Team proposes .406 Club renovation

2/10/2005 - Boston Red Sox

BOSTON -- The Boston Red Sox have filed a proposal with the city to renovate the .406 Club behind home plate at Fenway Park to add more seating and more room for standing patrons.

The proposal would create two levels of club seating where one now exists. Seating capacity will expand from 606 to 816, while standing room will accommodate 200 more people.

"Our fans who sit in the .406 Club, as much as they love the conditions on a cold April day, feel while they have the best seats they are divorced from the game by not being part of the collective experience," said Janet Marie Smith, the team's vice president for planning and development.

Team executives have not yet determined whether they will keep the .406 Club name, which honors Ted Williams' batting average in 1941. He was the last major-league player to average more than .400 for the season.

The proposal to overhaul the .406 Club is the latest project to expand the capacity of the oldest and smallest park in the major leagues, since the current ownership group took control in 2002.

The Red Sox, who won their first World Series in 86 years last fall, recently received approval to add more than 2,000 seats or standing locations on the roofs extending above the left- and
right-field stands in time for the 2006 season. Those seats and the
overhaul of the .406 Club would expand the park's capacity from
36,298 to 38,815.

Red Sox ownership has indicated that their goal is to increase park capacity to nearly 40,000, even though they have not indicated any long-term plans to stay in the park, built in 1912 and
renovated in 1934.

"The interim steps taken from 2002 to 2006 are not to be construed as part of a "master plan" to renovate or redevelop
Fenway Park," the application said. "But rather are part of an
ongoing commitment to improve the fan experience and neighborhood presence while evaluating the long-term options for renovation and Fenway Park's ultimate future."

The proposal has the endorsement of Mayor Thomas M. Menino. "They're growing and growing and doing the right things on behalf of the ball club," he said.

The glassed-in .406 Club is part of a late addition to the park built in 1989 and blamed by some players for hindering their ability to hit home runs by altering wind patterns.

The changes are proposed under the city's zoning codes and other city agencies can comment until Feb. 22.