It’s out of the question: Why the Ravine will never see football

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There’s a brick wall in right field at Wrigley Field waiting for a Northwestern wideout to run right smack into it this afternoon. It might as well be advertised as an outdoor Arena Football game.

Later today, there’ll be a bunch of Notre Dame football players fighting over Derek Jeter’s locker at Yankee Stadium. Then they’ll hike over to the monuments to see if Babe Ruth approves of this whole spectacle.

Laying a gridiron over a ball diamond can be a dicey, pricey proposition. But also, if done right, very cool.

So when do we start a campaign to push for a USC-UCLA college football game at Dodger Stadium?

In November, 1982, USC president James Zumberge asked Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley if the Trojans would be welcome to toss the pigskin around in his ballyard for the ’83 season. USC had a dispute with the Coliseum Commission over control of luxury boxes planned for the Coliseum (which were never built).

O’Malley tackled that request quickly: “It doesn’t make any sense to play football in Dodger Stadium. … We have the finest baseball stadium in the United States.”


Back at the old Ebbets Field in the late ’40s, the Brooklyn Dodgers football team, as part of the All-American Football League, elbowed its way into that tiny facility. That was a couple of years before O’Malley’s dad, Walter, took control of Dodgers baseball. No more of that.

The baseball-friendly stadium that the O’Malleys built in Chavez Ravine for the Dodgers in the early ’60s – after they were laughed at for carving out a baseball diamond in the Coliseum – once had part of a football field lined in the outfield. But that was just for a TV commercial shoot, says Dodgers team historian Mark Langill.

That’s as close as it’s ever gotten. And probably ever will.

The original Dodger Stadium configuration may have had more foul ground, but sources tell us, they tried to see if a football field would lay over the grounds, and it barely fit as it was. Now, with all the newer permanent box seats pushing things out, would there even be anything close to room for a gridiron?

“It could work, but it might be awkward,” Langill said. “I just know that I’ve never seen a proposal for a field, as far as someone laying out a blueprint.”

Football, ironically, was the last straw to O’Malley owning the Dodgers. In the late ’90s, he entertained ideas of building a football stadium in the Dodger Stadium parking lot, to lure an NFL team back to L.A. But mayor Dick Riordan told him the city would be better focused on fixing up the Coliseum. O’Malley took his baseball and went home.

Dodger Stadium has hosted a Papal Mass and a boxing match, a basketball game with the Harlem Globetrotters, and concerts by the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, U2 and the Three Tenors. They once set up a ski-jump ramp over the right-field stands, but the snow machine didn’t work.

In January, the Dodger Stadium grounds will be covered in tons of dirt so that (egads) a motocross can happen for the first time.

But football?

Punt that idea right now.

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