The tour begins in Chapter 1. Above Dodger Stadium. Where the mountain backdrop, the magnificent playing surface and 56,000 seats all stand out.
Before thousands of fans head to the ballpark each night, groups of ten walk the grounds on guided tours each afternoon.
They go from the top floor to the field level seats. From the historic hallway leading to the clubhouse, where World Series trophies and century awards adorn the walls, to the baseball diamond the Dodgers have called home for the past 60 years.
They don’t come for modern needs. They don’t see many advanced features. They are not surprised by the architectural developments.
This place offers something different. A portal to the future. A connection for now.
And, even after all this time, a sporting and cultural gem that is supposed to remain well into the future.
“It’s kind of like the cathedral of baseball,” Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner said.
In fact, while many places can be called one of baseball’s spiritual homes, Dodger Stadium is near the top of the list.
And this week, he will once again be under the biggest spotlight in the sport.
For the first time since 1980, Dodger Stadium will host Major League Baseball’s All-Star game. And while such big names as Aaron Judge, Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout may headline, it’s the 60-year-old stadium that, as much as anything else, will take center stage.
“When you get that deep as a player,” Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw said, “I don’t think there’s anything better.”
“It’s long overdue,” Turner added. “That energy and that buzz and that atmosphere that’s created here, which has a lot to do with our fan base, makes it an exciting place to play.”
Not only that, Dodger Stadium has the largest seating capacity in baseball.
Or that it is the third-oldest major league venue, behind only Wrigley Field and Fenway Park.
Or they, of MLB’s 30 existing stadiums, mimic its style a little bit, relate to its history or offer an equally different feel.
“Dodger Stadium sits there by itself — literally and figuratively — in this cavernous park that is created by Chavez Ravine,” said Janet Marie Smith, a longtime stadium architect who serves as the Dodgers’ vice president of planning. surrounded is very unique and special.” and development.
“I regret using the word ‘unique,'” she added in a recent interview. “But it’s hard to think of a better word.”
More than a decade ago, Peter O’Malley found a sketch in his father’s old files.
Now it hangs on a wall in his high-rise office in downtown LA, a hand-painted rendering of Dodger Stadium that makes the ballpark itself obsolete.
The story of Walter O’Malley’s decision to move the Dodgers from Brooklyn to Los Angeles is nothing new.
A native New Yorker, Walter spent the better part of a decade trying to build a new home for the franchise in Brooklyn. When he couldn’t make a land deal with the city, he considered moving.
Los Angeles officials courted him to move west. Later, on a helicopter trip in 1957, Walter flew over Chavez Ravine. Dreams of a big new stadium started dancing in his head.
About two years before Dodger Stadium opened in 1962, Walter and a team of stadium architects completed the now-framed plan, detailing everything from the design of the concrete beams to the arrangement of each seating level to the palm trees and plant life that on stage round
In the corner, Walter’s handwriting indicates a difficult capacity for all four stadium decks.
Petrus, who was 24 when the stadium opened and still vividly remembers the years-long process that went into it, “had no doubt in my father’s mind what it was going to look like.” “Yes, he had people helping him. Great staff. But they knew what he wanted and what he didn’t want. When it opened, it was a proud moment.”
It also came at an important point in baseball history.
From the mid-1950s to the early 1970s, new ballparks sprung up around the United States, first in new major league markets such as Milwaukee and Minnesota, then as more longtime franchises moved to newer, newer locations in cities. were themselves
Most of them had similar characteristics: colossal concrete structures, usually designed to house a co-tenant from the NFL, and usually without much surrounding scenery or architectural charm.
Dodger Stadium was different. There were natural baseball scenes in an almost flawless design. It was an urban park but it was surrounded by a lush, mountainous mountain.
And while other stadiums of its era eventually went out of style, giving way to a new generation of ballparks built in the last quarter-century, Dodger Stadium has retained its charm.
It has ascended to iconic status.
It has become, in a city that is always changing around, a timeless landmark that is too beloved to change.
“It’s one of the few places in baseball that’s a baseball park, where there’s no weird stuff,” said Dave Roberts, who spent 2002 to 2004 with the Dodgers as a player before becoming manager before the 2016 season. “The bones of this ball park, it’s still a baseball field. And that’s something that makes this one like Wrigley or Fenway in that conversation.
Peter O’Malley, who inherited the Dodgers when his father died in 1979 before selling the club to News Corp. in 1997, recalled how during his tenure, proposals to investigate building a new stadium downtown or in Century City has never been considered.
“What little interest they may have had in the beginning, it just went down and down,” he said. “[Dodger Stadium] will stay there for a long time.”
Even his father, he believes, could have imagined the length of the stadium he had achieved.
“I’m not sure what happened to him,” O’Malley said. “I think what happened to him was that he saw the place, the opportunity.”
Sixty years later, Walter O’Malley’s vision lives on.
Of course, his ball has changed over the years.
The gas station in the center’s parking lot, part of a marketing agreement that helped finance the project, was removed a while ago. New sections of ground level seating were added to the previously contaminated area. The outdoor pavilions have been renovated and expanded. Last year, the entrance area was opened in the central area.
But the mid-century architecture, simple seating design and informal ambience of the place remain six decades later.
“It just gets more glorious as time goes on,” said Smith, who oversaw the latest renovations, in which he was careful to emphasize and update the stadium’s traditional style.
“The feeling and the traditions at Dodger Stadium are just unbelievable,” she said. “I think it’s a testament to our club and our fan base that he has such a unique concept, one that really resonates across the park on a daily basis.”
That will be especially true Tuesday night, when the Midsummer Classic is held at Chavez Ravine for the first time since 1980, when Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes, Jerry Reuss, Bob Welch, Reggie Smith and Bill Russell ( the Dodgers’ all-time leader for games played at the stadium) were in the National League.
“It’s just an incredibly historic place,” said Matt Gangl, the lead director for Fox Sports’ television coverage of the event, which will be tasked with capturing the atmosphere for millions of viewers.
“You have to respect the fact that there is a lot of history there,” he added.
This is why the ballpark has become relevant over time, why its importance around baseball and the South has grown over the years.
It’s not the nicest place in baseball. It lacks the light and luxury of new places around adults.
Yet it remains a sensation for long-time fans and leaves first-time and long-time visitors alike in awe—every afternoon begins with hikers looking down on a panoramic view of six decades of memories.
“I think the Dodger Stadium experience and the culture of our fans is just electric,” Smith said, before adding with a laugh: “I like to think it’s all about the architecture, but I know better than that.”