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The push for a new Dodger Stadium makes no sense whatsoever

Jul 14, 2011, 8:30 AM EDT

Dodger Stadium

So I read Matthew’s post on Major League Baseball exploring the possibility of a new downtown stadium for the Los Angeles Dodgers. And as I read it I had one of those strange quasi-out-of-body experiences in which you look around and then slap yourself and try to make sure you’re not dreaming.

First thought: this has to be a bluff. A threat to Frank McCourt that, if necessary, people will work around him. Second thought: a bluff is only as good as the target’s belief that the bluffer is willing to go through with it, so even if it’s a bluff, it bears analysis and consideration. As for that consideration: I’m struggling with just how crazy it would be for the City of Los Angeles to even pretend to go along such a scheme.

I don’t know anything about Los Angeles politics, so if I’m way off base, someone please tell me, but (a) on what planet does a city lift one finger or spend one cent to help a baseball team get a new ballpark when that team already has one that people tend to describe as a jewel; and (b) on what planet does Bud Selig’s Major League Baseball support and actively pursue 100% private investment for a ballpark?

I know about the football stadium thing people have talked about for downtown, but set your McCourt hate aside for a minute and ask yourself, what possible support could there be for a downtown stadium project for the Dodgers? And don’t tell me that it’s all AEG money, because no stadium project — not even the vaunted AT&T Park — is 100% privately financed. There would be tax abatements lobbied for and obtained. There would be infrastructure improvements required. Millions of public dollars would be spent on any stadium project, no matter what the press releases say about it being privately financed.

There is a gleaming, wonderful baseball stadium in Chavez Ravine that no one could sanely claim requires replacement for any reason other that the McCourt mess and the unsavory possibility of him being the landlord for any new Dodgers owner. But the McCourt mess is neither the fault nor the responsibility of the people of Los Angeles. It is the fault and responsibility of Bud Selig and Major League Baseball, who let this irresponsible jackass into the club.

If, in an effort to solve this problem, they push for the abandonment of Dodger Stadium and the construction of a new ballpark, it will be perhaps the most craven, cynical and shameless undertaking attempted since Selig took over. Sure, we can all identify a way in which Dodger Stadium is not ideal — traffic; location — but no sane person would have ever suggested its replacement absent Major League Baseball’s Frank McCourt problem.  As such, this kind of proposal is the equivalent of burning down the village in order to save it.

And it’s also why, even as a bluff, it’s useless and ineffective.

  1. nagrommit - Jul 14, 2011 at 8:58 AM

    A new Dodger Stadium? The horror! Think of the the history they’d be throwing away. I mean, that’s where Reggie Jackson tried to shoot Queen Elizabeth!

    • halladaysbiceps - Jul 14, 2011 at 9:01 AM

      Actually, that was Anaheim Stadium, not Dodgers Stadium.

      • catsmeat - Jul 14, 2011 at 9:07 AM

        Actually, the scenes were filmed at Dodger Stadium but represented as Anaheim in the film.

      • halladaysbiceps - Jul 14, 2011 at 9:10 AM

        I stand corrected. Very confusing. Since it’s the California Angels in the movie, why would they film the movie at Dodger Stadium? Did Anaheim Stadium want too much money from them to film there?

      • catsmeat - Jul 14, 2011 at 9:36 AM

        Beats me. As with most things in life, I would also guess it was a monetary issue.

      • clydeserra - Jul 14, 2011 at 9:55 AM

        “[i] Since it’s the California Angels in the movie, why would they film the movie at Dodger Stadium? [/i]”

        because nobody wants to go to orange county.

      • b7p19 - Jul 14, 2011 at 10:00 AM

        Same with Major League. Filmed in Milwaukee, set in Cleveland. It’s all about cost.

      • halladaysbiceps - Jul 14, 2011 at 10:06 AM

        b7p19,

        Yeah, but wouldn’t it cost more to film in Los Angeles than Anaheim? Generally, taxes and other consideration would be more in a larger city, hence cheaper to film in a smaller city.

        Just basing that on your Cleveland-Milwaukee comparison.

      • mrfloydpink - Jul 14, 2011 at 12:38 PM

        It is much cheaper to film in Los Angeles than in Orange County, as Dodger Stadium is within thirty miles of the intersection of Beverly and La Cienega (the thirty mile zone, or TMZ). Union contracts in Hollywood call for a lower rate for “local” work (that is, work within the TMZ) and a much higher rate for non-local work (that is, beyond the TMZ). Further, they would have a responsibility to provide housing and meals in non-local Orange County, but not in Los Angeles. This is one of the main reasons that UCLA doubles for nearly every college campus in the country in movies, TV, etc. See, for example, “Old School.”

      • losburrosinblue - Jul 14, 2011 at 2:17 PM

        Major League was filmed in Milwaukee because of scheduling issues with the Cleveland Indians and the Cleveland Browns. Though Naked Gun was probably due to $$.

