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July 12, 1999

John Harrington

Jim Healey

Allan H. "Bud" Selig


JIM HEALEY: Good afternoon, I'd like to welcome everybody to Fenway Park. My name is Jim Healey. I'm Vice-president of the Red Sox, and project manager for the new ballpark project. I'd like to start off by introducing our participants today, John Harrington, Red Sox Chief Executive Officer and Bud Selig, Commissioner of Major League Baseball. John will speak first, and then Bud, and we'll open it up for questions.

JOHN HARRINGTON: Thank you, Jim. Welcome to all of you to Boston and to our beautiful Fenway Park, a little biased in that. We have a special reason for meeting today, we want to present to you our plans and the model for our new Fenway Park. As most of you know, we've had an extensive outreach program for the past two months, really, since mid-May, where we've been visiting with many constituents around New England and briefing them on our plans for the new ballpark. I know Fenway is loved all around the country, and it's particularly loved here in Boston, and we were very carefully deliberate in designing a new Fenway Park with the kind of amenities that we thought our fans deserved but preserving all the good parts about Fenway. So I'm hoping over the course of the next half hour we can get you excited about telling your fans about our plans for a new Fenway Park. We owe a great debt to Camden Yards. They were the first of the new classic ballparks. Camden came up -- the Camden people came up and spent a considerable amount of time with us, but when you go down to Camden you realize what they have. They have all the modern convenience in an old-fashioned, classic, open-air, urban ballpark. And we hope to present the same here to our fans in the city. We have tried to preserve the intimacy of Fenway, which everyone talks about. Camden has captured that intimacy, and their fans love it. The Boston Globe ran a very moving piece several months ago, about our good friend Larry Lucchino. Larry is out in San Diego designing a new ballpark out there. But Larry was the inspiration behind the Camden Yards. And Larry conceived that when he was here in Boston, he had an extensive stay in the hospital here in Boston and he would visit Fenway Park. It's hard to believe a lawyer type could design a new ballpark that everyone could love, but we know Larry, he's a multifaceted man, trying to get a smile out of Bud. They did a great job down there. Now, Camden inspired many other teams to move forward on new classic ballparks, such as the Jake and and the Coors Field and they've done a remarkably good job there. And most of those new ballparks have experienced situations where millions of additional fans have come into their ballparks. Now, we're embracing what they're doing in many ways, and we all realize that we needed an additional million fans in our ballpark to remain competitive. But actually in Fenway, which is the smallest and oldest ballpark in use, we have the demand for seats here in June, July and August, and so we can't satisfy the demand that our customers present to us in the summer months, here. So we have to expand and move on. I've learned from the experience of other teams, but I'm finding it very difficult to let go of Fenway Park, and Bud knows what we mean by that. And we're all in the baseball environment, very historically oriented. We know tradition means a great deal to us, and we don't let go of what we have in our hand. I've worked here at Fenway most of my adult life, and it's not easy moving forward into a new ballpark. We studied renovation for many, many years and we spent actually $80 million on this ballpark from 1981 through early 1990. And we know what renovations can do for this ballpark. And we're really maxed out on the renovations that you can do on this ballpark. We've had great architects studying the possibility of renovating the park. HOK, the premiere architects and renowned restoration and Walsh Brothers looked at it and we simply determined based on their recommendations that you cannot rebuild Fenway Park in place, it's just totally impractical and unreasonable from an economical point of view. And our footprint is way too small to build a modern ballpark with the amenities the fans need. We're facing the future with our hearts in our hand, here. I've got to move on, myself, I can't get caught up in the emotion of what we're doing at Fenway Park. But after a great deal of work with our architects and engineers, we've designed a new ballpark for building right next door. We're going to move homeplate 206 yards down the street. And we think, when you view the model, that we've captured the essence of Fenway Park, and when you view the renderings that we have here, if you can put yourself in a seat as you view these renderings, I think you actually will be able to say to yourself we envision ourselves sitting right in Fenway Park. So we're presenting it to you, and I hope you will embrace it. We have the ultimate All-Star here in Boston with us for the All-Star Game, and that's our Ted Williams. He's going to be throwing out the first ball tomorrow night. And Ted said in Dan Shaughnessy's book, which was published this spring, that he can't wait to see a new ballpark. If any city deserves a new ballpark it's Boston. Our childhood hero and a great All-Star, Ted, understands what we have here, because he played so many years here, but he, too, is ready to move on to a new ballpark. He speaks for our fans in many ways. We've had our plans up on the web site for a long time, for these two months, and we've had about 20 thousand e-mails coming into us in response to our plans. And 90 percent of those people have asked us to build a ballpark, as soon as possible. And we did a poll a few weeks ago, and 80 percent of the fans were in agreement with a new ballpark. We're encouraged with what was presented and we're hopeful we can move forward expeditiously on it. I'll let the Commissioner speak and then we can cover questions after that.

