02/25/10 4:45 PM EST
Red Sox unveil plans for new spring home
State-of-the-art facility opening in 2012 will have Fenway feel
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
Those who have wondered what it would be like to sit in a quainter type of Fenway Park will find out in two years. The new complex, which the club has billed as state of the art, will have a decided Fenway feel to it.
Yes, there will be a Green Monster, which will be topped by Monster Seats. The quirky outfield dimensions of Fenway will be the exact same in the Southwest Florida replica.
"I think it will be cool," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "I think it'll be exciting as it starts to get going. From everything I've heard from talking to guys [in the organization], it will be a really cool facility and kind of state of the art at the same time, which will be welcome."
Even though they are replicating Fenway to a degree, the Red Sox will still have a goal of having their fans feel like they are in Southwest Florida when they attend Spring Training games.
"The goal is to make it Fenway-esque, to bring certain playing elements -- because that's something unique about Fenway and something enduring about Fenway -- but also because that's a nice way for our players to get ready for the season, by playing in Fenway dimensions and Fenway quirkiness," said Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino.
"So I think it'll have a lot of that, but they are determined to give it a Florida feel, for sure, in the design. We're all working on this project. [Owner] John [W. Henry] in particular has taken a key role in the design of this ballpark. So has [chairman] Tom [Werner], so has [executive vice president/business affairs] Jonathan Gilula from our office. So we're actively involved and working with the county, but it is a facility that they will own, and will be used year-round. So they've taken the lead in it."
The stadium -- which will be a few miles down the road from the club's current complex -- will hold roughly 11,000 fans, including standing room and berm seats. The lease the Red Sox signed with Lee County -- their Spring Training destination since 1993 -- is for 30 years from when the new stadium opens.
"This is an incredibly exciting step in bringing Fenway Park South to Southwest Florida," said Gilula. "These preliminary renderings are the result of a tremendous effort on behalf of so many people. It is a reflection of a pledge to replicate many of Fenway's iconic elements while also creating a facility that respected and reflected the local environment.
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"We greatly appreciate the dedication of Lee County leadership and staff, and look forward to continuing to work with them and their world-class design team as we move forward and the project to be evaluated and refined."
One clear advantage of the new facility is that there will be six practice fields at the same venue as the stadium. The Red Sox currently spend the first couple of weeks of Spring Training at the Minor League development complex before moving to City of Palms Park for the start of the Grapefruit League games.
"I think people will be very pleased with the quality of the unified facility," Lucchino said.
Much like Yawkey Way in Boston, the street on the south end of the park will be an extension of the club's concourse, creating more space and entertainment for the fans.
"The design team has responded to both Lee County and the Red Sox with a concept that is true to our area," said Jim Lavender, Lee County's director of public works. "The fans and visitors to Southwest Florida are in for a great baseball experience."
The location -- on Daniels Parkway, approximately two miles east of Interstate 75 and six miles from Southwest International Airport -- figures to be far more convenient, and closer to restaurants and shops.
The home clubhouse will be roughly 50,000 square feet.
"I've been coming here since 2000, so it will be strange to be somewhere else," said Red Sox reliever Manny Delcarmen. "But it will be really cool. The fans are really going to enjoy it and I'm sure there will be a packed house every time we play."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.