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Wednesday, January 29
Updated: March 13, 4:00 PM ET
City of Boston to give final approval on seats soon

Associated Press

BOSTON -- They won't provide the best view in Fenway Park. Far from it. Yet the 280 new seats planned atop the Green Monster should be very popular.

Fans will even have a chance to catch home run balls that used to drop into the screen above the left-field wall.

The Boston Red Sox have little reason to believe fans think the seats, expected to be ready for the home opener April 11, will deface one of baseball's most recognizable sights, team president Larry Lucchino said Wednesday.

"We've gotten nothing but positive feedback. Lots of people are eager to sit up there,'' he said. "I think they're going to be some of the coolest seats in baseball.''

Fans in the first row will have to stand to see the base of the left-field wall and fans in the other two rows -- plus a standing-room row behind the new seats -- will be able to see even less of the territory in left field.

"They're meant to be for fun,'' said architect Janet Marie Smith, the team's vice president for planning and development.

She said past proposals for changes in Fenway Park, baseball's oldest and smallest stadium, have included seats above the 37-foot high wall. And e-mail and telephone calls from the public have supported the idea of tinkering with the Green Monster.

"It made us feel like it wasn't nearly as sacred as perhaps we ourselves had approached it initially,'' Smith said. "With only fewer than 300 seats up there, it's hardly a gesture toward changing the capacity or the ambiance.

"It's about giving fans a chance to sit on top of one of the most revered monuments in all of major league sports.''

Tickets for the seats -- bar-style stools with counter tops in front of them -- will have a face value of $50, but Lucchino said many will be sold to groups, which get a discount that would bring the range of prices to $40-$50.

The Red Sox are expected to get final approval for the project from the city of Boston in two weeks, Smith said. Meanwhile, they obtained early permits Tuesday from the city's Inspectional Services Department to prepare the site by removing the net and building a foundation.

One reason for the project is to increase ticket revenue in a stadium with a capacity of only 34,892, Lucchino said.

That capacity will not change, since the new seats and standing-room area will replace the same number of standing-room spaces from last season.

"There is a direct correlation between revenue and success,'' Lucchino said.

The Red Sox also unveiled other changes, which Lucchino characterized as "improvements'' rather than "renovation.''

Starting in April, the club will focus on the larger issue of long-term renovations of the stadium built in 1912, a study expected to take six-to-12 months. Team owner John Henry said the question of renovations as opposed to building a new stadium hasn't been decided, although his first choice is a "major renovation of Fenway.''

Other improvements for the coming season include expanding the concourse beneath the bleachers, adding a picnic area behind the right-field seats and increasing the number of concession stands and bathrooms.

The team also will add a scoreboard above the stands in left-center field to give information about pitchers and hitters and will restore a scoreboard showing National League scores, after a 27-year absence, next to the one showing American League scores at the base of the Green Monster.

"The old National League board that was up for many years on the wall in left field has been taken out of mothballs in South Dakota where it was being kept and will be affixed to the wall this year,'' Lucchino said.

Smith said the improvements are intended to be permanent in case the club decides to undertake a major renovation rather than building a new stadium.

Improvements such as the seats above the Green Monster.

"There'll be plenty of fans up there with gloves,'' Smith said.

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