FORT MYERS, Fla. — There is an expiration date on Fenway Park, Red Sox principal owner John Henry said on Wednesday. But it won’t come due for another 30 years or so.
The oldest ballpark in the majors is structurally sound and the only improvements left to make would be to renovate the press box and other areas in the upper section behind home plate.
“You won’t see major changes. Those, I think, have been explored, thought about and accomplished,” Henry said. “Structurally there is an expiration date. Someone at some point in decades ahead will have to address the possibility of a new ballpark.”
Henry, who purchased the Red Sox before the 2002 season, said it’s an “ever-changing challenge and incredibly difficult” to compete against the other teams in baseball.
“For us to win a fourth championship would be the cornerstones of the careers of everyone involved here and have been involved in these three,” he said. “Already there’s a sense here that 2013 was 2013. … We’ve already turned the page. Winning a fourth one, in our minds, is going to be just as difficult as winning the first one was.”
Henry said in 2012 that he was against the idea of giving long-term contracts to free agents. That came in the wake of the Red Sox trading away the disastrous contract given to Carl Crawford.
The Red Sox remain a high-revenue franchise, but Henry has not abandoned that ideal.
“I think we learned from that and a few other clubs have learned from it,” he said. “All we have to do is take a look at the results over the last 10 years of what that kind of approach has meant. It’s a very, very risky thing to do. I don’t see us necessarily changing. … I don’t see us going back to where we were.”
Henry does not necessarily regard the $189 million luxury tax threshold as a ceiling for the Red Sox, however.
“It has been,” he said. “There’s some reason to believe it may not be as important as we thought a couple of years ago. We feel at that level, we’re at the top or near the top [of payroll].”
Under the terms of baseball’s latest collective bargaining agreement, teams under the threshold were eligible for significant rebates in revenue-sharing payments. But Henry said he questioned at the time how beneficial that was and that his projections were accurate.
“There were certain incentives built into the season that at the time I doubted they would really carry the day and that appears to be the case. They probably won’t,” he said.
With the restrictions on spending in the amateur draft and for international free agents, big-spending teams teams like the Red Sox have lost some of the advantages they once enjoyed.
“It has gotten harder to spend your money in ways that we normally were doing,” Henry said. “We spent a lot of money in the amateur draft and got tremendous results from that. It’s an issue we’ve talked a lot about. It is more difficult.”
Henry offered no thoughts on who he thinks will replace commissioner Bud Selig once he retires.
“He will be extraordinarily difficult to replace,” Henry said. “Extraordinarily difficult. That process is underway but it will be extraordinarily difficult.”
He also was “glad to hear” that Jon Lester wanted to stay with the Sox, but said general manager Ben Cherington should be asked about contract issues.