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BOSTON-If Red Sox officials have their way, Fenway Park will be designated a historic landmark, becoming the first major league ballpark in the US to win that distinction. But Sox officials may not have had history on their mind when they asked the National Park Service to put Fenway on the National Historic Register. The designation could also save the team millions of dollars in renovation costs by making the ballpark eligible for federal tax credits.

Janet Marie Smith, the Red Sox vice president of planning and development, tells GlobeSt.com that the team has applied for landmark status for both Fenway, the oldest and smallest ballpark in the country, and two adjacent buildings on Brookline and Lansdown streets, both built in the 1920s. “The ownership has spent three years studying the possibility of a complete renovation of Fenway Park. We believe we have a good plan and one that ensures Fenway will be thoroughly redone. Certainly, the fact that it would make us eligible for federal tax credits was a nice incentive.” But landmark status also would impose restrictions as well. Once a building has been named a landmark, an owner is restricted from making changes to a building’s facade. The Sox are currently in the process of making $200 million in renovations including adding seats to the centerfield wall.

If the ballpark, which was built in 1912, is designated a historic landmark, it could be eligible for a rehabilitation tax credit of up to 20% or about $40 million, Smith says. Getting landmark status could also give the Red Sox a greater say into development around the park, an area in which the Sox new ownership team has recently acquired several buildings.

The National Parks Service suggested putting Fenway Park on the Register of Historic Places about 20 years ago but no action was ever taken. Only two other Major League stadiums, Chicago’s Wrigley Field and Comiskey Park, were deemed eligible for landmark status but the process was never completed. Comiskey Park was later demolished.

The process of winning the historic designation is expected to take years to complete. “This is not something that just flies through,” Richard Tourangeau, a ranger with the US Parks Service, tells GlobeSt.com. “There are committees, overseers, people who go to look at the property. It’s a long, involved process.”

If approved by the National Park Service, the designation could also impact the way development unfolds around Fenway, which is surrounded by other vintage 1920 buildings. Smith says the park’s historic landmark status may also encourage other building owners to seek a similar designation, thereby preserving the surrounding neighborhood.

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