LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers have announced plans for a $100 million renovation project that will modernize their ballpark ahead of next year's All-Star Game, an ambitious undertaking that will feature a new center-field plaza and a series of elevators and bridges that should allow for easier access throughout the stadium.
The project, revealed during a Tuesday news conference that unveiled the official logo for the 2020 Midsummer Classic, includes a statue for legendary pitcher Sandy Koufax. The Koufax statue will be dedicated at some point during the 2020 season and will sit alongside the team's statue of Jackie Robinson, which will be relocated from the left-field reserve to the entrance of the new center-field plaza.
Renovations for baseball's third-oldest ballpark are expected to be completed in time for the start of the 2020 regular season.
"We're usually screwing in bolts the morning of the first pitch," Dodgers president and CEO Stan Kasten said with a smile. "That's literally not an exaggeration."
The center-field plaza, which will give the Dodgers what amounts to a front door for the first time, will span nearly two acres and include new food establishments, a beer garden, a children's play area and space for live pre- and postgame music, among other amenities. It will also serve as a permanent home for the "Legends of Dodger Baseball" plaques.
The team will also dress the left-field and right-field pavilions with new restrooms, enclosed bars with views into the bullpens and standing-room areas. Elevators, escalators and bridges will be constructed to connect the new pavilion standing room decks to the rest of the stadium for a 360-degree connection around the park's perimeter. The iconic panoramic view beyond Dodger Stadium will not be compromised, nor will the current dimensions or capacity.
"We want to stay traditional in terms of baseball," Kasten said, "but we want to stay very much modern and up to date."
The Dodgers' ownership group has spent something in the neighborhood of $300 million on ballpark renovations since taking control of the team in 2012. The first phase included new plumbing, wider concourses and updated concessions. The next phase, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said, "is responsive to changing patterns of consumption, the way people like to see games. It puts them in a position where an iconic ballpark has all of those new amenities that fans seem to want."
Manfred said those renovations were not a contingent to hosting the All-Star Game, calling them "100 percent a Dodger decision." The team has previously stated plans to extend the protective netting to shield fans from foul balls in the near future; more details are expected to be announced next week.
The Dodger Stadium renovations were announced during a 40-minute outdoor session that was emceed by Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully and attended by Manfred, L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti and several current and former Dodgers luminaries, including Tommy Lasorda, Fernando Valenzuela, Steve Garvey, Clayton Kershaw, Cody Bellinger and Kenley Jansen, among others.
Plans for this project -- which will also include a new sound system, bar stools just beyond the outfield fences and standing room above a new batter's eye wall -- began more than a year ago. The team hopes it will encourage fans to arrive earlier and leave later. Dodgers senior vice president of planning and development Janet Marie Smith, who spearheaded the project, believes the upgrades "will support Dodger Stadium going forward another 50 years."
Only Wrigley Field in Chicago and Fenway Park in Boston are older than Dodger Stadium, which opened in 1962 and will host the All-Star Game for the second time next summer.
"We haven't been here since 1980," Manfred said from the lectern. "It's long overdue."