Lucchino: Sellout streak coming to end
Red Sox have sold out every game at Fenway since May 2003
BOSTON -- On a day reserved for Boston mayor Thomas Menino to take his annual tour around Fenway Park in advance of Monday's home opener, Red Sox president/chief executive officer Larry Lucchino and Menino talked proudly of the preservation of Fenway Park, the 102-year-old ballpark with a once-cloudy future.
Lucchino also addressed the likely ending of the Red Sox's sellout streak, which began May 15, 2003, and has since become the longest regular-season sellout streak in Major League history.
"Opening Day should be 794," Lucchino said. "What happens after that is uncertain. What I am certain of is that the streak will probably end in April, in the first or second series."
The sellout streak is nice. But there have been more important accomplishments in Lucchino's eyes.
"We're proud of it, but we're ready to move on," Lucchino said. "I think the preservation of Fenway Park is a big success. I think the championship in 2004 and the repeat in 2007 have to go to the top of the list in terms of successes.
"I think the fact that the fans supported the team with such numbers, with such consistency, I would certainly put that on the list. What we've been able to do in the community, with over $50 million of donations in 10 years, is something we put on our list as well."
Menino's tour on Friday morning was one of the simplest over the past few years.
There weren't any brand new video scoreboards to unveil, no sparkly new seats atop a wall to show off -- the major renovations at Fenway have been completed, putting a lid on a 10-year process that helped seal Fenway Park as a piece of Boston's future, not just its past.
"This ownership, it's all their own money," Menino said. "I love that. Some other people wanted to build a ballpark and it was about my money. No, no. These guys said it was with their money and they did their own thing.
"I tell them the story about the [Green] Monster seats. Larry, John [Henry] and Tom [Werner] came one day about putting Monster seats on the left-field wall [introduced in 2003]. I'm a preservationist. I said,' Are you guys are crazy? We have to preserve this ballpark. But just because you're the new guys in town, I'll let you do it for a couple of years. No one is going to want to sit up there.'
"See how smart I was? One of the most popular seats in the ballpark. It hasn't ruined the aesthetics of the ballpark at all. It's enhanced the ballpark, actually."
In 2008, USA Today ranked Row 1, Seat 12 on the Green Monster as the best seat in the Major Leagues.
"We've completed 10 years of major changes," Lucchino said. "What we're doing now is fine-tuning minor adjustments."
There are 24 new televisions scattered around the park, a thinner net behind home plate to allow for cleaner vision and extended displays on the LED scoreboards. But most of this year's changes were made to the private sections of Fenway, typically reserved for group seating. Lucchino said the park supports groups of up to 200.
Menino, who has said he won't run for office again, said he hopes to come back to Fenway often after his term is completed. He had one last request.
"As I leave office, we're going to have a rolling rally in November with the Red Sox as world champions," the 70-year-old mayor said. "I've had 10 world champions in my career as mayor. And most of all, I want to finish them off with the Red Sox winning a World Series.
"I want to ride in one of those duck boats. I've never ridden in one."