Red Sox announce improvements to Fenway
New seats, scoreboards among plans for offseason upgrades
BOSTON -- Although there is no postseason baseball activity at Fenway Park this year, to the dismay of Red Sox fans, there is still a great deal of activity at the old ballpark.
The Red Sox announced Year X Fenway Park improvements on Tuesday. This year is scheduled to be the final installment of the 10-year project to upgrade Fenway.
"We have the oldest, smallest and, we like to say, the most beloved ballpark in America," said Larry Lucchino, Red Sox president/CEO. "But that presents a unique set of challenges, and part of what we've been doing over the past 10 years is expanding the park in ways that do no harm to Fenway's look and feel and ambiance. So, it is a challenge. We say each year that Fenway is the little engine that could. It keeps going and going and going, and generating revenue. And each year, we try to find ways to generate some new revenue. But it's the fan avidity of this team that really makes it go, and their love of Fenway Park."
This year's improvements include three new high-definition video display and scoring systems to replace the existing scoreboards. The Red Sox selected ANC Sports to install three new state-of-the-art Mitsubishi Electric Diamond Vision™ light emitting diode (LED) video screens.
Additional work being planned for this offseason includes the concrete repair, waterproofing and seat replacements of the right-field lower seating bowl originally constructed in 1933-34. This will mark the completion of the repair and waterproofing of the entire lower seating bowl, a project started with the bleachers in 2007 and continued with the original 1912 bowl in 2008 and the 1933-34 left-field seating bowl in 2009.
Existing dugout, field box and loge box seats will be replaced by new seats with cup holders on a new concrete base. Dugout and field box seats will also be padded. As in previous years, grandstand seats in right field will be refurbished and fitted with self-rising mechanisms that enable the seat to retract automatically once a patron stands up. This will allow for more room in the seating rows and improved mobility for fans entering or exiting the rows.
Other projects underway include new and expanded concession and merchandise stands in the Gate D area and a repaired and upgraded ground-level concourse stretching from Gate D to Gate C that will include utility upgrades, new concrete concourse flooring and life-safety improvements.
The upgrades this year are estimated at $40 million, bringing the total to approximately $285 million in upgrades over the 10 years.
The changes should be noticeable as soon as a fan enters Fenway for the first time next season.
"I think the first thing people will see might be the new entrance at Gate D, as they're coming in there," Lucchino said. "It's ramped for accessibility and it's going to be a new ground-floor concourse. Then they'll see new food possibilities right there at Gate D. And then when they come into the ballpark they'll see video boards, high-definition video boards, unlike the small, old, standard definition boards that we've had in the past. I think that will hit people as they immediately walk in."
The improvements over the past nine seasons have impacted the team both on and off the field.
"I think we've had a track record and a credibility here of making the right improvements to Fenway," said Sam Kennedy, Red Sox executive vice president/CEO.
"We've been able to create more space, more seats, more information. We've been able to make Fenway warmer, more hospitable. And we really want to create a family atmosphere here because that's what baseball's all about. For those of us who grew up here in Boston, the thought of going to a Red Sox game anywhere other than Fenway is not an option. And it's not an option for New England Sports Ventures [the parent company of the Red Sox]. I think today is a loud statement that we've honored that commitment to preserve and protect Fenway.
"Ultimately, when the team isn't performing as well, we still have a ballpark that people want to come to not just for baseball games. But we had some soccer games here. We had some ice hockey this year. We came up with a few new tickets and we have 250,000 people a year that come through Fenway just to take tours of the ballpark. So these improvements have helped in that regard, as well."
The Red Sox are also considering widening the bullpens. The bullpens are currently approximately 21 feet wide. Major League Baseball recommends a width of 27 feet. Because Fenway Park is designated as a historic landmark, the Red Sox must receive permission from the City of Boston Landmarks Commission and the Massachusetts Historic Commission before this change can be made. The proposal to widen the bullpens is on the Landmarks Commission's agenda for Oct. 26.
NESV recently completed the purchase of the Liverpool Football Club. Kennedy assured Red Sox fans that transaction will not affect the baseball team.
"I think it's important to recognize the Red Sox are one business unit, if you will, of New England Sports Ventures," Kennedy said. "NESV also owns NESN, Roush Fenway Racing, and Fenway Sports Group. Four companies. Liverpool's the fifth company. It's a stand-alone business. It operates on its own. So I think that there's lots of global companies that make investments in different businesses. We just happen to share common ownership with NESN, and Roush Fenway, and Liverpool. But I think today is actually a pretty strong example of how focused we are on the Red Sox and Fenway."
All off-season improvements were designed by D'Agostino Izzo & Quirk of Somerville, Mass., and overseen by Ipswich Associates of Boston, who will serve as the program manager. The concrete repair work will be completed by NER Construction of Wilmington, Mass. The general contractor for the off-season projects will be Walsh Brothers of Boston.
Other sports facilities where ANC Sports has installed Mitsubishi Electric High Definition video display systems include AT&T Park in San Francisco, Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Turner Field in Atlanta, U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, and Yankee Stadium in New York.
Highlights of previous off-season improvements include:
2002: New dugout seats; Yawkey Way concourse.
2003: Green Monster seats; Big Concourse; expanded dugout seats; new Green Monster manual scoreboard.
2004: Right-field roof deck; third base concourse.
2005: First-base deck; 'Game On' restaurant; new playing field.
2006: EMC Club; State Street pavilion level; renovated private suites; distributed sound system.
2007: Steiner third base deck; renovated private suites.
2008: Expansion of seating on State Street Pavilion level, Coca-Cola Corner; concrete repair and waterproofing of bleachers and new seats; 'The Bleacher Bar'.
2009: Right-field roof box expansion; concrete repair and waterproofing of the original 1912 seating bowl and new seats; repairs to the Jeano building, including the replacement of its roof and restoration of the windows and doors; new front row seats.
Maureen Mullen is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.