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Lucchino: Fenway will stand for decades

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  February 19, 2011 12:41 PM

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FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox have finished 10 years of improvements to Fenway Park, spending $285 million to renovate, improve and in some areas rebuild the old ballpark.

Team president Larry Lucchino said the major projects are done. Engineers have told the ownership group that the structure has 40-50 years of life remaining.

In other words, if you're waiting for a new ballpark you're going to be waiting for a long time. "There is nothing in the plans," Lucchino said.

In other news from the owners:

• John Henry is not buying the idea that the Yankees are underdogs. "The teams are evenly matched," he said.

• Chairman Tom Werner pointed out that the Red Sox have 16 former All-Stars on their roster. "We're tremendously excited to actually start playing games," he said.

• Lucchino said the team had payroll flexibility to make in-season trades if any were needed.

• Werner said the ownership group would like to bring their soccer team, Liverpool, to Fenway Park sometime in 2012. The Red Sox also are open to the idea of playing in England at some point.

• Henry said the idea that the Red Sox spent money this winter to prove they still had a commitment to the Red Sox in the wake of the Liverpool purchase was incorrect. He pointed out that the Red Sox have had the second-highest payroll in baseball since his group took control.

• Henry claimed to have no idea when Theo Epstein's contract was up. He said he is very pleased with how everything is going and that Epstein has communicated similar sentiments to him. There have been no talks regarding an extension.

"I think the important thing is that we’re all extremely happy working together," Henry said.

Details of Epstein's contract are hard to come by. But it is generally believed he signed a three-year deal in 2008, meaning he is due for an extension. Update, 4:32 p.m.: Epstein's contract, according to a source, runs through the end of 2012.

• Lucchino expressed his support for Terry Francona. "His track record speaks for itself. He's done an excellent job since he's been here," he said. "He doesn't need a special endorsement from us. It's nice to have the continuity that we have."

• The players gave the owners a standing ovation when they rose to speak to the group this morning. Carl Crawford, who had not met them before, sought out the trio afterward to extend his personal appreciation.

"It was fun to meet them and they were great. We had a good talk," Crawford said.

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