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July 14, 2011

MLB mulling Dodgers downtown move?

Rumors of a combined Dodgers-NFL stadium deal in Los Angeles is back in the mill again, this time courtesy of Sports By Brooks:

In the past 48 hours multiple sources have confirmed to me that MLB has reached out to AEG to inquire about the possibility of the company assisting the league - and the next permanent owner of the team - in building a downtown ballpark for the Dodgers.
AEG already owns the Staples Center in downtown L.A. and has proposed a plan to the city of Los Angeles to build an NFL stadium in the same area - along with the renovation of a wing of the city's dilapidated convention center.
A downtown Los Angeles stadium for the Dodgers would theoretically satisfy MLB's desire to completely extract McCourt from any financial interest in the franchise while also boosting the financial fortunes of AEG's L.A. Live development.

Note that unlike the last time something like this was rumored, it was as a land swap, with AEG building on the current Dodger Stadium site with its plentiful parking, and the Dodgers going downtown. This time, it sounds as if the idea is to put both baseball and football downtown, though lord knows where you'd fit them both, while leaving Dodgers (and Dodger Stadium) owner Frank McCourt entirely out in the cold.

Both MLB and AEG have issued denials, but you'd expect them to, whether there's any truth to this or not. More to the point, as MSNBC's Craig Calcaterra writes, is that the latest rumor doesn't make a damn bit of sense:

I know about the football stadium thing people have talked about for downtown, but set your McCourt hate aside for a minute and ask yourself, what possible support could there be for a downtown stadium project for the Dodgers? And don't tell me that it's all AEG money, because no stadium project — not even the vaunted AT&T Park — is 100% privately financed. There would be tax abatements lobbied for and obtained. There would be infrastructure improvements required. Millions of public dollars would be spent on any stadium project, no matter what the press releases say about it being privately financed.
There is a gleaming, wonderful baseball stadium in Chavez Ravine that no one could sanely claim requires replacement for any reason other that the McCourt mess and the unsavory possibility of him being the landlord for any new Dodgers owner. But the McCourt mess is neither the fault nor the responsibility of the people of Los Angeles. It is the fault and responsibility of Bud Selig and Major League Baseball, who let this irresponsible jackass into the club.
If, in an effort to solve this problem, they push for the abandonment of Dodger Stadium and the construction of a new ballpark, it will be perhaps the most craven, cynical and shameless undertaking attempted since Selig took over. Sure, we can all identify a way in which Dodger Stadium is not ideal — traffic; location — but no sane person would have ever suggested its replacement absent Major League Baseball's Frank McCourt problem. As such, this kind of proposal is the equivalent of burning down the village in order to save it.

Calcaterra allows that it could be a bluff to scare McCourt into accepting a deal to relinquish the Dodgers, but notes that "a bluff is only as good as the target’s belief that the bluffer is willing to go through with it," making this one not so useful. Not that that's stopped Selig before.


I think that the statements:

"There is a gleaming, wonderful baseball stadium in Chavez Ravine that no one could sanely claim requires replacement..."


"Sure, we can all identify a way in which Dodger Stadium is not ideal — traffic; location — but no sane person would have ever suggested its replacement..."

are *exactly* why this should be taken seriously. Most other ballparks that were replaced had the same (non)issues, and dumber reasons have rationalized other ballparks/stadia in other places.

Posted by D Train on July 14, 2011 01:15 PM

If MLB is really pushing this, they are more wacked than I even thought before.Just to extract themselves from McCourt?? Where are they going to put a baseball stadium downtown? This would be an absolute joke. Chavez Ravine is a great location..I still think that the NFL stadium will not happen downtown either.

Posted by Rob S on July 14, 2011 02:28 PM

This is laughable. It seems obvious that this was leaked by someone at AEG. My guess is that someone is trying to plant the idea in Phil Anshutz' head that if they could just get the Dodgers (or Angels, for that matter) downtown, then all of those empty hotel rooms and struggling restaurants would fill up.

Posted by Ben Miller on July 14, 2011 03:58 PM

I've kept saying let AEG buy the Dodgers and the land, move them downtown and instead of a Football Stadium/Convention Events Center of Farmers Field, make it a Baseball Stadium/Convention Events Center where you would put the baseball stadium.

