Imagine a new Dodger Stadium - without tearing down the old one. The owners of the Dodgers announced a plan Thursday to give the place a big-time face lift. KPCC's Brian Watt was an awful Little League fielder, but he got to stand on the center field grass for the announcement.
Brian Watt: It's the area beyond center field that Frank McCourt wants to change. There's nothing spectacular there now save for asphalt, but the Dodgers owner wants to make it...
Frank McCourt: ... a brand new front door for this beautiful home, arriving at an open air gathering place accessible to all of our fans, anchoring a beautiful new street called Dodger Way, lined with shops and restaurants.
Watt: Don't forget the new interactive Dodgers museum. Way up at the top of the other side of the stadium, behind home plate, McCourt wants to create an outdoor plaza with views down onto the diamond, and out to L.A.'s downtown skyline and the Santa Monica Bay, at least, when the smog is gone. The plan to connect those two spaces involves unpaving about 15 acres, or 2,000 parking spaces. Lead architect Scott Johnson:
Scott Johnson: We're essentially replacing the ones that we've lost with two parking structures which are embedded into the ground, and then we're taking a wide ring around the stadium, which used to be parking, and we're creating a series of gardens and amenities and paseos so that people can circulate fluidly through the whole stadium.
Watt: The project calls for the planting of 2,000 new trees, but that's not all that's green about it. There are aggressive recycling and water management plans. Johnson says they're even considering solar power.
Johnson: The hugest, if that's a word, thing is actually keeping the stadium intact. To replace it with new construction would use infinitely more resources than we ever will.
Watt: As for the cost, Dodgers owner Frank McCourt gave a ballpark figure of half a billion dollars. He insisted neither taxpayers nor ticket-holders would foot the bill. Private money, he said, would pay for the upgrade, which he hopes everybody will enjoy year-round.
McCourt: This is not being built just for the diehard fan that comes to 81 games, this is being built also for citizens of this great community that may not have been here to date.
Watt: This is the Dodgers' 50th Season in Los Angeles. Dodger Stadium turns 50 in 2012. That's when Frank McCourt hopes its facelift will be finished.