Janet Marie Smith, perhaps the most successful ballpark executive in the last 20 years, will attempt to work her magic at Dodger Stadium, as the team names her Senior VP of Planning and Development.
The most important task for her: overseeing renovations to Dodger Stadium, a project promised by the new Los Angeles Dodgers ownership even before they took control of the storied franchise.
"I'm looking forward to working with the new Dodgers ownership to find ways to create an even better fan experience," Smith said. "Dodger Stadium is a treasured piece of the Los Angeles community and a special place where I watched more than a dozen games per season when I lived in L.A. during the early 1980s. It's important to all of us that we restore and enhance the park in a way that honors its heritage and highlights its distinctive appeals, while still capturing what fans want and franchises need in a modern venue."
The hiring reunites Smith with Dodgers president Stan Kasten, who worked with Smith on both Turner Field and Philips Arena when they were working for Turner Sports.
"Dodger Stadium is one of the most iconic venues in sports and Janet Marie is one of the few people I would trust with its future," said Kasten. "She respects baseball's tradition and knows how to retain a ballpark's distinctive charms while providing fans with the amenities and comfort they've come to expect. Any fan that has walked through the gates at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the renovated Fenway Park or Atlanta's Turner Field has been a beneficiary of her understanding of what a ballpark means to its community. Every new baseball stadium built since 1992 has been influenced by what she helped build at Camden Yards. And we thank Orioles owner Peter Angelos for allowing Janet Marie to join us."
Smith had two stints with the Baltimore Orioles -- 1989-1994 and 2009-present -- where she oversaw the design and operations at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the first retro ballpark in Major League Baseball, serving as a blueprint for several new facilities since. She also spent seven years with the Boston Red Sox as Senior Vice President of Planning and Development, overseeing preservation of and improvements to historic Fenway Park, including the installation of Green Monster seating.
She'll draw heavily on that Fenway Park experience in approaching changes to Dodger Stadium, the third-oldest venue in Major League Baseball and a historic facility requiring a lot of TLC. The challenge will be to keep the basic look of the ballpark -- and maybe playing up the midcentury-modern look -- while adding some new features fans expect in a modern facility, like kids' play areas, historic displays and more. Renovations should begin this winter in anticipation of the 2013 season.
Orioles owner Peter Angelos issued a nice press statement on the departure of Smith:
“The Orioles greatly appreciate Janet Marie Smith’s efforts over the past three years, as she has overseen the construction of our widely lauded ballpark in Sarasota and many significant enhancements to Oriole Park at Camden Yards. In Sarasota, the goal was to create a ballpark that the local community and all of our fans would be proud to visit, and after two record-setting springs, this has clearly been achieved.
“At Oriole Park, we asked Janet Marie to enhance the fan experience, honor our history, and revitalize some areas of the ballpark with new, more contemporary concepts. And in this 20th anniversary season, those objectives have resulted in bringing our fans the Roof Deck, Dempsey’s and the Orioles Legends sculptures.
“Janet Marie was the perfect choice to oversee these projects, and we wish her the best of luck in her new role with the Dodgers.”
RELATED STORIES: Kasten: Dodger Stadium renovations could hit nine figures; New Dodgers owners: We need to upgrade fan experience; New owners take control of Los Angeles Dodgers; Court approves Dodgers sale
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