In one of the most anticipated home openers in decades, the Dodgers on Friday will celebrate the franchise's first World Series title since 1988 -- and they'll do it with fans in the stands.
- When the Dodgers welcome fans back to Dodger Stadium today for the first time since October of 2019, they'll be welcomed by a ballpark that features some changes.
- So odd thinking about October of 2019, right?
- The venue has undergone a $100 million renovation.
- Eyewitness News reporter, John Gregory, is live with more. John.
JOHN GREGORY: And I remember we talked about that renovation. We did plenty of stories on it. Then nobody got to enjoy it. I mean, the stadium looks great. It's very different from what many fans may remember. And finally, fans will actually get to see it. And here to talk about it, Janet Marie Smith, the lady behind it all. Thanks for joining us so early in the morning. Talk about the biggest changes here.
JANET MARIE SMITH: Well, we have renovated the pavilions in the outfield. We created a new center field Plaza. It's a brand new front door to Dodger Stadium. And we've added escalators, elevators, bridges, just made it easier to go 360 around this place.
JOHN GREGORY: And that's the thing you could not do that in the park.
JANET MARIE SMITH: No, it wasn't designed for that. It was designed to come in on your level and stay there. Fans just don't stay in their seats. Plus there's so much to see.
JOHN GREGORY: And I was noticed by the bullpen. You can get pretty close to where the pitchers are practising.
JANET MARIE SMITH: Oh, my goodness. You can-- there's a spot to sit right above the bullpen. You can go to the geauga bar, and you'll be right there at the same level as the pitcher. It's pretty amazing.
JOHN GREGORY: I also love the idea of this home run seats right against the fence there.
JANET MARIE SMITH: Aren't they special? Yeah, you are right there in the action and might as well be an outfielder.
JOHN GREGORY: How frustrating was it last year to do all this work and not have anybody come and enjoy it?
JANET MARIE SMITH: Well, Gregory, there are a lot of things frustrating about 2020, right? And so it was difficult to finish up this project in the middle of COVID, and it was even more difficult to have a construction complete and not be able to have fans. But that all changes today. So we can't wait.
JOHN GREGORY: You were talking about it's kind of like spring and renewal and a new season, and you kind of feel like a fresh start.
JANET MARIE SMITH: Yeah, opening day is always a reset button. And no spring has ever felt more welcomed than 2021.
JOHN GREGORY: I'm with you. All right, Janet Marie Smith. Thanks for joining us. We certainly appreciate it. Yeah, the stadium looks great. I think fans are really going to love it. You can get right up close to the pitchers and the bullpen and those home run seats, they're going to be a very, very popular--