COMMISSIONER BUD SELIG: Thank you, John. And good afternoon. I was here, I believe, on May 28th and this really is, for me, I guess 2nd or 3rd nature now, because I went through this myself as all of you know in Milwaukee. I've helped a lot of other clubs in the last six or seven years. And let me say, I understand, as I came here early this morning, my first trip here was in 1949, my mother brought me. I obviously brought my team here a lot and the Brewers and the Red Sox did play a lot of great games here, and so just walking in here is still, for me, a thrill. The only other park that I can say that about is Wrigley Field, Chicago. And I understand all the history, but this is, for baseball, a very critical franchise. They play in a very tough division, in the American League East. One can spend a lot of time talking about baseball economics, but the only way for this team to generate the revenue that they have to do to be successful is with a new ballpark. And so recognizing the history and tradition, they're going to build a new ballpark right next to their old one. They're going to keep much of the history of this park right here. Their economic commitment will be very, very significant, probably more significant than any other club has done up to this point in time, or certainly as significant. And this will do what you set out to do, ensure baseball for the next two generations. Now, I've been through renovation, County Stadium was built in 1950 to '53, when we stole the Braves from Boston. And renovation after three or four years of starting it didn't work. Many other people have gone through the renovation phase in other cities. It is not economically feasible, it just doesn't work. The problem with that is that within 10 to 12 years you're back at it again. And you need -- you need a new ballpark anyway. And so while people can talk about renovation, just take it from someone who has been with it, spent a lot of time analyzing these things, it just isn't economically feasible. But here you have at least the preservation of this historical jewel, the new ballpark will look very much as Jim is about to tell you, like the old one. The baseball team, itself, is very willing to put in what would have been ten years ago, five years ago, 20 years ago, an astounding amount of its own money into the stadium. And so I would hope that while all of us care about the history and tradition of this sport, we don't want to make this critical franchise a prisoner of a system that can't support itself. I really urge everybody here to continue to move forward, because delay in a great sense only exacerbates its problems. And so Jim Healey, it'll be a pleasure to listen to the plans, and I thank all of you for coming today.

JIM HEALEY: Commissioner, thank you. Before I open it up for questions and answers I'd just like to briefly explain what we have on the model and the renderings. If you look at the rendering on the far end over there, we will be saving a significant portion of the old ballpark. We'll be saving the infield, part of leftfield, part of the Green Monster, and the manual scoreboard. We'll also be saving, as you see in the middle, the facade of the old ballpark that dates back to 1912. And behind that facade we will build a Hall of Fame, a Red Sox Museum and a Children's Interactive Educational Center. And we envision the old ballpark and the plaza around it will become a public park, open 365 days out of the year. The new ballpark, which we envision opening in April of 2003, will be built in two phases. The first phase will be about 38,000 seats, and will have everything except for the centerfield bleachers. The centerfield bleachers right now are sitting on the homeplate grandstand area of Fenway Park. So when we move out of Fenway in 2002, we can then build the centerfield bleachers in the new ballpark and hopefully be ready by 2004. As John mentioned the homeplate is 206 yards from the homeplate in the old ballpark, it will have 44,130 seats. The field dimensions will be essentially the same as they are in Fenway now, 37 foot high leftfield wall, we will have a manual scoreboard there, as well. The triangle in centerfield will be 420 feet, give or take a foot or two. Pesky's pole in right field will be moving back about five feet, and we are doing that because we are changing the geometry of the seats in right field. The right field seats in Fenway Park right now face the bullpen. And in the new park all of the seats in right field will face second base. So in order to do that, we must move the foul pole back about five feet. As you can see the leftfield seats will be as they are right now, what I consider the best seats in baseball, we will retain those. Seats behind homeplate will be five feet closer to the plate. And there will be less foul territory in right field, as well. The ballpark will be on three levels, as you see in the rendering next to John Harrington. The middle level would be a club seat and private suite level, about 95 private suites. And will have 5,300 club seats. And the upper deck will have about 10,000 seats, it will be the smallest upper deck of any of the ballparks built in the last years, about 16 to 17 rows. And for those of you familiar with Baltimore, it will be the same pitch as the seats in Baltimore. The bleacher seats will have an upper deck, two decks out in the bleachers. The ballpark will be depressed 22 feet into the ground. That will enable us to have a concourse area where we will have our media interview room in the concourse area instead of a mile away from homeplate as we do now. All our club houses and back office facilities, the commissary will be on that club level, as well. The concourse will be on street level on Boylston Street and Brookline Avenue, red brick with arches, will be attractive on the street and hopefully create a nice street scape. I'd like to invite Dan Duquette, our General Manager to join us, and I'd like to open it up to questions.

