The Boston Red Sox today welcomed Mayor Thomas M. Menino and city officials to Fenway Park to review the "Year IX Improvements" at America's Most Beloved Ballpark, which celebrates its 98th anniversary this year. This annual rite of spring occurs before the opening of each baseball season to showcase the Red Sox and City of Boston's collaboration on Fenway Park.
"We are entering the last inning of improvements to Fenway Park, and this old ballpark has never looked better," said Red Sox President/CEO Larry Lucchino. "This American icon that once was cramped and congested now has more seats and spaces, wide open concourses, new and improved facilities and many more food and beverage options for our fans. Leading up to its 100th Anniversary in 2012, our focus has been always to improve and expand the physical structure without disturbing the warmth, charm and authenticity that surrounds this ballpark."
The 2010 Fenway Park Improvements were designed to improve internal circulation, ingress and egress, to expand concessions and bathroom facilities, and to insure the long-term structural viability of the ballpark. They include the following:
1. Left Field 1934 Seating Bowl Concrete Repair, Waterproofing and New Seats
The concrete in the Lower Left Field Seating Bowl, originally constructed in 1933-34, has been repaired and waterproofed. As part of this project, the Dugout Seats, Field Box Seats and Loge Box Seats have been replaced with new seats and now contain cup-holders. All Dugout Seats and Field Box Seats in these areas will also have cushioned seats. In the Left Field Grandstand area, the original blue wooden seats (only wooden seats left in Major League Baseball) have been 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. Additionally, a new row of Grandstand seats has been added to the back of Grandstand sections 29, 30, and 31. The removal of the asphalt poured on cracked or broken portions of the concrete to provide temporary fixes over decades resulted in the lowering of the central cross aisle between the Field Box Seats and the Loge Box Seats in the left field portions of the 1934 bowl by approximately 8 inches. This is consistent with work performed last year to the 1912 seating bowl and will provide fans sitting in the lower rows of the Loge Boxes with improved views of the playing field. The wheelchair and companion positions in the Loge Box were also improved this year and relocated from Section 31 to Section 32. The sight lines from the new positions were enhanced by creating elevated platforms and positioning the companion seats next to the wheelchair locations rather than in front of them. Several seats formerly placed in the lower aisle were removed for comfort and circulation.
All seats were refurbished and/or replaced by American Seating, the same company that has worked on the seats at Fenway Park since its inception in 1912. The concrete repair work was completed by NER Construction of Wilmington, MA, who also completed a similar scope of work during the 2007/2008 and 2008/2009 off-seasons in other areas of the ballpark.
2. New Restrooms and Concession Enhancements Behind Home Plate
In an effort to create additional space, improve circulation and enhance the fan experience, the concession stand behind Home Plate at the top of the Grandstand has been replaced by new expanded stands that offer a wider variety of food and beverage items. Also, seven original archways, first built in 1912 and bricked over for many years, were re-opened and restored, which will improve air circulation in that area of the ballpark.
The restrooms that previously resided in this location on the Grandstand concourse have been removed; and new, larger restrooms with additional fixtures for both men and women have been constructed on a Mezzanine area positioned above Gate D, and are accessible via a new staircase that connects to the top of Grandstand Section 19 (behind home plate). The new restrooms are more than double, in both size and number of fixtures, compared to the previously existing ones. Additionally, two new ADA accessible family restrooms have been added in an area adjacent to the new concession stands on the Grandstand concourse towards first base.
3. Lower Third Base Concourse Improvements
Several improvements and infrastructure upgrades have been completed in the Lower Third Base concourse. Most importantly, a new staircase has been constructed to provide improved access to/from the Gate A concourse and the Lower Third Base concourse. Enhancements have been made to the interiors of both the Visitor's Clubhouse and grounds crew areas, including new finishes and fixtures in the manager's office, locker room, and shower and grooming areas within the Visitor's Clubhouse. Additionally, the locker room, meeting room and grooming areas that serve the Red Sox Grounds Crew have been refurbished.
4. New Concession Areas and Several New Menu Items
In 2010, ARAMARK and the Red Sox will introduce several new menu enhancements that offer fans even more dining options. In addition to their classic Fenway favorites, fans will now find double cheeseburgers, grilled chicken bistro sandwiches, stromboli, and chicken parmesan and Italian meatball subs throughout the ballpark.
At the center of this year's food and beverage upgrades is an expanded and completely renovated concession area behind home plate, featuring a newly installed brick oven for cooking freshly made pizza (served whole and by the slice). The stand will offer many of the new items, including the chicken parmesan and Italian meatball subs, as well as Italian sausage sandwiches, Fenway Franks, hamburgers, chicken tenders & fries, and assorted snacks and desserts.
ARAMARK has also substantially expanded Fenway Park's vegetarian menu and added more options for fans with special dietary considerations. A new veggie burger, veggie dog, and spinach and mozzarella stromboli will join the lineup of existing vegetarian options like assorted salads, pizza, vegetarian burritos, hummus and fresh fruit cups. A growing list of gluten free items will include kettle corn, cookies, chips, and crackers. Fans looking for lighter fare will find assorted wraps along with deli and Panini sandwiches.
The selection of family-oriented combination value meals has also been expanded to include pizza & soda, chicken tenders & fries, burger & fries, and soup & a sandwich. Kid-friendly novelty items such as funnel cakes, slush puppy frozen drinks, and milkshakes have been added to the menu.
Additionally, along Yawkey Way, the Boston BBQ stand will now feature a new pulled BBQ beef sandwich served with fries, and chicken tenders.
All off-season projects were designed by D'Agostino Izzo & Quirk of Somerville, MA, and overseen by Ipswich Associates of Boston, MA.
Eight (and now Nine!) Years of Fenway Park Improvements
Fenway Park has undergone a series of annual improvements since the ownership group led by John Henry and Tom Werner purchased the team in February 2002. Most visible among them, for the fans, are the additions of the Dugout Seats and Yawkey Way Concourse in 2002; Green Monster Seats in 2003; the Right Field Roof Seats in 2004; the creation of the 3rd Base Concourse and the opening of 'Game On' in the space occupied by the former 'Players' Club and the old bowling alley in 2005; the EMC Club and State Street Pavilion in 2006; the Jordan's Third Base Deck in 2007; and an expansion of the State Street Pavilion seating with the addition of more than 800 new seats and the unveiling of the new Coca-Cola Corner in 2008. Another new addition in 2008 was 'The Bleacher Bar', a restaurant located under the center field bleachers that gives patrons a view of centerfield from a special two-way glass paneled retractable door that remains open year-round. The improvements in 2009 were highlighted by the Right Field Roof repair, expansion, and new seats; concrete repair and waterproofing of the original 1912 seating bowl and new seats; and repairs to the Jeano Building, including the replacement of its roof and restoration of the windows and doors.
It is anticipated that 2011 will be the final year of major, annual improvements to the ballpark, completing a ten-year cycle.