'Conigliaro's Corner' addition part of Fenway changes
BOSTON -- A doughnut shop advertisement behind the outfield bleachers proclaims "Welcome to Fenway" in Japanese, anticipating new Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka and the fans and media expected to arrive with him.
But they won't be the only newcomers in the Boston ballpark this season.
The Red Sox have added a new bleacher section on the roof deck in right field with 200 seats that will be sold for $25 apiece. They're calling it "Conigliaro's Corner" to honor Tony Conigliaro, a promising outfielder whose career was derailed after he was hit in the face by a pitch in 1967.
The new seats, marketed specifically for families, are part of an annual offseason renovation that in previous years included the addition of seats above the Green Monster and a batting cage off the Red Sox dugout. This year's project included a batting cage for visiting teams, new standing room behind the third-base grandstand and a locker room for ushers and concession staff.
About half of the luxury suites have been completely redone, and ramps and stairways have been reconfigured to make it easier for fans, and especially disabled ones, to move around the oldest and smallest ballpark in the major leagues.
Other changes include:
• A bleacher grill that will open during the season.
• A new boardroom on the luxury suite level.
• The first-ever women's bathroom on the third-base concourse.
• Cupholders for field box seats.
Structural improvements such as added sprinklers and electrical upgrades won't be visible to fans but will allow the Red Sox to increase the legal capacity to 38,805 -- 1,151 more than last year and about 2,500 more than the capacity before renovations began under the current owners.
Much of the added capacity will be for standing room. But more than 16,000 extra tickets will be available this season in "Conigliaro's Corner."
Tickets for the temporary metal bleachers, which resemble those from a high school football field, can be purchased in advance starting Thursday. But fans will get their actual tickets on the way into the ballpark, to keep them from scalpers.
Starting in May, the section will be reserved for the team's Red Sox Nation members on Saturdays and Red Sox Kid Nation members on Sundays.
"Some last-minute planning has allowed us to accommodate more kids and families in 2007," Red Sox president Larry Lucchino said.
"Our partnership realizes that the demand for Red Sox tickets has made it more challenging for regular fans and families to secure tickets. This gesture, albeit a modest one, provides a direct route to Fenway Park for these people."
The Red Sox have sold out 307 consecutive games and they have already sold 2,626,983 tickets for 2007 -- the highest number ever sold before Opening Day, and enough to guarantee the sixth-highest final season total in franchise history.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press