02/11/11 5:40 PM EST
Fenway improvement plan almost complete
By Evan Drellich / MLB.com
Construction crews and towering cranes were hard at work Friday morning at Fenway, the snow on the field no concern as Opening Day approaches. A decade ago, Red Sox ownership pledged to improve the ballpark via major upgrades every offseason, and now in the last year of that plan, the vision is nearly realized.
"It's been a long road, but we're very proud of the culmination of that process, which will result in a ballpark that will be here for future generations to enjoy," said Red Sox executive vice president for business affairs Jonathan Gilula. "New seats, new amenities, new infrastructure has been installed to allow for the long-term stability and preservation of the ballpark."
Dubbed "Year X Improvements," the projects have totaled $285 million, making it the largest investment into Fenway Park in its 99 years.
The most dramatic of this offseason's improvements was still under way as Gilula toured media through the stadium. A towering crane lifted display panels in center field, where the largest of three state-of-the-art Mitsubishi Electric Diamond Vision video screens is being installed.
That behemoth, measuring about 38 feet by 100 feet, will be joined by two more Diamond Vision displays on either side of the diamond, the one in left-center also 100-feet wide but shorter, the one in right 30-feet wide.
In Fenway's innards, too, hard hats were aplenty as drills and saws were going left and right. At Gate D, there are new concession and merchandise stands. The range of projects undertaken this offseason is wide -- waterproofing in the right-field lower seating bowl, which was originally built in 1933-34. That's the last step in the waterproofing project, which began with the bleachers in 2007 and has continued since.
There's new seats and cupholders in the dugout, field box and loge box seating areas, with padding on the former two. Grandstand seats in right have also been refurbished.
It has taken double and sometimes triple the effort to get it all done -- especially in a winter that's seen a tremendous amount of snow poured on the Northeast -- but after 10 years, it's all to be finished on time.
"We're on schedule," Gilula said. "Obviously, Mother Nature has created some issues for us. We roll with it. What's not negotiable is the end date -- we have to be done by Opening Day. ... We have three shifts going on right now in certain areas. That's how we adjust."