One of the Los Angeles Dodgers' new signings is much more adept at using a pen and paper than a bat and ball. As part of a plan to "improve" Dodger Stadium, the team has hired stadium designer Janet Marie Smith to possibly add retail shopping, hotels, even condos to Chavez Ravine.
I must admit, as a Dodger fan, it makes me a little nervous. The idea of hotels, shops, restaurants and even condos at Dodger Stadium is cool, but it seems to me there are a lot more ways to screw it up than there are to get it right. The atmosphere and experience of going to a Dodger game at Dodger Stadium is sacred to us fans and we just want things to stay the same.
I do think Smith has a strong track record at creating cool baseball experiences, especially with her design of Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore. I've been to that ballpark and it really is a state-of-art facility with all the cool bells and whistles modern fans seem to demand. I also think there are fans like me who can appreciate a park like Camden Yards and still not want those changes made here in Los Angeles. Smith also worked on Turner Field in Atlanta and the recent renovations at Boston's Fenway Park.
Smith does have a history in L.A., she lived here in the 1980s and was in charge of the efforts to revive Pershing Square, a downtown park about five minutes from where I live. I think this was (and is) a colossal failure and the park (a big, ugly concrete area with weird 80s sculptures) is mainly used by the local homeless population as a rest area and outdoor toilet.
Smith did comment on her assignment with the Dodgers, saying her intent is to "restore and enhance the park in a way that honors its heritage and highlights its distinctive appeals, while still capturing what fans want and franchises need in a modern venue." I like her thinking but I'm worried the economic pressures from the Dodgers ownership will push her away from that noble goal.
There has been talk about developing the area around Dodger Stadium for years, including discussions of adding an NFL stadium, but nothing has ever moved past the planning stage. Dodger Stadium is in an idyllic location, on 365-plus acres on a little hilltop oasis only minutes from downtown Los Angeles. While the area does have the room and the space for development, I think the ballpark is so perfect now, no big changes should be made, please, just leave it the way it is.
Freddy Sherman grew up in Philadelphia, which didn't make being a Los Angeles Dodgers fan easy. He has lived in Los Angeles for twenty years, now able to follow the Dodgers openly and attends games frequently. You can follow him on Twitter -@thefredsherman.Dodgers Injury Update: Fan's Take