Fenway Park may be the oldest baseball stadium in the major leagues, but it’s not living in the past.
On a cold, rainy Tuesday morning, Red Sox officials gathered to unveil a host of new improvements made at the friendly confines ahead of the team’s home opener Thursday.
Among the changes are interactive enhancements to the Kids Concourse, making Fenway “a great place to bring the family for a baseball game this spring,” team president and CEO Sam Kennedy said at a news conference.
The concourse now has a pitching cage that allows fans to test the speed of their throws, and murals depicting the heights of former stars such as David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia. Later in the season, it will feature an augmented reality photo booth that lets fans snap pictures with images of their favorite players, officials said.
“That’s huge,” Kennedy said at the press conference. “I was a kid who grew up here in Boston. [While] going to games I would have loved to experience that.”
Kennedy acknowledged that Fenway Park no longer sells tickets at the same rate it did between 2003 and 2011, when the Red Sox won two World Series. As such, the stadium is trying to attract the next generation of baseball fans by selling tickets to children and students for $9 this season, he said.
“We really want to get that word out,” Kennedy said. “It creates buzz, energy, life in this park when we have younger fans here.”
Visitors of all ages will be able to enjoy a new array of culinary options at the ballpark through concessionaire Aramark. The additions include crab cake sandwiches, chicken cheese steaks, New England burgers, steak and cheeses, assorted mini desserts like cheesecake and caramel stroopwafel, falafel gyros, chopped cheeses, gluten free pizza, helmet nachos, cheddar and caramel popcorn, and crispy avocado fries.
“The food is always a little bit of a highlight,” Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said after touring the park.
Fenway Park is also installing energy-efficient field lighting to improve the experience of fans and players during night games.
“The new LED system offers superior brightness and clarity and improved uniformity of lighting on the playing field,” officials said in a press release. “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.”
That’s not all that’s changing. During the tour, Kennedy and chief operating officer Jonathan Gilula discussed new rule changes meant to accommodate fans who want “a quicker game played with better pace” and “more action such as stolen base attempts, doubles, triples, and great defensive plays,” according to a sign inside the stadium.
“Pitchers now have 15 seconds with empty bases and 20 seconds with runner(s) on base to deliver their pitch,” according to the press release. “The pitch clock debuted during Spring Training and helped speed up the pace of game by 26 minutes compared to 2022 Spring Training games.”
Larger bases have been also installed, making the distance between them slightly shorter.
The Red Sox can also look forward to an enhanced clubhouse with custom-made maple lockers, multi-colored and energy-efficient lights and 16 new television displays with a state-of-the-art sound system, officials said.
Wu said she was looking forward to seeing Boston come alive as the Red Sox swing back into action.
“I’m glad the rain came today so we’re absorbing it all before Thursday,” Wu said. “This ballpark represents both the historic treasure that we have known and loved in Boston for so long, but also the most modern and updated version for fans and for players.”
Katie Mogg can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on twitter @j0urnalistkatie