The L.A. Dodgers open the 2013 season against the Giants this coming Monday at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers' ownership spent the off-season giving the stadium a $100-million makeover. KPCC's Brian Watt says it's all part of a strategy to cultivate fan loyalty.
The Los Angeles Dodgers open their 2013 regular season against the San Francisco Giants on Monday, April 1, at Dodger Stadium. Fans with tickets to Friday's exhibition game against the Angels will get the first public look at major renovations at the stadium.
"We’ve tried to think of every one of our fans," said Dodgers President Stan Kasten. "We’re trying to reach out and keep Dodger Stadium looking and feeling like it’s always felt, but have it work in a more of 21st century way."
Kasten said fans will be looking for more highlights on the field. Here are some highlights of the stadium:
- New high-definition video boards in left field and right field that keep the unique hexagon shape of both scoreboards.
- A new sound system directed to minimize echoes in the stadium and sound migration outside the stadium.
- Better cell phone reception and a new Wi-Fi network. Kasten says the improved cell phone network will be ready by April 15, and the stadium-wide Wi-Fi network will be ready by June: "Then we will have the most extensive cell and Wi-Fi system in baseball," said Kasten.
- Expanded and renovated restrooms for women and men.
- Wider concourses and additional locations for wheelchair acess on all levels.
- More concession stands and more soft-serve ice cream.
- New field level entry plazas to create standing-room areas with a view of the game.
- A new home team clubhouse, expanded and enhanced training/conditioning areas and new batting cages for the Dodgers and the visiting team.
"Dodger Stadium is so unique you really have to get your head into this building," said Janet Marie Smith, Dodgers vice president of planning. She's also an architect who has worked for the Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles, and Atlanta Braves.
"Knowing baseball parks doesn’t mean you understand Dodger Stadium," Smith said.
Smith said the stadium is built into a hillside, so fans enter at different levels, and there’s no real main entrance. Rather than try to change that, Smith said the renovation celebrates it by giving each gate a unique feature. Fans will remember where they came in and where they should exit not just by the name over the gate but also by "the oversized bobblehead, the retired number, the baseballs, or the 9-foot high 'LA' " that sets it apart.
Kasten said all the renovations are geared to make just hanging out in the stadium more fun for fans, but he asked for their patience during the first homestand.
"We are going to learn the best way possible during our homestand," he said. "We are going to look at lines through our concession areas."
Kasten said the Dodgers have sold about 31,000 season ticket packages. On the field, the Dodgers need to win. If it were only so easy to “renovate” a team into the World Series. But, Kasten and the team ownership are spending money to make that possible too. Once the players hit the field, we’ll find out how that pays off.