    • howkre8iv - Jul 22, 2011 at 2:19 PM

      It is time for proponents of remaining in Dodger Stadium to visit many of the new ballparks. I have been to 18 of the 20 that are in existence. Dodger Stadium is clearly one of the worst ballpark experiences in the country. The food is terrible, getting to the ballpark is terrible due to no public transportation, the concessions lines call for a three inning wait because there are no restaurants or sports bars in or around the ballpark as there are at the new ballparks. There is no restaurant from which one can watch the game. There are no food courts or batting and pitching cages for the kids and young adults. Where are the shopping arcades, stadium clubs, novel architectural designs and museums that the new ballparks have which are revenue producers?

      More, studies clearly show that the revenue produced by a new ballpark can be quite significant. This in turn would enable the Dodgers to afford top rate free agents and join the elite Yankees, Red Sox & Phillies in that area. Do Angelonos want mediocrity in today’s baseball market and a championship once every 23 years? I cried during my last visits to old Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium, and Dodger fans can do the same with their badly outdated ballpark. Get over it, as you will be thrilled with a new ballpark and a greater chance at winning championships. A new ballpark in the downtown area in a prime city will attract major star power just as the Kings attracted Gretsky and the lakers attracted Wilt, Karee, Shaq & Kobe. Please don’t talk about history. Dodger Stadium is no Fenway Park and is no Wrigley Field, both of which were built some 50 years before Dodger Stadium.

  2. jdl1325 - Jul 14, 2011 at 9:05 AM

    Just have Selig appoint a commission to discovering exactly where will be the best place for the new stadium. That way no one will have to worry about it for a decade or so.

  3. juicejuicer - Jul 14, 2011 at 9:06 AM

    City law makers will NEVER approve a Downtown baseball stadium. AEG is encountering quite a bit of push back by city officials for their football stadium proposal. I cannot see a situation where they would want TWO baseball stadiums!

  4. tuftsb - Jul 14, 2011 at 9:19 AM

    Maybe they just can’t get the McCourt stench ouf of Dodger Stadium no matter how hard they try and have to move?

    By the way, Dodger Stadium is now the third oldest park after Fenway and Wrigley.

  5. Jonny 5 - Jul 14, 2011 at 9:20 AM

    Yeah, but Bud let baseball season overlap football season, he implemented the Home field advantage for the All star winning League, ignored, and more than likely encouraged steroid abuse, and killed the expos. Do you really think he thinks rationally? He’s got a boner to bury McCourt and is pulling his last bogeyman as his final act to try intimidate him, it’s not going to happen. Now, with that said, I wonder if Bud can get Frank’s ex to make him sell that stadium, and parking off as well? Would his debt to her and creditors over leverage his ability to keep these things? What a screwed up situation Bud has allowed to transpire here……

  6. koufaxmitzvah - Jul 14, 2011 at 9:50 AM

    The city of Los Angeles culpability in this whole mess extends to them rejecting Peter O’Malley’s bid to even investigate the possibility of putting a football stadium within the confines of Chavez Ravine. This essentially set the Fox circus in motion. Fox wanted to stop ESPN’s broadcast plans, while O’Malley felt that he couldn’t compete in the new baseball economic environment. (On this end, I think O’Malley overreacted. 1. He never would have signed Kevin Brown for $100 million, but I don’t think that would have been a bad thing; and 2. Look at the loser who eventually replaced his replacement.) By the way, the first game Rupert Murdoch ever saw was Opening Day of the first season Fox owned the team (and I don’t think he ever saw another game).

    If O’Malley got his football stadium, LA has a football team, Fox never has the Dodgers, and McCourt is sitting on his parking lot with some clam chowder.

    As for moving the Dodgers downtown, I have heard this rumor for years, and I am nowhere near City politics. Los Angeles was built on real estate. The no longer booming enterprise made many people rich for flipping land, and that’s what some vested interests have in mind right now. Some forbidding crack corner 20 years ago becoming the central focal point of “turning downtown in the crown jewel it deserves to be.”

    Nothing will surprise me.

    • koufaxmitzvah - Jul 14, 2011 at 9:53 AM

      What Bud needs to do is make sure the sale of the Dodgers includes everything that Frank McCourt got when he “bought” the Dodgers.

      And, Bud, I don’t care if you have to get the IRS on his ass, you’re going to freakin’ do that.

  7. tomemos - Jul 14, 2011 at 10:05 AM

    Craig, I don’t understand your reasoning. Your title says that the idea “makes no sense whatsoever.” Then you identify the practical problem that is (at least ostensibly) causing people to bring up this idea: that McCourt could be forced to sell the team but not the stadium. So it seems that the idea *does* make *some* sense whatsoever (you even write, “no one could sanely claim [the stadium] requires replacement for any reason other that the McCourt mess and the unsavory possibility of him being the landlord for any new Dodgers owner“). Okay, so you wrote a hyperbolic headline. No biggie.

