SBD/March 25, 2013/Franchises

Red Sox' Henry Discusses Sale Rumors, Fenway Renovations In Q&A

Henry says he believes Fenway Park has at least 30 or 40 years ahead of it
Red Sox Owner John Henry, in an e-mail Q&A with Steve Buckley of the BOSTON HERALD, “touched on a variety of subjects, from renovations to Fenway Park to ongoing rumors about the sale of the team.” Below are excerpts from their discussion:

Q: Over the past couple of seasons, [President & CEO] Larry Lucchino has taken the lion’s share of criticism from fans and media. Why is that? Has Lucchino been literally taking one for the team?
Henry: If you want to take a stab at being fair about it, all you have to do is look at his record here over the last 11 years. And look at his record before that. He revolutionized the game with Camden Yards. ... There is this perception that Larry is focused on revenue -- that the three of us are. It’s one perception that is true. And there is good reason for it. Any major league club that doesn’t do everything it can to intelligently generate revenue, isn’t doing everything possible to generate a payroll that can be successful over the long term. ... When he retires someday, his body of work will require an election to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

Q: Have the Red Sox reached a ceiling in terms of major renovations at Fenway Park? If not, in what areas could renovations be made?
Henry: We have completed our major renovations for the foreseeable future. ... We have of late completed more modest fan and player improvements such as the Royal Rooters Club, the new Champions Club for large group outings, clubhouse plunge pools for rehab, concession expansions, sound system improvements, more distributed televisions, more information on LED boards etc.

Q: How many more years do you believe the park has left?
Henry: The architects and engineers tell us Fenway Park will be viable and usable in its present form for at least 30 to 40 more years, with regular maintenance and care, of course.

Q: You have repeatedly stated that the Red Sox are not for sale. But let’s turn the question around: Not counting casual conversations that you, [Chair] Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino have had with would-be owners, has a group approached you with a serious offer to buy the team? That is, one that raised eyebrows?
Henry: I’ve not had one partner in 11 years suggest thinking about selling the Red Sox, even though they haven’t received dividends.

Q: You keep saying that owning a British soccer team has in no way diverted your attention from the Red Sox. Upon reflection, are there steps you could have taken to remove that perception from the dialogue?
Henry: Yes, probably. The short answer is that if Larry was working on [EPL club] Liverpool, it would divert his attention because he runs the Red Sox day-to-day full time (BOSTON HERALD, 3/24).

APATHY NATION?
 In Boston, Michael Silverman wrote the Red Sox “evoke indifference more than anything else right now.” The fan base “remains skeptical.” There is “nothing the Red Sox can do, really, aside from winning games to draw them back” (BOSTON HERALD, 3/24). Also in Boston, Dan Shaughnessy wrote, "The theme of the spring of 2013 has been, ‘We may still stink, but we have a bunch of really swell guys.’” These are “the Redemption Sox.” They are “all about forgiveness.” Management “finally recognizes that fans don’t like being insulted.” The Sox are “back in the ‘yes business,’” and they “want your love again” (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/24).

BEANTOWN BLING
: SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL’s Don Muret reports the Red Sox “have signed a multiyear deal” with Rhode Island-based jeweler Alex and Ani as sponsor for The Champions Club. The club, formerly known as the Players Club, is “situated behind the right-field seats in an area known as the Big Concourse.” It is “one floor below the Royal Rooters Club, a members-only lounge that opened last year” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 3/25 issue).
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