The Boston Red Sox are planning a 100th birthday party for Fenway Park in 2012, beginning with a tour to get ideas from fans and ending with a gala celebration.
Larry Lucchino, the team’s chief executive, said he initially wondered if celebrating the stadium was too self- congratulatory, and if the Red Sox should focus on the present. Fans and employees convinced him the ballpark, the oldest in Major League Baseball, needed recognition.
“We want to make it a big megillah,” Lucchino, 64, said in an interview yesterday. “We think 100 years is a big deal. There aren’t many facilities in American life that have celebrated 100 years.”
Deciding what form that celebration should take has led team executives on a five-state listening tour. Sam Kennedy, the team’s chief operating officer, said Fenway functions as a de facto franchise museum, with 200,000 tourists visiting annually from around the world. The team is discussing new logos, activities for fans, and hosting galas.
It’s also planning restoration work after the baseball season, and may add as many as 200 seats and some standing room.
“We’ll likely be done with all the major projects after this coming offseason,” Kennedy said. “So I think it’s a great chance to highlight this American icon.”
Lucchino said the current ownership, which bought the team in 2002, never really considered replacing Fenway, one element separating the group from others trying to buy the team at the time. He knew the difficulties of building a stadium from his work on San Diego’s Petco Park and Baltimore’s Camden Yards.
“We believed that Fenway could be renovated and we knew how hard it was to do a new ballpark,” he said. “Maybe because we had fresh eyes.”
He said Fenway helps make the Red Sox unique, and marking its centennial will be fun.
“We constantly refer to Fenway Park as the little engine that could,” Lucchino said. “It’s not massive. It’s not a state-of-the-art, new facility. But it is an engine that keeps chugging up hill, and generating revenue and generating revenue and enabling us to be different and competitive.”