Q. You're not going to move the position where the original facade of the ballpark is?

JIM HEALEY: That's correct, no. The facade in Yawkey Way, that will stay where it is.

Q. The ballpark will be on the other side?

JIM HEALEY: The ballpark will be across the street.

Q. What were you saying about the bleachers?

JIM HEALEY: The bleachers, if you look at the rendering on the end, the centerfield bleachers actually sit where Fenway Park is right now, where the 600 Club is and the grandstand behind homeplate in the old ballpark. So those bleachers would be built the year after we open, so those 6,000 seats would be ready for 2004.

Q. That's actually on the grounds of the --

JIM HEALEY: That's correct.

Q. (Inaudible.)

JIM HEALEY: Actually we talked informally to many of our former players, and with the exception of Ted, they loved the idea of keeping the same dimensions on the wall in the new ballpark.

Q. (Inaudible.)

JIM HEALEY: Well, we've been surveying our fans. If we had a new ballpark, what would you like to see? And it overwhelmingly came back that they wanted us to keep the wall and keep approximately the same field dimensions with the bullpens in right field and Pesky's pole, that came back and was very loud and clear. That was one of the single biggest reasons why this ballpark has been so well accepted by the fans.

JOHN HARRINGTON: We're hearing from our architects, HOK, the people who are building new ballparks, be it Houston and Detroit, they're all asking HOK to design unique dimensions in the field, because they like the Fenway style of baseball, and the uniqueness builds a character, if you will, for that ballpark. They're all trying to copy not specifically the uniqueness of Fenway, but to create their own uniqueness.

Q. What's the estimated cost of that project right there?

JIM HEALEY: The ballpark is $350 million. The infrastructure is about $50 million. The land acquisition demolition and relocation is about $65 million, and we have two parking garages in that project, 2,160 car garage, across from the present ticket office on Brookline Avenue, where we're holding tonight's party and another garage on Boylston Street, and that will be about 630 cars. The two garages are $82 million each.

Q. Could you do the math again? What's the total?

JIM HEALEY: About $545 million.

Q. And how much of that do you want to be public money?

JIM HEALEY: We haven't determined that yet, we're still working on our finances, and maybe John would want to take a crack at this one.

JOHN HARRINGTON: We have not tried to present any financial plan, because the first hurdle we had to cross was to present a new ballpark, which our fans and the public could accept. We were very careful and deliberate in that process. We have a unique financial synergy, if you will, connected with this project, because we will have an additional million fans coming in, with substantial, additional ballpark revenue related to that, and we'll have substantial parking revenue that would be constructed and so there is substantial cash flow associated with the entire project, and we're going to be conducting a dialogue with the public officials over the ensuing months to see how to carve out a financial plan that I have a great degree of confidence will be a very successful financial plan, but it's intricate because of dealing with city and state officials on this.

Q. Does the team feel it has a cap somewhere?

JOHN HARRINGTON: Does it have a cap?