    But then, you reject that reason with what seems to me a total non-sequitur: “But the McCourt mess is neither the fault nor the responsibility of the people of Los Angeles. It is the fault and responsibility of Bud Selig and Major League Baseball, who let this irresponsible jackass into the club.” Well, who the hell cares whose fault it is? What does that prove? Are the Dodgers supposed to play baseball in their massive sense of grievance? Will Selig let them play at his house as penance for letting the McCourt mess happen? They need a stadium to play in, particularly if the team is going to be sold. So what’s your solution to the problem?

  8. Bob Timmermann - Jul 14, 2011 at 10:15 AM

    I don’t think Los Angeles would build two Downtown stadiums. It would be hard enough to build one stadium. The NFL does love the Chavez Ravine area for a football stadium, so they might want to swap.

    But such a process would take years. At least 10.

  9. seanmk - Jul 14, 2011 at 10:21 AM

    maybe we’re also overating the dodgers stadium because of how old it is. i know traffic there is a pain, and i’d think that upgrade would need to be made on it, such as the 500 million that was supposed to be put into it. it’s more that the chances of another stadium being built are slim

  10. Bob Timmermann - Jul 14, 2011 at 10:22 AM

    Also, AEG is asking the City of Los Angeles to float some bonds to pay for the demolition of part of the L.A. Convention Center which would be replaced by the retractable roof Farmer’s Field. (Yes, they already sold the naming rights.)

    Some people in L.A. are skeptical of AEG’s intentions. The City Council seems to be lapping it all up however.

  11. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jul 14, 2011 at 10:31 AM

    If the good people of the city of Los Angeles were faced with a choice between allowing a new stadium or watching the Las Vegas Dodgers on TV they might be willing to bend a bit…

    Could the city try to take control of Dodger Stadium from McCourt citing eminent domain? I have never fully understood how that works, but isn’t it basically the city saying that they feel it is for the greater good of the community that they take your property away from you and give it to someone else? Living near Columbia University I have seen it in action over and over through the years.

    • tomemos - Jul 14, 2011 at 10:35 AM

      But I think the city would have to pay compensation, which could be pretty massive anyway—and, I imagine, then it would have to come entirely from city funds. (That’s my understanding; I hope someone will correct me if I’m wrong.)

    • Bob Timmermann - Jul 14, 2011 at 12:56 PM

      If the city used eminent domain to condemn the property, that would be the SECOND time they did it for that part of the city. And then they would have to use the property for some useful purpose. And the government can’t take your property from you just because people don’t like you. (Well, they could, but it’s hard through eminent domain.)

  12. recon163 - Jul 14, 2011 at 10:39 AM

    I can see the Dodgers getting a new stadium in Los Angeles. Despite all the waxing nostalgically about the ‘jewel’ if it were replaced, the people of LA would quickly embrace the new stadium and even more quickly forget the old stadium.

    Would there be support for a new stadium? Yes there would be. This is LA and we appreciate the new and hip. While Chavez Ravine holds a dear place in many minds, in LA we can get over that pretty quickly. And a visit to Camden Yards or ATT quickly illustrates to any sane person that Dodger Stadium is outdated.

    The thought that no sane person would suggest a replacement is ludicrous. How long should LA hold onto the stadium? Until Dodger Stadium is as old as Fenway? I would offer that anyone who thinks the stadium should never be replaced is not dealing with a full deck. It is inevitable, now is just as good a time as any and Dodger fans all know that eventually Dodgers Stadium will be replaced. In fact there has been talk over the last five years that a new stadium be constructed. Google ‘cornfield dodger stadium’ and you will see an idea was floated in 06 to replace Dodger Stadium.

    Overall in LA, there is a general sense that Dodger Stadium is no longer a desirable place to be. It is gaining a reputation similar to the Coliseum during the days of the Raiders. Families are being turned off by the vibe at the stadium, there is a sense that it is overrun with less than desirable company.

    Once the NFL stadium is built Dodger stadium will lose even more luster. Folks in LA will stay away as it falls even more out of grace. The NFL stadium will be new and cool, Dodger stadium will appear even older than it is. In the competition for suite dollars the Dodgers will fall behind as soon as the NFL’s stadium suites go on sale. The reluctance to replace the stadium because of nostalgia means the Dodgers are losing high and middle income patrons now and will continue to lose them in the future.

  13. brucewaynewins - Jul 14, 2011 at 10:40 AM

    Craig how else do you propose they get McCourt out of the new owners way? Is there anything the city can do to force McCourt out as property owner?

