Fifty years ago next month, Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley opened up his gorgeous ballpark at Chavez Ravine.
Dodger Stadium is still the most unique park in Major League Baseball, with breathtaking views of downtown Los Angeles, the Elysian hills and the San Gabriel Mountains.
But what really makes Dodger Stadium special among ballparks is the number of people who show up for games — year after year after year, decade after decade after decade.
Dodger Stadium has drawn 140 million fans, easily the most in baseball history. (By comparison, Fenway Park in Boston has drawn 130 million fans despite opening in 1912).
More interesting facts about Dodger Stadium, courtesy of Dodgers.com:
–The 56,000-seat stadium has parking for 16,000 automobiles on 21 terraced lots adjacent to the same elevations as the six different seating levels.
–More than 3,400 trees cover the 300 acres of beautiful landscape, which is maintained by a full-time staff of gardeners.
–The Dodgers employ a full-time grounds crew and maintenance staff that keeps all aspects of the stadium in immaculate condition throughout the season making Dodger Stadium one of the best maintained facilities in the country.
–The Dodger Stadium field was named the best in baseball by Sports Illustrated in 2003 in a poll of Major League players. Of the responses, 23.2 percent of players rated Dodger Stadium as the best-quality playing field, more than twice as many as any other stadium.
–At the gates, an average of more than 2.85 million fans have watched Dodger games at Dodger Stadium per season. In 1978, Dodger Stadium became the first ballpark to host more than three million fans in a season when the Dodgers drew 3,347,845 in attendance.
–Following another three-million attendance mark in 1980, the Dodgers set the all-time Major League season attendance record in 1982, drawing 3,608,881 fans. Toronto, Colorado and Atlanta have since topped that mark, but the Dodgers can also boast seasons of more than three million in attendance from 1983-86, 1990-91, 1993 and 1996-2006. Nine of the top 25 NL single-season attendance marks have been recorded at Dodger Stadium.
–During the 20th century, the only privately-financed ballparks in Major League Baseball were Yankee Stadium (built in 1923) and Dodger Stadium. Walter O’Malley and architect Emil Praeger set the stage for baseball’s most popular and beautiful showplace when they began designing the Dodgers’ new home. The stadium opened its doors on April 10, 1962 and the Dodgers won their first game at their new home the next day on April 11 when they defeated the Cincinnati Reds, 6-2. The Dodgers drew 2,755,184 fans at Dodger Stadium during its inaugural season.
–Dodger Stadium has hosted eight World Series and the Dodgers have won four World Championships (1963, 1965, 1981 and 1988), eight NL pennants (1963, 1965, 1966, 1974, 1977, 1978, 1981, 1988), 11 NL Western Division crowns (1974, 1977, 1978, 1981, 1983, 1985, 1988, 1995, 2004, 2008, 2009) and two NL Wild Card berths (1996, 2006).
–The stadium hosted the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in 1980 and the Olympic Games’ baseball competition in 1984. The eight-team competition during the 1984 Olympic Games marked baseball’s greatest involvement in the Olympic Games to that point.
–Dodger Stadium has been the site of several non-baseball major events, as Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass at Dodger Stadium on Sept. 16, 1987. Entertainers from around the world have performed there as well, such as KISS, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, The Bee Gees, Elton John, Simon and Garfunkel, Michael Jackson, David Bowie, Genesis, Eric Clapton, U2, the Dave Matthews Band, and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Dodger Stadium also staged one of the world’s greatest entertainment events in 1994 when internationally renowned tenors Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti reunited for a spectacular concert performance “Encore – The Three Tenors” with conductor Zubin Mehta.