Opening day for the Boston Red Sox is just two days away, and the team gave the public a look at some of this year's offseason improvements at a press conference on Tuesday morning.
Mayor Michelle Wu and MassMutual's Jennifer Halloran joined Red Sox President and CEO Sam Kennedy, Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Gilula for the event touring the ballpark and previewing some of the improvements made to the ballpark ahead of Thursday's home opener.
The Red Sox are coming off a last place finish in the AL East in 2022. They lost shortstop Xander Bogaerts and slugger J.D. Martinez to free agency in the offseason, and infielder Trevor Story had elbow surgery. Boston did make some significant additions, though, adding closer Kenley Jansen, infielder Justin Turner and outfielder Masataka Yoshida. Perhaps most importantly, the Red Sox kept Rafael Devers, signing the third baseman to a massive deal. That was a big move for a fan base still smarting from the losses of Mookie Betts and Bogaerts in recent years.
New food offerings
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Fenway Park concessionaire Aramark will debut several new gameday offerings for the 2023 season including crabcake sandwiches, avocado fries, and gluten-free cheese pizza made with a cauliflower crust. A New England maple bacon burger featuring a fresh beef patty with maple bacon, caramelized onion, and Vermont cheddar cheese served on a brioche bun will be a new featured item available on the Truly Terrace and at concession stands behind home plate.
Classic ballpark favorites such as steak and cheese and grande nachos in a baseball helmet will now be available at concessions stands throughout the ballpark.
Expansion of AI checkout technology
Fenway Park will expand its Artificial Intelligence self-checkout offering that debuted last season in the Truly Terrace to other areas of the ballpark this season. A self-checkout, grab-and-go kiosk has been added in the concourse behind Home Plate and two new units that allow for contactless beverage checkout are now available on the State Street Pavilion Level and in the Big Concourse. Four self-dispensing popcorn machines with AI self-checkout capabilities are also available in the Big Concourse and in the left field State Street Pavilion Level.
Revamped Red Sox player locker room
As part of an ongoing effort to enhance the facilities in the Red Sox clubhouse and centered around feedback from players and coaching staff, the Red Sox locker rooms have been remodeled and reengineered for the 2023 season. The refurbished player locker room space features new, custom maple lockers with closeable doors and generously sized to accommodate more storage space for personal belongings. The lockers feature built-in, multi-color LED lighting with power and USB charging stations and a lockable safe for valuables. The entire locker room has been outfitted with a new LED lighting system, premium sound system, and 16 state-of-the-art television displays overhead that offer 360-degree views from the lockers. The space also has a newly furnished seating area for pre- and post-game use.
Throughout the renovated space, new energy efficient LED lighting with automated controls were added and custom storage units for game bats and player apparel have been outfitted in the space. A new, on-site laundry service area with commercial washers and dryers have also been installed for player uniform laundering. Throughout the clubhouse, images of the 2004, 2007, 2013, and 2018 World Series Championships along with new artwork, signage and graphics have been integrated into the space.
Coaches room enhancements, new women's locker room, tunnel refresh
In addition to the player locker room, a new, expanded Coaches Locker Room has also been created with new custom maple lockers, workstations, television screens, food and beverage center, and a private restroom and showering area. A newly constructed Women’s Locker Room has also been added with a private restroom and shower area as well as custom lockers, workstations, televisions, and food and beverage center.
The tunnel from the Red Sox Clubhouse that leads to the dugout received several enhancements including new LED light fixtures and graphics depicting Championship banners.
LED field lighting
A new, energy-efficient LED field lighting system has been installed this offseason in the Fenway Park light towers that will provide better visibility for players and fans during night games. The installation of LED lighting is another step in the ongoing effort to make Fenway Park a more sustainable venue. The previous field lighting system was originally installed in 1982 and consisted of metal halide light fixtures. The new LED system offers superior brightness and clarity and improved uniformity of lighting on the playing field. The LED lighting system offers a 10- to 20-time longer product life than the previous lighting and is more eco-friendly with its energy conservation and CO2 emission reduction.
New pitch clocks, larger bases
In accordance with Major League Baseball’s new rules for the 2023 season, five clocks will be in place at Fenway Park: two on the field wall behind home plate, one affixed to the main videoboard, one on the light tower in center field, and one high above home plate directly beneath the Dell Technologies level. Pitchers now have 15 seconds with empty bases and 20 seconds with runner(s) on base to deliver their pitch. The pitch clock debuted during Spring Training and helped speed up the pace of game by 26 minutes compared to 2022 Spring Training games.
Additionally, bigger, 18-inch bases have also been installed in the infield decreasing the distance between bases by 4.5 inches from first base to second base and second base to third base.
Kids Concourse enhancements
The Kids Concourse, presented by L.L.Bean, received several updates to elevate family fun this season, including the installation of a new pitching cage that will allow fans to test the speed of their pitch and the addition of a giant Rubik’s Cube portrait to be installed in game. The “How do you measure up?” murals portraying the height of players like Hall of Famer David Ortiz and Red Sox Hall of Famer Dustin Pedroia have expanded to include silhouettes of Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez and current Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale, third baseman Rafael Devers, and outfielder Masataka Yoshida. New elements that will debut later this spring include an augmented reality photo booth that allows you to take a photo with your favorite Red Sox player as well as an improved 360 camera booth. Located in Right Field inside Gate B, the Kids Concourse continues to feature the popular virtual reality Home Run Challenge, presented by Altec Lansing, and various opportunities for kids and families to “touch the game” with game-used gloves, balls, and other items that fans can interact with.
MassMutual, a signature partner of the Boston Red Sox, is now featured prominently in centerfield with an iconic 80-foot-long long by 10-foot-high sign above the main videoboard. The letters of the interactive sign can change color in recognition of special celebrations throughout the season. The five dots that are part of MassMutual’s logo will keep track of balls and strikes during games. MassMutual will also have signage featured throughout the ballpark, including fixed signage on the center pad behind home plate, in the Red Sox interview room, and on a patch affixed to the sleeve of Red Sox player jerseys. A cornerstone of the 10-year partnership between the two organizations includes the collaboration between the Red Sox Foundation and the MassMutual Foundation on the expansion of the Fenway Park Learning Lab, a program piloted in 2022 that is being expanded this season. The program will provide sixth grade Boston Public Schools students with an immersive, in-person learning experience at Fenway Park that combines their classroom-based math, science, language arts, and history lessons with a fun and engaging, co-designed learning experience throughout the ballpark.
Assisted listening device technology
A new ADA compliant assisted listening device technology called the Listen EVERYWHERE app is a new feature at Fenway Park this season allowing fans to conveniently stream game audio directly to any compatible mobile phone or tablet in real time using Bluetooth technology while connected to Fenway Park Wifi. Directions to downloading the Listen EVERYWHERE app on a personal device are available in the Fan Services section of the MLB Ballpark app. Fans can also visit Fan Services booths at Gate B and E to pick up an assisted listening device for their use during the game.