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When Will Dodger Stadium's Makeover Begin?

The future according to Frank McCourt
The future according to Frank McCourt
LA Dodgers

Today's Eastsider L.A. looks at what's cookin' at the Ravine. Or rather, how quiet the L.A. Dodgers and owner Frank McCourt have been over plans to spend half a billion dollars to give  the team's ballpark a megaplex makeover, by developing it into a year-round sports, theater and retail complex. The Dodgers have been so quiet, in fact, that neighbors in the surrounding Elysian Park and Solano Canyon communities haven't been kept informed of what's going on.

The Next 50, as the plan is called, is due to be completed by the ballpark's 50th birthday in 2012, and has the blessings of the mayor who, of course, pledged to surround it with lots of trees. Yet it's difficult to imagine anything being completed by then, considering that groundbreaking has yet to occur and probably won't until the season is over. There's no question that the ballpark needs modernizing and, while the approaches to the park are nicely landscaped, overall the sprawling property looks like the giant sea of heat-trapping asphalt that it is. (Watch Vin Scully gently remind us that the team has played longer at Dodger Stadium than at Ebbetts Field in Brooklyn, and that 50 years is an awfully long time for a stadium to be around.)

The question is, will it be a stadium surrounded by a Grove-like

shopping mall, and how much much construction hell are neighbors going

to have to endure? ("Sir, you can't have a tailgate party here -- it's where we're putting the

zeppelin dock!") To make matters worse, reports the Eastsider L.A., the stadium may be declared a billboard "sign district" that would allow it to ignore restrictions on illuminated signage. In the end, the economy may dictate when -- or

even, if -- McCourt's grand design sees the light of day. The city has recently watched more than a few construction projects dry up before completion and the Dodgers may want to see when the recession truly ends

before throwing money into their ravine.

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