They can still privately finance it as they were the football stadium and just be done with it. Let City of Industry build there stadium instead for an NFL team.

Then Frank McCourt or AEG or whoever can demolish the old Dodger Stadium and sell the land they own at a premium. It's prime real estate.

Posted by NFL in LA on July 14, 2011 06:40 PM

@ Ben Miller:

I'm curious - is LA Live! struggling?

I ask mostly since here in Edmonton LA Live! is held up as some panacea for Edmonton to aspire to (never mind the obvious hole in that logic being the differences in weather between the two cities) with it's proposed arena district and all the marvels that come with that.

Posted by Andrew T on July 14, 2011 07:00 PM

Apparently this report has been discredited as nothing but the fantasy musings of one reporter that got blown way out of proportion. The real story was that AEG contacted MLB, but it wasn't about a new ballpark, it was a preliminary exploration inquiring about AEG managing post McCourt Dodger Stadium for MLB.

Posted by Dan on July 14, 2011 11:22 PM

Source, Dan?

Posted by Neil deMause on July 14, 2011 11:41 PM

On game nights, many places at LA Live do very well. The movie theater struggles, but they've tried to fix that by offering cheaper parking. The hotels are the big boondoggle. They were part of a general overbuilding of downtown. My theory is that Anshutz is unhappy with the hotels, and these stadium proposals are sort of throwin good money after bad in an attempt to get the hotels to work.

As far as a similar area in Edmonton goes, it's tough to say. I was told when I was in KC that the P&L district Is a success and that a new arena is a big part of that.

Posted by Ben Miller on July 15, 2011 11:15 AM

"My theory is that Anshutz is unhappy with the hotels, and these stadium proposals are sort of throwin good money after bad in an attempt to get the hotels to work."

Hey, just like Bruce Ratner with his mediocre malls in Brooklyn!

As for Power and Light, um, not so much:

Posted by Neil deMause on July 15, 2011 11:29 AM

Ridiculous - Dodger Stadium is a Top 5 MLB stadium. It shouldn't be destroyed just because of a bad era of ownership or by some greedy developers or some douche who wants the stupid NFL instead.

Posted by Mark on July 15, 2011 12:02 PM

Here you go Neil

Posted by Dan on July 15, 2011 12:40 PM

Wow, the 49ers AND Dodgers in one stadium? Color me excited!

Posted by John on July 15, 2011 01:24 PM

I agree that Dodger stadium is the 'pawn' in this particular charade. But in considering how this will play out, please don't lose sight of how Dodger stadium came into existence at Chavez Ravine in the first place...

Yep, all things return to the sea, as the man said...

BTW, anyone else wondering how MLB feels about approving McCourt's near 100% debt acquisition of the club from Murdoch these days?

Posted by John Bladen on July 15, 2011 01:27 PM

They should seize control of the Dodgers and move them downtown. Get rid of McIdiot completely. Let him try to build homes at Chavez Ravine. The City and residents denied it once before and are going to deny it again. McIdiot would be left with an empty stadium and parking lots. The site would go into foreclosure and he would lose everything. Dodger could play at the Colosseum or share with SD and Anaheim until one is built.

Posted by Jeffrey on July 15, 2011 02:33 PM

Krazy Konspiracy theory: MLB extracts McCourt from his properties, but retains the split btw franchise and land. Oakland and Tampa franchises contracted. Dodgers franchise awarded to Stu Sternberg. Chavez Ravine awarded to John Fisher and Lew Wolff. Sternberg free to pay rent to Fisher and Wolff, or to pursue a downtown stadium with AEG or whomever else is willing to go in with MLB on financing. Fisher and Wolff serve as Sternberg's landlords until new downtown stadium is built, at which time they either entice an NFL franchise to the site, and/or develop Chavez Ravine (commercial/housing/hotel/convention? film studio expansion site?).

Posted by monkeyball on July 18, 2011 08:35 PM

Nice theory, but it ignores the fact that contraction is off the table for the next 3-5 years under the coming CBA. So no, won't happen.

Posted by Dan on July 18, 2011 09:59 PM

I really love your blog, it is very informative. Keep up the good work!!

Posted by Golma Garcia on November 21, 2011 02:53 PM

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