest capacity venue from 1958 through 1961 at their temporary home, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseummarker, which could seat in excess of 80,000 people.

Original dimensions
Los Angeles-based author Mike Davis, in his seminal work on the city, City of Quartz, describes the process of gradually convincing Chávez Ravine homeowners to sell. With nearly all of the original Spanish-speaking homeowners initially unwilling to sell, developers resorted to offering immediate cash payments, distributed through their Spanish-speaking agents. Once the first sales had been completed, remaining homeowners were offered increasingly lesser amounts of money, to create a community panic of not receiving fair compensation, or of being left as one of the few holdouts. Many residents continued to hold out despite the pressure being placed upon them by developers, resulting in the Battle of Chavez Ravine, an unsuccessful ten-year struggle by residents of Chavez Ravine, to maintain control of their property. The controversy surrounding the construction of the Dodger stadium provided the inspiration for singer Ry Cooder's 2005 concept album, Chávez Ravine.

The top of a local hill was removed and the soil was used to fill in the actual Chávez Ravine, to provide a level surface for a parking lot and the stadium.

Dodger Stadium was also the home of the Los Angeles Angels (now Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) between 1962 and 1965. To avoid constantly referring to their landlords, the Angels called the park Chávez Ravine Stadium (or just "Chávez Ravine"), after the former geographic feature in which the stadium had been constructed.

The stadium was originally designed to be expandable to 85,000 seats, simply by expanding the upper deck over the outfield pavillion. However, the Dodgers have not pursued such a project. Dodger Stadium was the first Major League Baseball stadium since the initial construction of the original Yankee Stadiummarker to be built using entirely private financing, and the last until AT&T Parkmarker was built.

As of 2009, Dodger Stadium is one of twelve major league parks without a corporate-sponsored name; the others are Turner Fieldmarker, Yankee Stadiummarker, Fenway Parkmarker, Wrigley Fieldmarker, Rangers Ballpark in Arlingtonmarker, Oriole Park at Camden Yardsmarker, Kauffman Stadiummarker, Angel Stadium of Anaheimmarker, Nationals Parkmarker, and Oakland-Alameda County Coliseummarker.

Renovations under Frank McCourt

Dodger Stadium seat removal, 2005 offseason.
The new All-You-Can-Eat section in the Right Field Pavilion
At the conclusion of the 2005 season, the Los Angeles Dodgers made major renovations during the subsequent off-season.

The largest of these improvements was the replacement of nearly all the seats in the stadium. The seats that were removed had been in use since the mid-1970s and helped give the stadium its unique "space age" feel with a color palette of bright yellow, orange, blue, and red. The new seats are in the original (more muted) 1962 color scheme consisting of yellow, light orange, turquoise, and sky blue. 2,000 pairs of seats were made available for fans to purchase for $250 with the proceeds going to charity.

The baseline seating sections have been converted into retro-style "box" seating, adding leg room and a table for fans. Other maintenance and repairs were made to the concrete structure of the stadium. These improvements mark the second phase of a multi-year improvement plan for Dodger Stadium.

In 2008, the Dodgers announced a $500 million dollar project to build a Dodger museum, shops, and restaurants around Dodger Stadium.
  • Dodger Way - A tree-lined entrance will lead to a landscaped grand plaza where fans can gather beyond center field. The plaza will connect to a promenade that features restaurants, shops and the Dodger Experience museum showcasing the history of the Dodgers in an interactive setting.
  • Green Necklace - The vibrant street setting of Dodger Way links to a beautiful perimeter around Dodger Stadium, enabling fans to walk around the park, outdoors yet inside the stadium gates. This Green Necklace will transform acres of parking lots into a landscaped outdoor walkway connecting the plaza and promenade to the rest of the ballpark.
  • Top of the Park - The Green Necklace connects to a large scale outdoor plaza featuring breathtaking 360 degree views spanning the downtown skyline and Santa Monica Bay, the Santa Monica and San Gabriel Mountains, and the Dodger Stadium diamond..


