The most successful 10-year period in the history of the Red Sox franchise has included two world championships, a 631-game sellout streak that is still alive and a global brand expansion that has placed the red "B" on the heads of fans worldwide.
Given all that, what makes team executives as proud as anything are the steady improvements made to Fenway Park during a $285 million renovation plan scheduled for completion before the 2011 season, an undertaking that ultimately saved the park in the face of demands for a new one.
President/CEO Larry Lucchino on Tuesday revealed the plans for Year X Fenway Park Improvements, which will cap a bold renovation that began in 2002 and will ensure that the park remains the home of the Red Sox for "the next 30 to 40 years."
The "cherry on top," according to Lucchino, will be the installation of three new High Definition video boards over the bleacher seats and the Green Monster, the largest of which in straightaway center will measure 38 feet high and 100 feet wide.
"They are spectacular," Lucchino said. "They will change the experience for the better, to be sure, in this ballpark. There will be more video, more information, large canvasses upon which we will be able to paint and supply information to our fans."
ANC Sports will undertake the installation of the three state-of-the-art Mitsubishi LED screens. Included in the capabilities will be expanded real-time information, such as batter and pitcher matchups, and pitch speed and type.
The existing Bank of America hitters and pitchers board above the center field side of the Green Monster will receive an LED screen measuring 17 feet high and 100 feet wide. The third, placed over the right field portion of the bleachers, will measure 16 feet by 30 feet and provide additional information on the runners on base, defensive alignments and more.
It is the featured addition to a series of upgrades planned for the offseason, and one Lucchino said was a long time coming.
"This is something our fans have been crying out for for some time," he said.
Jerry Cifarelli, President and CEO of ANC Sports, which has provided such signage and scoreboards for 15 other teams in Major League Baseball and dozens more across the professional sports landscape, said that the boards will provide the statistical information that fans at home are often the only ones privy to.
"What you see in those monitors in your home you will see here, in HD," Cifarelli said.
The screens are always clear in sunny conditions, offering the same vibrant images currently seen in Yankee Stadium's massive center field scoreboard, for example.
The 10-year Fenway Park renovation, designed to save and improve the nearly 99-year-old ballpark, began in 2002 with the installation of new seats surrounding the dugouts and the establishment of the Yawkey Way Concourse.
Green Monster seats were added as part of a series of improvements in 2003 and the right field roof deck came the following year, along with an expansion of the concourse down the third-base line.
The first-and third-base upper decks, the "Game On" Restaurant, the EMC Club, the State Street Pavilion and a new playing surface came in the next three years, followed by work in 2008 and 2009 that included — among other things – the beginning of the improvements to the seats in the original seating bowl.
That last activity will be completed this offseason with new seats, waterproofing and concrete repair for the remaining portions of the right field lower seating bowl. The bleachers and left field portions of the park, as well as the original 1912 bowl, underwent this process between 2007-09.
At Fenway on Tuesday, several sections down the line in right were stripped of their seats in preparation for this work.
The other improvements planned for 2011 include:
• New concession and merchandise stands at Gate D, as well as a ticket booth and improvements to the entrance and the pedestrian ramps which rise above it. All gates will now have will call booths available to patrons.
• A repaired and upgraded ground level concourse running from Gate D to Gate C behind the center field bleachers.
• New seats with cup holders on a new concrete base for existing dugout, field box and loge box seats.
• Self-rising seats in the grandstand seats in right field, which will allow for seats to retract when a patron stands.
Lucchino stressed that while the 10-year plan is slated for completion before Opening Day, small improvements will continue to be made as the park approaches and then passes its 100-year anniversary in 2012.
Many improvements are imperative, given the age of the park. Yet each time one is made and bells and whistles such as the three new video boards are added in, the sense of excitement builds that the oldest park in America is prepared for future generations.
"Opening Day will be a little like Christmas morning," Lucchino said. "When our fans come here they will see lots of new things."
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