What's new at Fenway Park this year, from security screening to avocado fries

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

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‘Tis the season of cautious optimism — and this time we’re not talking about the MBTA. No, we’re talking about Opening Day.

The Red Sox are hoping to turn a new page in their first game of the 2023 season this afternoon at Fenway Park against the Baltimore Orioles. After a last-place finish in their division last year, WBUR’s Sharon Brody reports that some Sox diehards are feeling hopeful entering the new season. (For now.)

  • New guys: While the Sox lost Xander Bogaerts, Nathan Eovaldi and J.D. Martinez this offseason, they added former Cy Young Award-winning pitcher (and today’s starter) Corey Kluber, Japanese star Masataka Yoshida and veteran slugger Justin Turner. And for the first time in a long time, they have a healthy Chris Sale [knocks on wood] back in the rotation.
  • Expect a faster game: You’ll notice five new pitch clocks around Fenway Park as part of new MLB rules aimed at cutting down the length of games. The hope is that your next trip to the ballpark will take closer to two-and-a-half hours — not three.
  • And maybe a faster entrance: There’s new LED light towers and renovated locker rooms. But perhaps the most noticeable Fenway upgrade for fans this year will be the security screening process. Thanks to a partnership with a Waltham-based AI company, you’ll be able to leave your phones and wallets in your pockets as you walk through the park’s metal detectors. (Just make sure you’re up to speed on Fenway’s updated bag policy.)
  • On the menu: Last year, Fenway gave us “fluffernutter fries.” This year, the big new menu innovation is… avocado fries? (We won’t knock it until we try it.) There’s also a New England maple bacon burger, souvenir helmet nachos and a crab cake sandwich — apparently to help the Orioles feel at home.
  • Bring gloves — and not just the baseball kind — if you’re heading to the game today. Meteorologist Danielle Noyes writes it will still feel like winter, with highs in the low 40s and winds of 15-25 mph. Check out the full Opening Day forecast here.

Gov. Maura Healey has officially signed a $389 million supplemental budget that extends partially boosted SNAP benefits for another three months, provides aid to the state’s strapped emergency shelters and allows restaurants to sell to-go cocktails for another year.

Heads up: Mayor Michelle Wu is announcing a $4 million expansion of Boston’s tuition-free community college program this morning.

  • What’s different: Currently, the program covers up to three years of tuition and fees for low-income Boston students. But beginning this fall, Wu’s office says all residents will be eligible for help — regardless of their age, income or immigration status — as long as they enroll at one of six partner colleges. Read the list of eligible schools here.

Look up: This evening will be your best chance in Massachusetts to see the rare five-planet conjunction of Jupiter, Mercury, Venus, Uranus and Mars in the night sky. There’s only one problem: it might be a little hard to see all of them with the naked eye, according to Tim Brothers, the observatory manager at MIT. So, he provided some tips:

  • Where to look: Brothers told WBUR’s Irina Matchavariani that the planets will become visible just a few fingers off the horizon — slightly below the moon. And you’ll have to be quick to catch them all; Brothers says they’ll be visible “a few minutes” after the 7 p.m. sunset. (Here’s a graphic of the planets’ rough alignment.)
  • How to see them: Due to light pollution in densely populated parts of the state, Brothers says the best viewing areas will be the outer Cape Cod, Nantucket or western Massachusetts. For those in the Boston area, use binoculars or a telescope.
  • His top tip: Turn off your lights — and your phone — so your eyes can fully adjust to the night sky (which Brothers says can take up to 30 minutes).

P.S.— WBUR’s spring fundraiser is in full bloom, and today is an especially great day to give. That’s because every gift made before 10 a.m. will be matched by 50%. (For example, $100 becomes $150.) Give now to increase your impact.


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Nik DeCosta-Klipa Newsletter Editor
Nik DeCosta-Klipa is the newsletter editor for WBUR.



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