In the 2008-2009 offseason, the upper levels of the stadium were supposed to be renovated to match the repairs and improvements made to the field level. The improvements were to include the removal of the trough urinals in the men's restrooms, new concession stands and earthquake retrofitting to the concrete structure. It was also to include the replacement of the outfield scoreboards and monitors to new HD monitors. Due to the 2009 World Baseball Classic hosted at Dodger Stadium, these renovations were put on hold, but are likely to proceed after the 2009 season.

In 2008 the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to give the Dodger Stadium area bounded by Academy Rd, Lookout Dr. and Stadium Way its own zip code, 90090 (as of July 2009). This also gives the area a new name, Dodgertown. The signs from the old Dodgertown spring training facility will likely be integrated to the $500 million dollar project.

Features

Design

Dodger Stadium before a game
Dodger Stadium was one of the last baseball-only facilities built before the dawn of the multi-purpose stadium. It was built near a large cross-section of freeways converging near downtown Los Angeles with an expansive parking lot surrounding the stadium. With the construction of many new MLB ballparks in recent years, it is now the third-oldest park still in use, and the oldest on the West Coast. One of the park's distinctive features is the wavy roof atop each outfield pavilion.

A unique terraced-earthworks parking lot was built behind the main stands, allowing ticketholders to park at roughly the level that their seats are, minimizing their climbing and descending of ramps once they get inside the stadium. It was also designed to be earthquake-resistant, an important consideration in California, and has stood the test of several serious earthquakes.

Strobe lights were added in 1999; they flash when the Dodgers take the field, after a Dodger home run and after a Dodger win.

In addition to those of Drysdale, Koufax, and Sutton, the retired numbers of Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, Tommy Lasorda, Walter Alston, Roy Campanella and Jim Gilliam are mounted below the pavilion roofs behind the outfield fence.

The Dodgers devote significant resources to the park's maintenance. For example, it is repainted every year, and a full-time crew of gardeners maintain the site. No plans are in the works to replace it. Renovations were made beginning in 2004 that initially added additional field level seats, particularly behind the plate where previously the only person seen there was scout Mike Brito in his trademark Panama hat tracking pitch speed. After some criticism of the sightlines with these new seats, they were replaced with box seats.

Location

Built in the Los Angeles community of Chávez Ravine, the stadium overlooks downtown Los Angelesmarker and provides breathtaking views of the city to the south, the green tree-lined hills of Elysian Parkmarker to the north and east, and the San Gabriel Mountainsmarker beyond the outfield pavilions. The ballpark has had a good run of luck with rain. Due to dry summers in Southern California, rainouts are exceedingly rare. Prior to 1976, the Dodgers were rained out only once, against the St.Louis Cardinals, on April 21, 1967. That rainout ended a streak of 737 consecutive games without a postponement. The second home rainout, on April 12, 1976, ended a streak of 724 straight games. No rainouts occurred between April 21, 1988 and April 11, 1999 - a major league record of 856 straight home games without a rainout. April 21, 1988, was the last of three consecutive rainouts from April 19. That is the only time consecutive games have been rained out at Dodger Stadium.

Seating

Dodger Stadium is the only current MLB park (excluding the most recently-built parks) that has never changed its capacity. It has always held 56,000 fans, due to a conditional-use permit limiting its capacity. Every time the Dodgers add seats, they always remove an equal number of seats in the upper deck or in the pavilion to keep the capacity the same. Through the sale of standing room only tickets, though, the Dodgers' 2009 home opener managed to draw 57,099 fans, the largest crowd in stadium history. Although beer was not available in the left field pavilion until recently, it is now available in both pavilions. A new addition to Dodger Stadium in 2009 is the Bleacher Beach. Bleacher Beach is in the upper deck in left field and the fans sitting there have access to free food.

With the retirement of Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium in 2009, the park claimed the title of being the largest capacity stadium in the Majors.

