Dodgers president Stan Kasten returned from the construction zone that is Dodger Stadium with a vision of the future.
“Maybe not by Thursday,” he said, “but by Friday it will get done.”
The media, whose tour of the new-look stadium is still a few days away, aren’t the only ones skeptical of this pronouncement. The renovated clubhouses are supposed to be ready by Thursday, one day before the Dodgers host their first exhibition game against the Angels, and “I’m fully planning on winning several bets I had with a number of our players who doubted us,” Kasten said.
The ambitious project included unforeseen snags and cost overruns that ran the total bill “north” of $100 million, but overall Kasten had an upbeat outlook Saturday.
“We’re happy, proud and a little surprised it did get done,” he said.
If anything should make him nervous it’s Opening Day.
To that end, Kasten repeated a pledge for patience from fans that he anticipated back in January.
“Opening Day is always a big day,” he said. “It’s a sellout. It’s the smallest no-show day of the year. We have more fans physically in the park than we’ll have for any game all year and it’s the toughest day to work because we have new people, new systems. We have no way to do that except under fire. … Bear with us as we learn how to service our customers.”
Here were the highlights of Kasten’s media briefing Saturday at Camelback Ranch:
• The Dodgers are still selling 75-game season ticket packages, but they’re going to stop soon. “As a practical matter we’re going to wind up right around 31,000 season tickets,” Kasten said.
• During the first homestand, cellular phone service at the stadium will be the same as it was at the end of last season (that is, not very good). By the second, Kasten expects the improved, more “robust” cell service to be in operation.
• Wi-fi service upgrades are taking longer because of the time it took to replace the stadium’s original plumbing system. Kasten didn’t give an exact timeframe for its completion but he promised the “most elaborate, most extensive wi-fi network in baseball.”
• Exact details will be revealed later in the week (we think they were leaked here) but the shuttle service from Union Station to Dodger Stadium will be improved. “I encourage as many people as possible to use public transportation,” Kasten said. “It’ll be your quickest way into the ballpark.”
• When the stadium was gutted for structural upgrades, management was pleased with what it saw. The Dodgers might not be playing in Dodger Stadium 20 years from now, but it won’t be because the stadium is falling apart. “Structurally, this stadium can last for a very, very long time,” Kasten said. “I don’t know of an outer limit on its useful life.”
• An agreement for the Los Angeles Fire Department to become the sole provider of emergency services to Dodger Stadium, reportedly proposed by the team and not the city, hasn’t been finalized.