Q. Is there a number that you can exceed as a private business, and that you'll need help?

JOHN HARRINGTON: Sure. We have an interesting financial situation with this new ballpark. We have objectives of first trying to maintain affordability of ticket prices for our fans, and so the sky is not the limit in terms of ticket prices and because of the small nature of our ballpark now, we do have a high ticket price structure, if you will, because we don't have a lot of cheap bleacher seats available, which brings down the average ticket price in most ballparks. One of our objectives is to have affordable ticket prices, and the other objective is to maintain the competitive levels of the team. So the new revenues cannot be solely associated or allocated to debt financing for the new ballpark. We have to carve some out to maintain affordability and some for debt service. So when you put all that in the mix, there will be a limit beyond which you won't want to go, but it's not an absolute number at this point in time.

Q. Can you give us a ballpark, what that number might be?

JOHN HARRINGTON: If there's not an absolute number, I can't give you a ballpark, either.

Q. You'll secure future revenue streams to get your financing?

JOHN HARRINGTON: We will look at that, yes.

Q. Including sky box revenue and club seat revenue and parking?

JOHN HARRINGTON: We will be using some deposit money as upfront money on those things. As Bud indicated to you that we will probably have one of the largest private investments in this ballpark than any other ballpark that has been built, it will be very close to San Francisco, if not exceeding it. But in the end there are substantial benefits, extraordinary benefits to the public from this new ballpark, and there's exceptional costs associated with this ballpark, from the site acquisition and the site preparation of this, because of the unique nature of the site. And so we're going to need public support, there's no question about that. How much will have to be determined by this process of the dialogue that we will have with both City and State Officials over the balance of the year.

Q. John, do you anticipate a public vote on this, and if so, how long down the road particularly if there's any tax dollars involved?

JOHN HARRINGTON: We don't expect there would be a referendum or public vote. The Legislature of Massachusetts and the City and City Council has authority to allocate monies for projects like this, to the best of our knowledge.

Q. What's the time line?

JOHN HARRINGTON: We're hopeful having the financing in place by year end. That's not a hard and fixed date, either.

Q. When would you like to be in the ballpark?

JOHN HARRINGTON: We would like to be in the first part of the new ballpark by opening day of the year 2003. And then we would commence the second stage of construction and hopefully that will be completed by opening day of 2004.

JIM HEALEY: That's an ambitious schedule. That anticipates breaking ground in approximately November of 2000. That's what we're shooting for right now.

Q. What about the thoughts of preserving the old park, as how much you want to preserve and whether you could have preserved anymore, and made any sort of mall or restaurant arcade in there?

JIM HEALEY: We actually hired a firm that specializes in preservation to work with us, and we sat down with them and went over the various iterations of Fenway Park since 1912 when it was first built and 1934, '76, '81 and '88. And they came back to us and made the suggestions on the infield, part of leftfield, part of the Green Monster board, what they call the tapestry wall in Yawkey Way. And so we anticipate in those areas that will become a public park. And there will be a mall around that. Not necessarily a shopping mall, but an area people can gather before games. If you're coming to the game tonight you could meet your friend at second base on the old field. We would anticipate vendors and entertainers being there, and Yawkey Way would become a pedestrian mall something like Utah Street, where it would become a gathering place for people, to encourage them to come earlier and stay later, to interrupt the flow of people coming in and out of the ballpark.

Q. Could more be preserved in these plans?

JIM HEALEY: The area which is right field right now, right field, centerfield, that will be, at some point in the future, developed. We don't know what we're going to put in there yet. We will will work to determine the best use of that property. But we anticipate selling it or leasing it to develop funds to help pay for the new ballpark.

Q. For the Commissioner, is there a concern for the amount of runs being scored in baseball as a whole, double digit games where 10-8, 11-10, or do you feel the game is fine the way it is right now?

