Many of us were curious when the Dodgers hired Janet Marie Smith back to Los Angeles in July to serve as senior vice president of planning and development. Smith had overseen major renovations at famous stadiums in Boston, Baltimore and Atlanta. Would one come for Dodger Stadium as well?
At a news conference Tuesday, Smith and Dodger President Stan Kasten confirmed that a $100 million facelift is already underway at the historic stadium.
Stressing a "Focus on Fans," Smith and Kasten outlined a number of improvements that they hope will be completed by opening day, April 1, 2013.
Perhaps most significantly for the stadium's immediate as well as distant neighbors is the installation of a new state-of-the-art sound system. Speakers located in sections will minimize echo for fans and its overflow out into the community.
Dodger Stadium will also no longer be a Wi-Fi dead zone. Installation of a new Wi-Fi system and cellphone towers has already begun.
Other fan-friendly changes include upgraded video screens on scoreboards and expanded restroom capacity—by as much as 62 percent for women.
Rows of chairs are also being removed from each stadium level to allow for wheelchairs and to give fans a place to socialize.
On the field, the vintage clubhouses will be expanded, with additional locker room and training space to be created nearby. A batting cage is being built for visiting teams.
Smith said the Dodgers are going to dig into their archives to create some family-friendly educational experiences. Play areas where kids can climb on replicas of World Series rings and giant Bobbleheads of legendary players are one example.
The Cy Young, MVP and other awards garnered by Dodger players over the decades will also be moved out of storage and put on display.
Both Kasten and Smith stressed that these upgrades are only the first phase of changes at the stadium.
They said they were selected both for their immediate ability to improve fans' experience at the stadium and for their high probability of being completed in time for the 2013 season.
We shall see.