This Day In Dodgers History: Walter O’Malley Buys Land To Build Dodger Stadium

On February 18, 1960, then-Los Angeles Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley finalized the purchase of land that would be used for the construction of Dodger Stadium. O’Malley paid a reported $494,000 for the property at Chavez Ravine, which was believed to be worth $92,000 at the time.

The process took over a year and a half as O’Malley initially received approval from L.A. voters to purchase the land on June 3, 1958. The original push received enough total signatures from various petitioners to put the city’s contract with the Dodgers on a referendum.

The L.A. Chamber of Commerce then endorsed the deal, leaving it to the vote of the citizens during the State Direct Primary Election. When the voting was said and done, the citizens gave a 62.3% approval of the purchase.

At the time, the 677,581 total votes turned out to be the largest non-presidential number of voters, with 351,683 voting in favor of Proposition B.

Dodger Stadium construction officially began in 1959 and the team originally planned to open it in 1961, but landslides and lawsuits delayed the process. The Dodgers hosted the Cincinnati Reds in the first game at Dodger Stadium on April 10, 1962, in front of 52,564 fans.

Prior to settling into their new home, the Dodgers played four seasons at the the L.A. Coliseum. In addition to Dodger Stadium playing host to the Dodgers in their inaugural year, it was also home for the Los Angeles Angels for three seasons.

O’Malley family history with Dodgers

O’Malley became a part-owner of the Dodgers in 1947 and eventually secured full control nearly 30 years later. O’Malley’s son, Peter, would become team owner after his father’s death in 1979 and guided the organization to World Series titles in 1981 and 1988.

O’Malley sold the Dodgers to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp in March 1998, ending the family’s four-plus decade run with the franchise. Since selling the team, O’Malley helped save historic Dodgertown in March 2016 when it was on the verge of being shuttered a second time.

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