    • Utley's Hair - Jul 14, 2011 at 11:16 AM

      What about eminent domain? Villaraigosa’s office takes it over for the good of the city. As a rule, I am pretty much against lame-ass dirty tricks like eminent domain, but there are exceptions to every rule, right?

      • hep3 - Jul 14, 2011 at 3:07 PM

        Mayor Con Queso brokers eminent domain the way Rod Blagojevich brokers Senate seats.

      • Utley's Hair - Jul 14, 2011 at 3:50 PM

        Does Mayor Con Queso hang out with El Hamburguesa Burglar?

        But I do have to admit—though I don’t know why—that I looked at Villaraigosa’s name, thought of something like Ragu House. Of course that launched me into “Don’t get saucy with me, Bernaise” History of the World quotes.

  14. 1historian - Jul 14, 2011 at 11:57 AM

    California is another planet unto itself.

  15. monsor - Jul 14, 2011 at 12:20 PM

    dodger stadium is far from a jewel and anyone who thinks otherwise is blinded by overhyped glory. Aside from the deplorable conditions by which the property was acquired, the stadium is a monument to 60’s Los Angeles Hollywood fake-ness and has not substance or soul. We are talking bad views, uncomfortable bench seating in the outfield, no charm or identifying field features, terrible food options, separatist class system style seating, disgusting parking situation, and no public transportation…and all at the low low rate of your first born child. For years, Yankee fans refused to believe that there was anything wrong with Yankee stadium, but even they got wise. Dodger stadium may be the 3rd oldest park in the league but most certainly lacks the old world charm. Consider the fact that the 4th oldest park in the league is the Toronto Sky Dome. I’m just sick of people romanticizing something at isn’t there.

    • ericpwork - Jul 14, 2011 at 1:34 PM

      Our stadium has certainly seen better days and can be a real bugger when there is a 50,000+ sell-out. I guess its fortunate that that doesn’t happen so much any more. The stadium may have over capacity, but there is something to be said for the seats (and trough urinals) already being paid for, not the responsibility of our grandchildren.

  16. natstowngreg - Jul 14, 2011 at 12:39 PM

    A question for the Los Angeles-area residents in the audience. The assumption seems to be that there would be a new stadium. What if someone proposed renovating Dodger Stadium, as was done at Fenway?

    Just curious.

    I’ve visited Dodger Stadium twice. First time (1966), it was all shiny and packed with fans. Second time (2001), it looked a little faded, and wasn’t packed with fans at all. The Dodger Dogs were still good, though.

  17. ericpwork - Jul 14, 2011 at 1:29 PM

    History aside (contemporary or otherwise), have you all SEEN downtown LA? This is the place where churchs and temples cancel services when the freeway is shut down and cars are the moral equivalent of firearms, to be pried from our cold, dead fingers. Bottom line, new stadiums, for whatever sport, are a way for professional leagues to extract money from a community. The idea of putting not one bu two new stadia at the intersection of two of the most congested freeways in the country would seem laughable if it weren’t for all of the well-meaning folks who support it.

    While I’d rather see the Dodger’s stay, I think the franchise is worth more to the league than it is to the city. The city will survive, plus we LIKE watching our professional sports without league-imposed blackouts.

  18. dogsweat1 - Jul 14, 2011 at 4:19 PM

    The Dodgers never belonged to Los Angeles.

    The Dodger name belongs to Brooklyn.

    You have stolen this franchise. It’s time to rectify the situation.

    Give Los Angeles what it deserves, The Rays.

    Plenty of Rays in Los Angeles.

  19. kiwicricket - Jul 14, 2011 at 9:42 PM

    More roads….just what LA needs.

  20. kiwicricket - Jul 14, 2011 at 9:48 PM

    Why not just build a round multi-purpose stadium for both Football and Baseball? Oh, don’t forget the plastic grass. Win win.

  21. blackngold4life - Jul 17, 2011 at 12:51 AM

    LOL LA OWNS THAT DODGER™ LOGO NOW..BROOKLYN MFS GET OVA IT ALREADY..NOW U SEE THE “ANAHEIM” ANGELES TRYN TO STEAL OUR LA SWAGG CUZ NO ONE WANTS TO REALLY BE ASSOCIATED WITH THAT ORANGE COUNTY HELL HOLE ..IF IT WASENT FOR THIS MESS WITH OWNERSHIP
    GAURENTEE THIS WUD BE MORE THEN A RUMOR..BUT THE REALLITY IS MY TEAM IS SINKING FAST..AND LAs BUDGET IS SINKING FASTER.. AS FOR “TRADITION” IF YANKEE STADIUM CAN GO..SO CAN DODGER STADIUM..HELL WE BUILDN A MULTI MILLION $ FOOTBALL COMPLEX AND WE DONT HAVE A NFL TEAM YET.. LOL NEVER DOUBT US IN THE CITY OF ANGELES

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