Exchange of Land
After the Japan tour, O’Malley made a side trip to Italy before returning to the United States. O’Malley studied the Colosseum in Rome, which took 12 years to build and was completed in 82 A.D. The Colosseum seated an estimated 50,000 to 80,000 and remained the largest “stadium” until the Yale Bowl at New Haven was built for football in 1914 to accommodate 80,000 spectators.
While O’Malley examined his remaining options in New York, he pondered the landscape in Los Angeles. In a letter to Dodger stockholder James Mulvey on Jan. 8, 1957, O’Malley described a Thomas Brothers map book of Los Angeles County and the areas of Elysian Park and Chavez Ravine.
“On page 44 of the booklet just to the right of the center on the top you will find Chavez Ravine Road,” wrote O’Malley. “This particular map shows the freeways more clearly. There are about 400 acres of sandy hills and underdeveloped land in this area behind the Police Barracks. … I wish you would drive out to this location at your convenience and study it. This happens to be the only spot adjacent to one freeway but within a short distance of the intersections of the remaining highway. … When you return to New York, we will have some interesting observations to compare …”O’Malley letter to James Mulvey, January 8, 1957
In February 1957, O’Malley purchased the Chicago Cubs’ minor league franchise, the Los Angeles Angels, along with their home ballpark, Wrigley Field. O’Malley secured the territorial rights to the Los Angeles market and had a home if the team was unsuccessful building a new stadium in Brooklyn.
Negotiations with New York City officials eventually fizzled and Los Angeles agreed in September to exchange 300 acres of land in Chavez Ravine to the Dodgers in return for the Dodgers’ commitment to build a 50,000-seat stadium. The Dodgers also exchanged the deed to Wrigley Field to the city and agreed to pay a property tax estimated at $345,000. The contract also included a commitment from the city to spend $2 million on grading for the area and $2.74 million from the county for the construction of access roads.