Dodger Stadium is undoubtedly one of the most iconic stadiums in the United States. This venerated Los Angels landmark opened in 1962, and it is still going strong, nearly 60 years since its inauguration. This happens to be the oldest ballpark in MLB west of the Mississippi River, and it is ranked as the third-oldest baseball venue in the country, followed only by the famed Fenway Park in Boston, and the iconic Wrigley Field, in Chicago, IL. As the name might suggest, Dodgers Stadium is home to the Los Angeles Dodgers, LA’s major league baseball legends.
The stadium’s roots date back to the 1950s, slightly under a decade before the Dodger stadium’s actual inauguration. Some people might already know this, but the Dodgers were an East Coast team before moving to LA. They were known as Brooklyn Dodgers! The team’s former president, Walter O’Malley, had a grand vision for a brand new stadium. He wanted something that was not only functional but also massive and iconic. He loved the idea of building a domed stadium and wanted to construct one in Brooklyn. After several years of fighting for the process, he could not come to terms with the city, and he was unable to secure land and building permits. Frustrated and disillusioned with the feasibility of building a stadium in New York City, O’Malley decided to take a leap and a big one at that! He moved the whole team to Los Angeles, basically on the other half of the country.
In Los Angeles, O’Malley was able to secure some land in an area known as Elysian Park Heights, which was being developed into a public housing project. However, the political climate was beginning to shift just as the Dodgers were looking to come to town. It was decided that some of the land was to be diverted from public housing and used for a venue with a public purpose. Many Mexican-Americans who owned land on the premises did not want to leave their homes, giving way to a struggle that dragged on for nearly ten years, now known as “The Battle of Chavez Ravine,” after the name of the land. By the end of the 50s, local voters supported the idea of building a baseball stadium, and the Dodgers were in the right place, at the right time.
With a growing interest in soccer in the United States, several international teams had the opportunity to play there, including Italian team Juventus, Real Madrid, and Everton, only to mention a few. The stadium has also hosted several games with LA Galaxy, a local soccer team.
In addition to the many games and other sporting events, the Dodger stadium hosted many notable concerts. The most famous show remains The Beatles’ now-legendary LA performance, on their first tour of the United States. However, the venue also hosted shows from iconic artists such as Guns’N’Roses, as well as The Cure, David Bowie, and ultimately, Michael Jackson, recording a crowd of over 330.000 people over six shows!
Dodger Stadium was also featured extensively on popular media. It appeared in hit movies such as The Fast and the Furious (2001) and The Core, Transformers, and Rock of Ages, starring actor Tom Cruise as a rock musician performing at the venue. One of the most notable events was an appearance by beloved catholic pope John Paul II, who celebrated holy mass at the stadium in 1987 to an audience of several thousand people.