04/05/2006 12:52 PM ET
Red Sox present year 5 Fenway Park improvements
BOSTON -- On Opening Day 2006, the Red Sox will unveil the fifth in a series of annual improvements designed to expand, and bring more comfort to fans in, the 94-year-old ballpark.
From new staircases and wider sidewalks to Dunkin' Donuts coffee stands and freshly popped Kettle Korn, fans of all ages can benefit from the latest changes to "America's Most Beloved Ballpark."
The most dramatic visible change will be the new open air seating areas that were previously behind glass in the .406 Club (and prior to that name, the 600 Club).
Hurling a painted baseball made of steel on October 14, 2005, Dave Hixson of Hudson, MA, an EMC employee and card-carrying citizen of Red Sox Nation, shattered the glass and started perhaps the most ambitious series of off-season improvements in the history of Fenway Park.
With the massive glass structure (and single seating tier) eliminated, the Red Sox have created two separate seating areas and two enclosed lounges within the space previously occupied by the .406 Club and Hall of Fame Club.
The new EMC Club resides on the lower level, and the Home Plate Club is above, part of the new State Street Pavilion, which includes Pavilion Club seats, Pavilion Box seats, and dedicated standing room areas. More than simply space to stand, these dedicated standing room positions offer full frontal views of the field with a "drink rail" on which to set one's food and beverages.
Other important improvements designed to enhance the fans' experience and making their debut this year include:
1. More Space, Wider Concourses, Better Views, and Reduced Crowding
A) New staircase near Gate D
A new stair near Gate D, on the corner of Yawkey Way and Van Ness Street, will provide fans with more convenient access to/from the street, Grandstand seats, Suite Level, and the new State Street Pavilion. Designed to reduce crowding, these stairs, on the exterior of the ballpark, allow ingress and egress without using the ramps and concourses.
At the intermediate landing of the Gate D Stair, the First Base Deck has been expanded to provide connections to the existing Gate D ramp and elevators and the upper levels of the stair.
B) Expanded Concourses
The construction of the new State Street Pavilion has vastly increased space on the pre-existing 30 year old roof.
WIDER CONCOURSES: The usable roof area has increased in width from six feet at the most narrow point to an average width of 25 feet.
CITY VIEWS: Fans now have fresh, inspiring views of the Fenway neighborhood and other areas of Boston from the open concourses.
MORE FOOD, SHORTER CONCESSION LINES: The new State Street Pavilion will feature eight concession stands with a wide variety of menu items (compared to the old Roof Box concourse which had three small concession stands).
MORE LADIES ROOMS, MORE MEN'S ROOMS: The State Street Pavilion also has two new men's restrooms and two new women's restrooms that more than double the number of fixtures previously on the Roof Box concourse.
NEW TVs: To help fans keep track of the game on the concourses, Fenway Park has eight flat screen televisions for State Street Pavilion patrons.
2. New Distributed Sound System throughout the Ballpark
The large, centralized speaker cluster housed behind the centerfield wall since the start of the 2003 season will be replaced by a state-of-the-art distributed sound system. A total of 488 individual speakers will be strategically located throughout all seating levels of the ballpark, including the concourses, to provide a greatly enhanced level of sound quality and coverage that is consistent with newly constructed sports facilities.
3. New Party and Function Facilities
The new EMC Club Lounge and Home Plate Lounge have been designed for year round use. Offering spectacular views of both the playing field and Yawkey Way, and equipped with state-of-the-art audio/visual systems, these two new lounge facilities serve as venues for meetings and events, large or small.
In addition, a renovated Players Club in the Big Concourse is now available for pre-game and non-game day outings and special events.
4. Expanded Brookline Avenue Sidewalk
In a collaborative effort with the City of Boston to improve safety and pedestrian circulation, the Red Sox widened the sidewalk on Brookline Avenue between Yawkey Way and Lansdowne Street by six feet. The city added new street lamps, with traditional acorn fixtures.
5. Internal Infrastructure and Safety Enhancements
Although not as visible or glamorous, improvements behind the scenes are designed to enhance safety and comfort for fans as well. The club invested in a new electrical substation, replaced and reorganized the cabling infrastructure, added a sprinkler system, and expanded the reach of the public address system throughout the concourses.
6. New Concessions
Continuing their efforts to increase the menu items available to fans, the Red Sox and ARAMARK have made several additions in 2006.
Two Dunkin Donuts stands (one in the Big Concourse and one in the Third Base Concourse) will debut on Opening Day and will offer both hot and iced coffee products.
Freshly popped Kettle Korn is the nominee for rookie food item of the year for kids.
Hot panini grilled sandwiches make their Fenway debut as well.
New onion rings will also now be available.
Patrons of the new State Street Pavilion will enjoy special menu items, including such New England specialties as clam rolls and lobster rolls.