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Sox adding premium seats

Ballpark upgrade to include new area called the Pavilion

The Boston Red Sox next week will disclose details of Fenway Park improvements planned for the next two seasons, including the addition in 2006 of a new category of premium seats in an area that will be called the Pavilion.

Larry Lucchino, president of the world champion Red Sox, said yesterday the new premium seats will be added in the area of the .406 Club, behind home plate.

''They're new seats up on what we're naming the Pavilion," Lucchino said. ''That would be upgraded seats, appealing to people because they will be lower and closer than most ballparks in America that offer what is loosely called a club seat."

The creation of a Pavilion and addition of some higher-priced seats are part of a series of improvements, many less visible, planned for the aging ballpark over the next two years.

Lucchino would not describe the location of the new seats, nor say exactly how many are planned. He said most but not all of the new seats to be added in 2006 will be premium seats.

The Red Sox are working with the city and seeking approval for plans for improvements to be made this year and next.

The Red Sox have previously asked the city to approve expanding the total capacity of Fenway Park from the current 36,298 to 39,928, a 10 percent increase. That request is pending.

Those numbers include both seats and standing-room space. Lucchino said the team's management still has a goal of a total of between 37,000 and 38,000 actual seats for fans.

In the 1940s, before concessions and operations ate up space within Fenway's hallowed walls, as many as 45,000 fans jammed inside for big games.

Only a handful of new seats are expected to be added for the current season.

''We will continue the process of annual improvements in '05," Lucchino said, though many will not be noticeable. Next week's announcement will give details on scheduled improvements in the clubhouse, concession, and restaurant areas, and the ''back of the house" space, reserved for Red Sox players and staff.

Some season ticket holders may be moved to make way for the new Pavilion section. They will be given the opportunity to relocate, Lucchino said. There are existing roof seats on either side of the .406 Club.

Lucchino first mentioned the new category of seats planned for the 2006 season at a Wednesday night speech to the Greater Boston Real Estate Board. Though offering no definite figure, he said there would be ''a good number" of the new premium seats.

In December, Janet Marie Smith, the Red Sox's vice president for planning and development, said team executives were considering creating a hall of fame or museum at Fenway Park. No specific plans or timetable are expected on that soon.

But Red Sox management is taking steps both to increase revenue and improve the fans' experience at Fenway Park, the smallest facility in Major League Baseball.

''Our purpose has been to give Fenway Park long-term life," Smith said in December.

Lucchino, who speaks frequently to audiences and these days almost always packs the gleaming World Series trophy along with him, said people consistently indicate they would prefer maintaining and upgrading Fenway Park to a new ballpark.

Thomas C. Palmer Jr. can be reached at tpalmer@globe.com.

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