Jonathan Gilula, the Red Sox’ executive vice president of business affairs, was launching into his description of the new dugout for fans at Fenway Park when the first review arrived.
“Wow, you’re right here, huh?” William Evans said, taking a seat beside Gilula at eye level with the Fenway dirt.
The Boston police commissioner was at the park to discuss security changes his department will implement this year and to take a look at the offseason improvements the Red Sox made over the winter. Along with that Jim Beam dugout on the first base line, the ballpark added expanded protective netting, an additional row of seats in left field, a rebranded roof deck, and a revamped concessions menu.
Outside the stadium, Boston Police are tightening security on Landsdowne St., as well as at the intersection of Van Ness St. and Ipswich St. outside Gate B. The commissioner noted there are barriers in place to prevent a vehicle from driving into the crowd as fans arrive at Fenway.
“It’s sad that we have to worry about this,” Evans said. “Baseball has always been such a great event, a family friendly event, but it’s a new world and we really have to pay attention.”
Inside, the Red Sox have added a barrier of their own, extending the protective netting beyond the dugouts and into right and left field respectively. The net, which stands 12 feet, 8 inches above the warning track, is a “field green” color intended to blend into the backdrop. Red Sox CEO and President Sam Kennedy said that the team offered ticket holders impacted by the new netting the opportunity to relocate their seats, but only a handful took the Sox up on the offer.
Kennedy and Evans joined chairman Tom Werner for a taste of the new concession offerings, from “Jane Dough” cookie dough ice cream to crème brûlée French toast. The ice cream will be available in the grandstand behind home plate, while up in the right field deck the Budweiser logo has been replaced by a 74 foot-by-10-foot neon Sam Adams sign. The new “Sam Deck” features a bar and lounge serving up Boston Lager and beer-infused beef chili.
While the neon signs were switched and the menu was rearranged, Kennedy said there was one replacement the organization found impossible to make: David Ortiz.
“You can’t replace that force of a human being, forget the baseball player,” he said. “Just the person that he was in that clubhouse. So we’re moving forward. Dave Dombrowski and our baseball ops team did a great job of building this team to hopefully build on the success of a 93-win season. We’ll see how this year plays out.”
Dombrowski’s team, the new dugout, extended netting, and renovated right field deck will all be on display Thursday for the Red Sox’ home opener, as David Price takes the mound to face the Tampa Bay Rays at 2:05 p.m.