COMMISSIONER BUD SELIG: There's no question that we've had an explosion in this area. There are a myriad of reasons for this. And we can all debate them. I don't believe in solving problems by continuing to change rules and do things, I know there's been a lot of conversation about that. Somebody asked me this morning in fact if this was a preordained plan. We're not that smart, and believe me, they're not preordained plans. There are a myriad of reasons for it, and I think like a lot of things we go through cycles, and this is a cycle we're in right now and we're not going to do anything short-term to address the issue, but I think that the clubs, themselves, and the general managers know what they have to do to maybe curb some of this. I'm still a purest in that I love 1-0 and 2-1 games. I can't tell you that all of this is just spectacular. But on the other hand players are bigger and stronger today and there's just a lot of things that are different. So I believe this is a cycle that we're in. But a cycle that in a certain sense will adjust like everything does.

JOHN HARRINGTON: Bud, there is one exception to the experience. Who would have expected that the Boston Red Sox would have the lowest ERA in the American League, playing half the games in this little band box.

COMMISSIONER BUD SELIG: That's interesting, I said that the other day, talking about the ball and the wind, and I said, gee, doesn't Pedro Martinez use the same ball and the same wind blowing for him and the other pitcher and so on and so forth.

Q. Bud, given the controversy throughout the nation, the opposition to public funding and you look at some of the sales that were made after these fields have been built in Arlington and Cleveland; is there any sort of mechanism or responsibility if the owner realizes an enormous profit after a building of a publicly funded park to refund the public for its investment that made this sale possible?

COMMISSIONER BUD SELIG: Well, Jim, look, we can get into a long philosophical discussion on what club responsibility and what baseball's responsibility is, you and I have had some of these discussions. You know, there are people who build ballparks and don't sell their clubs. There are people who build ballparks and quite frankly their values don't go up. There are others where I think you're referring particularly to the Texas situation where there's much more involved in that situation than just the ballpark, a lot of land, a lot of other things that really increased its value, things that they did all along to do that. I guess the point that I would make, because there are no guarantees in life either way, you make, you lose. That would be like somebody coming in, if I took your philosophical thesis and said, well, if I buy a ball club, as somebody did in your town in 1984, and I lose, I can demonstrate, and you come in and say I've lost $130 million in 14 years owning that team, I think the community ought to give us some money back, even though the community benefitted. Of course not, that would be silly. Now, the only thing I can say about new ballparks, and I'm walking around Boston today and it proves the point again, this All-Star Game will inject, and I suppose one can debate the dollars, but I'm going to say $75 million into the Boston economy. The psychological value, and what it's done for the community you can put aside, but I know there are economists who will say that stadiums don't really do this, and I can produce for you ten economists who have done reports that are the antithesis of that. But the thing I don't understand about the debate here, is that owners are quite willing to expend much of their own money into new stadiums, too. And they're not asking anything for that. And they are taking a tremendous risk. And they're here. They're putting their own money into it, too. And there are other economic benefits that flow through that the team doesn't get anything for and shouldn't, who's asking for that. And so the fact of the matter remains, and in this particular case, here, because we have a club, while they haven't given a precise amount is already telling you that it's probably going to be the largest contribution or one of the largest that any team made. 10 or 20 years ago no team put any money in their own stadium. Today that's all changed. And so it's sort of difficult to ask clubs to give guarantees for things when they're quite willing to sign long-term leases, put a lot of their own money into it, certainly watch a community benefit, as well it should and one hopes it will, and therefore, if they wind up with doing reasonably well, I think that's not unreasonable, given the fact that they've taken the majority of the risk.

JOHN HARRINGTON: I think just to add to that, if you look at the public side of the investment in that Texas Rangers ballpark, you will find that the public sector benefitted substantially, also. That the projections for the public in that Texas stadium ran out 20 to 25 years on pay back, and it's actually being retired in 11 years. So the benefit of the pay back was only half due to the public financing of that ballpark. Both sides of the equation in that partnership benefitted strongly from that ballpark.

COMMISSIONER BUD SELIG: Just one thing else, one thing whether it's Baltimore or Cleveland, take those two, when you talk to people, not only the public sector but the private sector fans, they're not complaining at all. They're thrilled with what happened. Same thing in Denver, they're thrilled with what's happening. And you sometimes wonder -- the best examples you have are people that have built them and they talk about how much it's done for them. I understand that one can debate the economic benefits, that's a legitimate argument. But my bottom line is even our greatest critics were saying at the very best, it will be a break-even proposition. I submit to you today, what other public expenditure do you know in any other area that at least breaks even? You can sit here until hell freezes over and you won't think of one.

