Dodger stadium might not be the most modern stadium in baseball, but it’s beautiful simplicity allows for the fan to enjoy baseball in its purist form. Sure, they’ve added the ribbon board and the players now have at-bat songs that include hip-hop and rock, and McCourt replaced all the seats, but the ballpark has essentially remained the same throughout the years. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Just the idea of tearing down our baseball Mecca makes me nauseous. Frighteningly, some of the prospective bidders for the team may desire to do just that. Whichever bidder wins, I feel it is his duty to find a balance between creating the modern amenities and the best experience for the fans and preserving Walter O’ Malley’s vision and the Dodger tradition.
With any large scale project like the one O’ Malley was building, plans evolve and change. O’Malley’s original idea for a domed stadium in Brooklyn never materialized. With the population shifting from the inner city to the suburbs and the West, O’Malley’s dream stadium would instead be constructed across the country from the Dodgers original New York birthplace.
In June of 1958 the citizens of Los Angeles voted “yes” on the referendum for the transfer of Chavez Ravine to the Dodgers. O’Malley traded the land in Chavez Ravine for a 9-acre lot and deed to Wrigley Field, where the Chicago Cubs’ minor league franchise the Los Angeles Angels played which he had bought previously. Not everyone welcomed the new stadium. Chavez Ravine was home to a community of mostly poor Mexican Americans. On May 8, 1959 sheriff’s deputies evicted the last remaining families using force. Frank Wilkinson and the Battle of Chavez Ravine is a poignant piece which chronicles the story of these Angelenos who once called Chavez Ravine home. This is a must read.
While the bulldozers were readying to demolish the community within Chavez Ravine and move the immense amount of dirt in order to create Dodger Stadium’s shape, the plans and design were also taking shape.
Some design elements didn’t pan out, but it is interesting to see how Dodger Stadium could have had a much different look than it does today.
Walter O’Malley’s official website chronicles the entire history of the Dodgers and Dodger Stadium. It outlines some of the early plans:
ideas from architects were special bus lanes for public transportation, a nursery for preschool-age children; a 40-acre public recreation center and a sky terrace restaurant on the highest tier. The Dodgers also contemplated bypassing the conventional wire screen behind home plate along the first and third base lines with Plexiglas to improve visibility. O’Malley’s original map submitted in 1959 to the City Council included what the Los Angeles Mirror described as “a myriad of commercial enterprises; auto service center, novelty and souvenir shops, restaurants, car wash centers.” The blueprints also proposed a Dodger Hall of Fame, botanic garden, a mall, drive-in ticket offices and quarters for both staff and visiting teams.
There was even to be a “secret” fountain in center field where spotlights would cascade off it when a homerun was hit instead of fireworks.
Some of the design ideas did make it to the final product including the unobstructed view from any seat, terraced parking lots, a Stadium Club section, beautiful landscaping, and picturesque views of downtown Los Angeles and the San Bernardino mountains.
O’Malley’s vision was now embedded within the blueprints, and the citizens of Los Angeles had voted in favor of the project. The next step would be to begin the process of construction on the classic venue.