In a surprising bit of news, Janet Marie Smith has left the Orioles to accept a job as the Los Angeles Dodgers' Senior Vice President of Planning and Development. Dodgers president Stan Kasten made the announcement today.
In her new role, Smith will oversee upgrades and enhancements to Dodger Stadium, according to a press release issued by the club.
Smith rejoined the Orioles as Vice President of Planning and Development in September 2009. Her responsibilities included overseeing the renovations at the Ed Smith Stadium complex in Sarasota as well as the upgrades and enhancements at Camden Yards.
Smith had worked for the Orioles from 1989-1994 as VP of Planning and Development during the design and construction of Camden Yards, and Hall of Famer Frank Robinson singled her out this summer during his speech following the unveiling of his statue in the picnic area.
Orioles Managing Partner Peter Angelos issued the following statement regarding Smith's departure:
"The Orioles greatly appreciate Janet Marie Smith's efforts over the past three years, as she has overseen the construction of our widely lauded ballpark in Sarasota and many significant enhancements to Oriole Park at Camden Yards. In Sarasota, the goal was to create a ballpark that the local community and all of our fans would be proud to visit, and after two record-setting springs, this has clearly been achieved.
"At Oriole Park, we asked Janet Marie to enhance the fan experience, honor our history, and revitalize some areas of the ballpark with new, more contemporary concepts. And in this 20th anniversary season, those objectives have resulted in bringing our fans the Roof Deck, Dempsey's and the Orioles Legends sculptures.
"Janet Marie was the perfect choice to oversee these projects, and we wish her the best of luck in her new role with the Dodgers."
Smith will join the Dodgers immediately.
"Dodger Stadium is one of the most iconic venues in sports and Janet Marie is one of the few people I would trust with its future," Kasten said. "She respects baseball's tradition and knows how to retain a ballpark's distinctive charms while providing fans with the amenities and comfort they've come to expect. Any fan that has walked through the gates at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the renovated Fenway Park or Atlanta's Turner Field has been a beneficiary of her understanding of what a ballpark means to its community. Every new baseball stadium built since 1992 has been influenced by what she helped build at Camden Yards. And we thank Orioles owner Peter Angelos for allowing Janet Marie to join us."
"I'm looking forward to working with the new Dodgers ownership to find ways to create an even better fan experience," said Smith. "Dodger Stadium is a treasured piece of the Los Angeles community and a special place where I watched more than a dozen games per season when I lived in L.A. during the early 1980s. It's important to all of us that we restore and enhance the park in a way that honors its heritage and highlights its distinctive appeals, while still capturing what fans want and franchises need in a modern venue."
Smith holds a master's degree in urban planning from City College of New York and a bachelor of architecture degree from Mississippi State University.