Q. I was wondering if there was any update on the Montreal situation, and in particular at this stage is it still a question of ownership and ballpark or more ballpark than ownership?

COMMISSIONER BUD SELIG: I think it's both. I think it really is both. And I would say to you that the Montreal situation is one I'm monitoring now almost on a daily basis. They appear to be somewhat optimistic that they're making progress, but I would say it's really in the same posture that it was two or three months ago, and there is nothing new to report to you today on either situation, either the ownership or the stadium.

Q. Do you have any meetings planned this week?

COMMISSIONER BUD SELIG: Some of our people do early next week, just to get an update.

Q. Bud, Safeco Field in Seattle opens in Thursday, can you comment on that field and on the influx of stadiums around the League?

COMMISSIONER BUD SELIG: Well, I'm going to be there Thursday. I understand that there's controversy there over the dollar amount that's in dispute. And obviously as we open Safeco Field Thursday night, the controversy is really aberrational, because we haven't had a situation like that. The other parks that are opening are all very much on time and on budget, Detroit, Houston, Milwaukee, and San Francisco, of course, and San Francisco is being mostly financed by the Giants. So it's a great thing. And by the way, for whatever else one thinks here and you go through all the history and all the tradition and all the things they're talking about, the fact that so many new ballparks are springing up is further impetus as to why something has to take place here. As far as the Safeco Field thing, I'm sure that somehow the whole situation will be worked out. You know, people forget, and I will say this in Seattle on Thursday, the team was threatening to move under its old owner, who had tried everything. This group finally saved it at the last moment. I mean it was really -- it was as close as we've come to moving a franchise in a long time. They have lost in actual cash, somewhere close to a hundred million dollars since then. So it isn't that this ownership hasn't made a commitment to keeping a team and trying to do what they have to do. And I know there's mostly Seattle people in the group, and I have every confidence that they're going to work that out.

Q. Having looked at a lot of the ballparks built the last ten years, and being almost done building your ballpark now, why do you think Seattle has had these overruns occur when all of the rest of them have managed to come in close?

COMMISSIONER BUD SELIG: I don't know the answer to that. I've talked to John Ellis and Chuck Armstrong quite a bit. But unless you're there, unless one is there and in the midst of all the dialogue and conversation that goes on, I can't give you a definitive answer to that. I just know this is a very responsible ownership. John Ellis is a man who's a leading citizen of Seattle and very sensitive to the public/private relationship. So I can't tell you what was unique about that. But I just have every confidence that somehow they'll work it out to everybody's satisfaction. It needs to be worked out.

Q. Bud, back on the Montreal situation, with the team not drawing even a half a million people so far this year, does it show you that, A, that the fans in Montreal won't support Major League Baseball any longer, and B, if that team were to move to Washington would that have any affect on your thinking there?

COMMISSIONER BUD SELIG: Let's take the attendance first. When the Braves were threatening or wanted to move to Atlanta in 1965, it was the so-called lame duck year in Milwaukee, and they drew a little under half a million people, people said, I told you, they're not a Major League city. But that's nonsense, people were leaving and understandably angry. That was not a question of whether they would or would not draw. In the Montreal case there's been a lot said, there's been a lot written. There's been a lot of negativeism on a lot of sides there, and it's clearly affected their attendance. But we haven't moved a team since 1971, right here, as a matter of fact, at our meeting right here in September of 1971. I know how hard we tried to keep a team in Washington, we were here about 12, 14 hours. And I've often told the story, because my heart was broken when the Braves left that I was physically sick that night, because I felt so bad, but we had no alternative. We're trying hard in Montreal. We're giving all the parties ample time to do the things that they need to do to make that an economically viable franchise. And somebody was critical the other day and said how much more time is the Commissioner going to give? Well, you want to be fair. You want to bend over backwards to be fair. One can make their own assessments about Montreal, but it is a Major League city and has been in 1969. And we want to give them at least a fair amount of time to work their problems out. And I don't think that this year's attendance is really a crucial factor one way or another.

JIM HEALEY: Commissioner, thank you for joining us today. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for coming.

End of FastScripts….

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