Here’s a way city hall can strong arm the Dodgers into paying at least part of the cost of providing public transportation to the stadium during baseball season.
The free tram to Dodger Stadium proved very popular during a test run during the last portion of the season. Councilman Bill Rosendahl told the Times' Steve Hymon that city officials claim it would cost $350,000 to run the tram during the 2009 season. As Hymon put it, “ Rosendahl was ticked because the Dodgers wouldn't pick up any of the cost this year, saying that baseball teams shouldn't have to pay for mass transit. That's government's job, the team said. ‘The city isn't going to pay for it if I have my way’, Rosendahl said.”
This is the same Dodger team that raised the prices for parking in its huge stadium lot to $15. It is the team that is charging $90 a ticket for prime seating at its new spring training stadium in Arizona.
City hall has a lot going for it in this dispute. The Dodgers need the council and the mayor to vote for the environmental impact report and possibly other permits required for the fancy mall and new entrance planned for the stadium.
More important, the Dodgers really need city hall for the big zoning and other regulatory changes required if Frank and Jamie McCourt, the team’s owners, ever go ahead with a big residential and commercial development on the fringes of the 300 acres of Chavez Ravine that the team owns. McCourt always downplays his interest in such a development, but he’s a real estate guy. And from where I sit in the stadium, looking over the parking lot, I can just visualize where the condos, stores, restaurants, bars and clubs would go. They’d call it Dodger City or Stadium Heights and it would be huge money making development when the recession ends and building resumes. And the new residents could use a tram to get downtown.
City hall folks are entertained well by the Dodgers. Council members hang out in the McCourt luxury box. The mayor is welcomed in the McCourts’ front-row seats. During one of those baseball interludes, the mayor and the council members should tell the McCourts: “You want that zoning? You want the EIR approved? Then put some money in for the tram.”
Everyone else in the city has to grease the way, usually with campaign contributions, for big zoning and EIR votes. Let the McCourts grease the way, too.