Field dimensions and playing surface

Dodger Stadium at night
For various reasons, Dodger Stadium long enjoyed a reputation as a pitchers' park. At first, the relatively deep outfield dimensions were a factor, with the power alleys being about 385 feet. Home plate was moved 10 feet toward center field in 1969, but that move also expanded foul ground by 10 feet, a tradeoff which helped to offset the increased likelihood of home runs caused by the decreased field dimensions. Also, during evening games, as the sun sets, the surrounding air cools quickly due to the ocean climate, becoming more dense, and deep fly balls that might be home runs during the day might instead "die" in the air for routine outs. The park has been home to 10 no-hitters, while players have hit for the cycle just twice in Dodger Stadium.

Recently, however, Dodger Stadium has actually been neutral with respect to home runs. The stadium does depress doubles and triples quite a bit, due to its uniform outfield walls and relatively small "corners" near the foul poles. However, the extremely short outfield walls near the foul poles also make some balls that would bounce off the wall in other parks go for home runs. With some expansion of the box seat area and the removal of significant foul territory, the ballpark has become neutral for both pitchers and hitters alike. Baseball-Reference's Park Factor measurement of 102 for the 2006 and 2007 seasons is evidence of this. In addition, foul territory, once very spacious, has been significantly reduced over the years.

Although the Dodgers have maintained that the distance to center field has been 395ft since 1980, it is still actually to center, as has been the case since 1969. The two 395 feet signs erected in 1980 are to the left and right of dead center.

With the opening of Citi Fieldmarker and the demolition of Shea Stadium in 2009, Dodger Stadium became the only stadium with symmetrical outfield dimensions remaining in the National League and only one of four total in Major League Baseball. The other three symmetrical fields are Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium, Toronto's Rogers Centremarker, and Oakland-Alameda County Coliseummarker.

Pitchers such as Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Don Sutton, Fernando Valenzuela, and Orel Hershiser became superstars after arriving in Los Angeles. The pitcher's edge is also evident in the fact that 10 no-hitters have been thrown in the stadium, including two perfect games (by the Dodgers' Sandy Koufax in 1965, and by Dennis Martínez of the former Montreal Expos in 1991). Bo Belinsky threw the first ever no-hitter in Dodger Stadium on May 5, 1962 while pitching for the Los Angeles Angels (that club referred to the park as "Chavez Ravine".)

The park's significant advantage was eroded somewhat in 1969, in general because MLB rules were changed to lower the maximum height of the pitcher's mound, and more specifically because the Dodgers moved the diamond about 10 feet (3 m) towards center field. This also gave the fielders more room to catch foul balls, so there was some tradeoff. Following the 2004 season, the stadium underwent a renovation which significantly reduced the amount of foul territory. Seats were added which were closer to home plate than the pitcher's mound, the dugouts were moved closer to the field, and previously open space down the foul lines was filled with new seats. To pay for an outstanding loan with the Dodgers former owner News Corporation, current owner Frank McCourt used Dodger Stadium as collateral to obtain a $250 million loan.

Historic events

No hitters in Dodger Stadium (*-Perfect game)
Date Pitcher Team Opponent Box score
May 5, 1962 Bo Belinsky Angels Orioles [15120]
June 30, 1962 Sandy Koufax Dodgers Mets [15121]
May 11, 1963 Sandy Koufax Dodgers Giants [15122]
Sept. 9, 1965* Sandy Koufax Dodgers Cubs [15123]
July 20, 1970 Bill Singer Dodgers Phillies [15124]
July 29, 1990 Fernando Valenzuela Dodgers Cardinals [15125]
July 28, 1991* Dennis Martinez Expos Dodgers [15126]
Aug. 17, 1992 Kevin Gross Dodgers Giants [15127]
April 8, 1994 Kent Mercker Braves Dodgers [15128]
July 14, 1995 Ramon Martinez Dodgers Marlins [15129]


References

  1. Dodgers' McCourt unveils stadium makeover plan - Los Angeles Times
  2. Dodgertown Designation Sought - Los Angeles Times
  3. Dodger Stadium
  4. Dodger Stadium
  5. ESPN - MLB Park Factors - Major League Baseball
  6. The Official Site of Major League Baseball: News: Dodgers to stay in place for 25 years


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