What’s in store for the decades ahead?
In many ways, the future of Fenway Park lies in its past.
With the major renovation work now complete, club officials are embarking on a less extensive, though still vital, effort to more overtly commemorate the club’s past and turn the ballpark into a living museum.
The largest single portion of that initiative lies with the new Royal Rooters Club and Nation’s Archives at the ballpark. The 6,000-square-foot club within Fenway Park, named after an early 20th century Boston Red Sox fan club, will be aimed at the team’s longest-tenured season-ticket holders and will feature many rare pieces of club memorabilia.
Among the items on display will be the stolen base from Dave Roberts in 2004 that helped spark the club’s historic comeback in the American League Championship Series against New York, and an old injury X-ray from franchise icon Ted Williams.
The Royal Rooters area will not be available to all fans on game days, but will be a key spot on a ballpark tour business that already is among the best in baseball, drawing more than 250,000 visitors per year.
The Red Sox are producing a new tour book, telling the history of Fenway Park in more detail, that will be sold as part of the tours. That book will be separate from a massive, seven-pound coffee table tome, “Fenway Park: 100 Years,” produced earlier this year by the club and MLB that is now in its second printing.
Elsewhere in the ballpark, the same history-first theories apply as the club continues an effort initiated last season around the concourses to install showcases for trophies, pennants and other memorabilia.
The Red Sox are also incorporating new ballpark-related technology such as digital ticketing and evaluating amenities such as mobile food ordering. Following the 2010 season, the team installed three new, high-definition video boards. But in each instance, the moves were performed more gently than in many other team markets.
“We’re keeping our finger on the pulse of what’s happening around the industry, and are evaluating the further use of technology here,” said Jonathan Gilula, Red Sox executive vice president of business affairs. “But the main thing is to preserve and celebrate the fan experience as it is now.”
History aside, will Fenway be able to stick around for another 100 years?
With a decade of renovations now complete amounting to $285 million worth of work, team President and Chief Executive Larry Lucchino said Fenway easily has at least another four to five decades of life in it.
Said Gilula: “There’s now a real mixture of ages of materials around the ballpark, of course, but the building is structurally sound. You can’t add capacity without a corresponding increase to the underlying infrastructure. So as we’ve added seats and new areas over the years, we’ve done a lot to the supporting structure that the fans don’t see.”