There should be plenty of pomp and circumstance as the Boston Red Sox ring in their 100th season at Fenway Park in April. But right now, the team is 1,500 miles from home, working out and playing exhibition games in JetBlue Park at Fenway South, their new spring training facility just outside Fort Myers, Fla.
Built at a cost of $78 million — most of which came from local tourism taxes — JetBlue Park has room for about 11,000, compared with Fenway Park's capacity of over 37,000. But for fans, the brand new stadium has a familiar feel.
Home and visitor's bullpens are just behind the right field fence. Further to the right, along the foul line, is a replica of "Pesky's Pole."
Oh, and there's a big green wall 310 feet down the left field line, complete with the very same manual scoreboard that adorned the original "Green Monster" for nearly three decades, before being put in storage.
Not everything here is a perfect replica: the seats are wider and more comfortable. There are no upper decks or center field bleachers. And, to the widely reported dismay of Red Sox owner John Henry, the new Green Monster is 40 feet high — three feet higher than its Beantown namesake.
But Katie Haas, the Red Sox' director of Florida operations, says the authenticity most appreciated by Sox players is in the shape of the park itself.
"For us, it’s really about a competitive advantage, because not only does JetBlue Park have the same field dimensions, one of our six practice fields also has the same dimensions as Fenway. So we have two fields here that we can practice on for close to two months, so that we can ready ourselves for the regular season."
And during a recent preseason game against the Minnesota Twins, some fans could almost imagine they were back in Fenway Park.
"Well, I think if you lower your hat enough so you don’t see that there’s no grandstands or no bleachers in the outfield," said Patrick Delahinty of Newton. "And you look at the field by itself, it’s pretty believable.”
Construction of JetBlue Park at Fenway South began on Aug. 13, 2010, and the stadium opened to the public on Feb. 25 of this year.
This program aired on March 16, 2012.