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Red Sox to seek Fenway Park facelift

The Red Sox today will unveil plans for improvements at Fenway Park, including a new restaurant, additional seating, and renovations meant to enhance fans' enjoyment inside and outside the park.

Today, team officials will detail plans to widen the third-base concourse, widen the narrow lane above the first-base grandstand seats, and add concession stands, a food court, and a restaurant on the site of a former bowling alley on Lansdowne Street, city officials said.

The team is also looking to add 1,000 seats to the historic ballpark, the smallest in Major League Baseball. Owners want to add four rows of roof boxes along the first- and third-base lines. That change would take effect in 2006.

"As we begin to prepare for our defense of the World Championship in 2005, we will again put considerable energy and money into improving Fenway Park and the fans' experience," said Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino in a written statement. "We remain committed to making additional and substantial improvements to the ballpark that now boasts 145 consecutive sellouts."

The team is looking to import the park experience to Lansdowne Street. Trees will be planted, street lights installed, and sidewalks widened by nearly 3 feet, city officials said. The new sidewalks are designed to accommodate outdoor cafes, city officials said.

The street and sidewalk improvements will cost more than $1 million, with the Red Sox and other area business owners picking up most of the tab, according to city Public Works Commissioner Joseph Casazza. The city will contribute about $100,000 for lights and trees, he said. The city may also remove parking meters on one side of Lansdowne Street, officials said. The new restaurant is to be constructed in a building on Lansdowne Street that formerly housed Ryan Family Amusements.

The team is expected today to detail significant renovations of the clubhouse, the batting cages, and the tunnel between the clubhouse and the field, officials said. The park is getting a new field with a drainage system designed to reduce flooding and rain delays.

A training facility is to be built on the current site of the players parking lot on the corner of Yawkey Way and Van Ness Street. Team officials said it will offer players "state of the art medical and rehabilitation facilities" and new weight training equipment.

Above the training area -- which will be expanded from 600 square feet to 8,000 square feet -- will be a second floor with a view of the park, where fans can watch the game while picking up refreshments, according to city councilors who reviewed the team's plans two weeks ago in City Hall.

Team officials met with councilors and Boston Redevelopment Authority staffers earlier this month to review the team's short and long-range plans.

The New York Times Co., parent corporation of the Globe, owns 17 percent of the Red Sox.

Team officials told councilors they are also looking for ways to add more seats into the existing cramped space, city officials said. Besides adding roof boxes along the first- and third-base lines, officials also talked about possibly adding seats in the right-field roof table area, city officials said.

"They talked about whether to expand the right field restaurant or put regular seating up there," said city councilor Michael Ross, who represents the Fenway neighborhood. "Their plans for me are exactly what I hoped for -- renovating Fenway Park. It's what the community has asked for."

Yesterday, officials released 2005 ticket prices, which will rise an average of 7 percent. A loge box seat will now cost $80, up from $70, and a front row Green Monster seat will cost $120 for a high-demand game.

The increased revenue, the team said, will go toward players' salaries. "We are aggressive in defense of our World Series title," Lucchino said in his statement.

Owners have discussed other potential improvements, including removing the glass from the .406 Club, the enclosed suites behind home plate, but no decision has been made.

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