As usual, the Boston Red Sox were one of the busiest teams in the offseason when it comes to ballpark improvements and new food offerings. But you really only need to know one thing to know where the BoSox are headed at Fenway Park: lobster seems to be this year’s featured item.
First, let’s run down the ballpark improvements announced by Red Sox management last week. They cover all aspects of the ballpark, ranging from player facilities to fan experiences.
The depth of both the Home and Visitor’s dugouts has been increased by moving the front rail of the dugouts forward three feet, providing for better circulation, improved sight lines from bench seating areas, and additional space for storage of bats and helmets.
The field wall between the dugouts has been moved forward the same three feet to align with the dugout expansion, allowing for the addition of a new row of seats in the area from home plate to each dugout, and additional rows of seating behind the camera pits on the first and third base side, which also moved forward. A total of 124 new seats have been added as part of this project. The new, relocated field wall houses new TVs and a built-in antennae systems for cellular service and the ballpark’s Wi-Fi network.
As part of the dugout expansion project, the Red Sox batting cage area behind the Red Sox dugout has been refreshed and equipped with enhanced lighting, televisions, a training area and an improved netting system.
Several rows in the back of the right-field grandstand were removed this offseason to accommodate the construction of a new bar area — the “Tully Tavern,” in partnership with Tullamore D.E.W. Irish whiskey. Terraces with swivel stools and tables and standing room spaces feature charging stations and 64 inch televisions. The full-service bar also offers Fenway Franks and other concession items to an area that was previously far removed from convenient food and beverage options. Seats in the new gathering space range from $35 dollars for Tier 5 games to $75 for Tier 1 games.
New Day-of-Game Suites
Four new day-of-game suites have been constructed on the State Street Pavilion level of the ballpark — two on the first base side adjacent to the existing “B Suites,” and two on the third base side adjacent to the existing “K Suites.” The new party suites, which offer great views of both the playing field and the Boston sky line, can be used as individual spaces for 12 people or combined to create single, expanded suites accommodating 24. Each space includes indoor and outdoor televisions and premium food service.
Right Field Terrace Videoboard
A new videoboard in right field, installed by ANC, has replaced the Cumberland Farms sign that previously occupied that space. The new 16mm Mitsubishi Diamond Vision LED display measures 14′ high by 46′ wide and will provide improved access to game information, replays, and video content.
“With our main videoboards located in center field, it was often challenging for those sitting in certain seating areas like the bleacher sections and Green Monster seats to comfortably view the content displayed on those screens,” said Red Sox Executive Vice President Jonathan Gilula. “The addition of the new videoboard in right field will change the in-game experience for many of our fans by providing direct views of video content and game information.”
Removable Field Wall in Front of Bullpens
A new removable field wall system has been installed in front of the bullpens, in the same location and with the same dimensions, to better accommodate non-baseball events at Fenway Park, such as college football games.
Virtual Reality Batting Cage
The club will expand the virtual reality station in the Kids Concourse by introducing a VR batting cage experience where fans can feel what it’s like to take swings against Major League players at Fenway Park. The club first introduced VR during the 2016 season with the Virtual Dugout station that shows behind-the-scenes, 360-degree videos with players. The VR Dugout will return in 2017 with new content.
Expanded Rooftop Space
A rooftop area adjacent to “Fenway Farms,” the club’s rooftop garden that debuted in 2013, has been developed as the private “Strega Deck” event space, in partnership with the North End Restaurant. The Strega Deck offers 5,600 square feet of roof space, outfitted with more than 600 square feet of urban garden planters that help supply vegetables and herbs to Fenway Park restaurants and concession stands. The new open-air deck features outdoor televisions and a state-of-the-art sound system, and can accommodate groups of up to 200 people for pre-game functions and non-game events. Menu offerings for this party area will feature meatballs, spinach arancini, and other creative bites inspired by the Strega restaurant group.
Pesky Pole Refurbished
The Right Field Foul Pole, “Pesky Pole,” underwent extensive structural repairs this offseason to reinforce areas that were impacted by general wear and tear over the years.
Dell EMC Club
To reflect the recent merger of the two companies, the premium club space located on the third floor of the ballpark will now be called the Dell EMC Club (formerly EMC Club), and the entire level has been renamed the Dell Technologies Level (formerly EMC Level).
New Concession Offerings
Aramark, Fenway Park’s concessionaire, will feature new and locally inspired items to the Fenway Park concession menu in 2017. Regina Pizzeria is now the official pizzeria of the Boston Red Sox and will be serving their famous pizza at the ballpark, and Strega’s new creation, a baseball-inspired meatball-in-a-bread-cone, will be available at pizza stands throughout the concourses.
The Lobster Poutine (shown at the top of this page) is a take on traditional Canadian poutine, which has grown in popularity in the United States in recent years. Instead of regular French fries and brown gravy, the Fenway Park Lobster Poutine will feature steak fries and fresh lobster smothered in bisque and topped with chives.
Yankee Lobster, the popular seafood restaurant in the Seaport neighborhood of Boston, will showcase their signature New England lobster rolls, a Lobster melt (like a tuna melt, only with lobster; shown above) and other new lobster-themed offerings at the Fish Shack on Yawkey Way, and at seasonal locations throughout the ballpark. Fans can also try new signature items on Yawkey Way from Savenor’s Market, Fenway Park’s official butcher and meat supplier. The Cambridge-based company will offer a short-rib grilled cheese sandwich and will also feature turkey and steak tip sandwiches at other Savenor’s locations throughout the ballpark.
Fenway Park’s Big Concourse will feature several new items this season. The area now includes a new build-your-own-salad and fruit bar in the lower level featuring select produce from Fenway Farms, and new kids meals will be served in the Kids Concourse area in Wally and Tessie commemorative brown lunch bags. The kids meals offer a choice of a mini kids hot dog, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or a grilled cheese, and are served with chips and a mini water.
Aramark will continue its test kitchen concept by introducing monthly rotating items at a stand in the Big Concourse located across from the Champions Club. Featured items for the month of April include lobster melts with steamed lobster, melted Muenster cheese, and sliced tomatoes (mentioned above); or surf & turf kebabs with skewered shrimp and/or marinated steak tips.
Fans with a sweet tooth will have more dessert options to choose from in 2017. In addition to the popular Hood soft serve ice cream locations throughout the ballpark, the newly added “Cookies n’ Creamery” stands will be located at gates A and C offering ice cream sundaes, creamsicles, ice cream sandwiches, hard ice cream and freshly baked warm cookies.
The popular Tasty Burger restaurant added a third location at Fenway Park in the Right Field Concourse to complement existing stands at the 3rd Base Deck and at Gate C. And to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Impossible Dream team, Aramark will feature five different souvenir cups throughout the season celebrating memorable moments from that special year for fans to collect throughout 2017.
Images courtesy Aramark.