08/18/2003 3:50 PM ET
Boston mayor: Fenway should stay
Menino likes improvements made to stadium
BOSTON -- You know you've done something amazing when you've made a politician admit a mistake and change his mind. That's what the current Red Sox ownership has accomplished with the latest renovation of Fenway Park.
By Mike Petraglia / Special to MLB.com
At Monday's ribbon-cutting ceremony for "The Big Concourse" in the right-field area, Boston mayor Thomas Menino said he now believes there is no immediate need for the club to actively pursue a new home in his city.
"I don't see a need for a new ballpark at this time," said Menino, who pressed city leaders and officials to look at finding a viable new location for the Red Sox following the January 2002 sale of the club to the ownership group led by John Henry.
But after seeing the numerous improvements to the facility, including new seats above the Green Monster in left field at the start of this season, Menino had a change of heart.
"We all make our mistakes," admitted the Mayor on Monday. "It's time to move on and look at what can be done to make this ballpark a great landmark in the city of Boston. We have visionary ownership and we have a great architect. Everyone is working together to maintain this old baseball park as a shrine to the past."
The admission by Menino, however, doesn't mean the team isn't still looking at all future options, including a new park, as they try to make the 91-year-old landmark feasible for a big league operation.
"These guys have great creativity and imagination. We've got a lot of the amenities of a new ballpark right here. I think the investment that the Red Sox are making in the old ballpark really improves the ability to stay here."
-- Boston mayor Thomas Menino
"It's nice to hear those words about the hard work so many people in our organization have put forth, but we have no specific plans yet, one way or the other," said Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino. "Our focus is to make our current home as comfortable as possible for the most passionate fans in baseball while still discussing other options internally."
With cramped and limited seating at the oldest standing baseball structure in the Majors, a new park was suggested as a way to raise revenue for a group which had just spent $700 million to purchase the Red Sox, along with 12 acres of Fenway property and the New England Sports Network.
"It's time to look at the future and this ownership has convinced us that this ballpark can survive in the future," said Menino.
Janet Marie Smith, Vice President of Planning and Development for the Red Sox, has overseen the makeover of Fenway. Like Lucchino, she appreciates the compliments from the city's highest-ranking official, but says the latest improvements are designed primarily to make the baseball facility more fan-friendly.
"It's wonderful to have a chance to test these [remodeling] ideas because in many ways we are looking to prove to ourselves and our fans that Fenway could be saved," said Smith. "We don't have a plan to go one way or the other, but ideas like ["Big Concourse"] help reinforce our belief that we can keep the park."
"These guys have great creativity and imagination," said Menino. "We've got a lot of the amenities of a new ballpark right here. I think the investment that the Red Sox are making in the old ballpark really improves the ability to stay here. The new [Green Monster] seats, the new concourse, the new accommodations for the fans -- it's all apart of a plan the new ownership has to stay right here at Fenway Park."
Mike Petraglia is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.