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Fenway going away?

Red Sox unveil plans for new ballpark to open in 2003

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Posted: Saturday May 15, 1999 09:10 PM

  The new Fenway Park, would include about 100 luxury boxes, and at least 5,000 premium club seats. AP

BOSTON (AP) -- Fenway Park, the oldest and smallest ballpark in the country, may soon be replaced.

The Boston Red Sox unveiled a plan Saturday to replace the historic park in 2003 with a similar but roomier ballpark across the street.

The proposed stadium would have about 35 percent more space and 11,000 more seats, officials said.

As part of the estimated $550 million project, most of the 87-year-old Fenway Park -- including the Green Monster wall in left field -- would be preserved and turned into a public park adjoining the new stadium.

John Harrington, the team's chief executive officer, said at a news conference at Fenway that the proposed stadium would improve facilities for players and fans.

"I know what the Red Sox mean to the people of New England, and I know Fenway Park is part of that," Harrington said.

But he insisted the move was necessary because the current park is crumbling and the team needs the facilities -- and revenue -- expected to accompany the upgrade. The new stadium would accommodate one million more spectators a year.

Other improvements at the proposed stadium, which officials said would also be called Fenway Park, would include about 100 luxury boxes, at least 5,000 premium club seats, upgraded concession areas, wider seats and bigger aisles.

The field dimensions would remain virtually the same.

Current estimates place the cost of the ballpark around $350 million, with more than $200 million in additional costs that include building new parking garages, preserving the old Fenway and acquiring the plot of land now covered with warehouses.

Officials said the team has not completed a plan to finance the park. Funding will involve negotiations between the team, the city and the state, said Boston Redevelopment Authority Director Thomas O'Brien.

"We're at a very, very early stage," O'Brien cautioned. "But I think all the parties -- residents, the team, state officials and others -- see this as an opportunity for us to sit at one table and see if we can work out a plan that offers an improvement over what exists today."

"If they could preserve the tradition of Fenway that would be fantastic," Red Sox slugger Nomar Garciaparra said Saturday in Toronto. "I just hope they do it right."

Not all the Red Sox players agree to preserve the tradition-rich park.

"It's about time they did it," said pitcher Pedro Martinez. "It's like an old man who passes away; you have to let go. Everything has to go at some point."

With 33,871 seats, Fenway Park is the smallest stadium in the major leagues. It is also the oldest, having opened on April 20, 1912.

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