To those living outside of New England the notion that there might actually be Boston Red Sox fans who want to see a new ballpark built might seem just a bit far-fetched. If you believe the hype from the present ownership of the Red Sox Fenway Park is “America’s Most Beloved Ballpark”. Well, that may be true. Tens of thousands of people from all across America and folks from around the world make the pilgrimage to Boston to take tours of the famed ball yard. Fenway Park tours have become an extremely popular year-round attraction and as a result the Red Sox have identified yet another significant revenue stream. The old ballpark just drips with baseball history and is an extremely important part of America’s sporting past. But at this stage of the game that is precisely what Fenway Park should be—a tourist attraction or a museum. Trust me, for most fans who actually attend games Fenway Park is an uncomfortable and exorbitantly expensive place to visit. You might recall that back in 1999 in a bid to "stay competitive" the Red Sox announced with great fanfare ambitious plans to build a brand new Fenway Park. The dimensions and wall heights would be the same as the current Fenway but plans called for expanded seating as well as the addition of luxury boxes and suites. The new 45,000 seat Fenway Park would be located directly across the street from the old one. I was definitely on board. But alas, the idea never really gained traction in Boston due to financing issues and the Save Fenway Park movement. The plan for a new ballpark was dealt a fatal blow when the new ownership group consisting of John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino chose to go a different route and undertook a massive renovation of the existing Fenway Park. Given the grim economic outlook and spiraling costs it would appear that Red Sox fans are going be stuck with Fenway for at least another 20 years.
Now it is true that the present ownership has proven to be exceptionally creative and has made the Fenway Park experience considerably better than it used to be. Thousands of new seats have been added including those very cool “monster” seats high atop the left field wall. In addition, there are all sorts of new concessions and activities in and around the ballpark. Gone are the days when fans were pretty much limited to rubbery hot dogs, warm beer and stale popcorn. But you had better bring a bundle of cash or your credit card if you expect to get through the day. I mean $6.25 for a cup of hot chocolate? Yikes!!! Yet for all it seems to have going for it Fenway Park remains a pretty awful place for most fans to take in a game. Sure it looks great on television but looks can be deceiving. Fenway Park was built in 1912 when people were a heck of lot smaller than they are today. Even the best seats in the house are on the smallish side and if you are among those fans consigned to the upper grandstand or bleacher areas the seats are even smaller and harder and there is precious little leg room to boot. Meanwhile, you are simply out of luck if a chubby person occupies the seat next to you or a tall person is sitting right in front of you. Then there are all of those obstructed-view seats and the poles that thousands of fans have to contend with each and every night. Nothing short of a total reconstruction of the ballpark will ever alleviate that miserable situation. Factor in the cramped and dreary concourses under the stands, the antiquated bathrooms and the abominable parking situation in the area surrounding the ballpark and you just might understand why a growing number of fans would love to see a new stadium built.
On Sunday October 3rd I attended the final regular season game of the 2010 season at Fenway with a buddy of mine. The tickets were given to him as a gift and they were phenomenal seats. We sat just four rows behind the Red Sox dugout. It was the first regular season game I had been to in a dozen years. It was fun to see the Sox beat the Yankees and deny the Bronx Bombers another A.L. East title but when I stop to consider the entire experience I realize why I just don’t have that much interest in going to Red Sox games anymore. It’s a real hassle. While I will always have very fond memories of Fenway Park I jumped off the “Save Fenway” bandwagon years ago. We New Englanders tend to be a very provincial lot but once you visit some of the handsome new ballparks around the country you begin to see things in a whole new light. I sincerely hope that Fenway Park stands forever as the tourist attraction and baseball museum that I referred to earlier. I would hate to see it torn down. But Red Sox fans deserve a comfortable, state of the art ballpark. If we are going to continue to pay the highest ticket prices in baseball we should settle for nothing less. I only wish that the current ownership had gone that route when they first acquired the team back in 2003. A short window of opportunity to get the job done seems to have opened and closed. The city of Boston and the State of Massachusetts should not have to subsidize contruction of a new ballpark. It is simply bad public policy. In the meantime, it was announced on October 7th that the Red Sox ownership group has just spent $400 million to buy the Liverpool soccer franchise in England. Clearly, building a new ballpark for the Red Sox is not a priority for this ownership group. They have other fish to fry. As things stand right now you will probably not see a new ballpark built in Boston in my lifetime.
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Fenway Park is a baseball park near Kenmore Square in Boston, Massachusetts, US Located at 4 Yawkey Way, it has served as the home ballpark of the Boston Red Sox baseball club since it opened in 1912, and is the oldest Major League Baseball stadium currently in use. It is the only one of the original standard ballparks that is still in use. It is also the oldest venue used by a professional sports team in the United States. It is known throughout New England as "America's Most Beloved Ballpark."
Because of the ballpark's age and constrained location in the dense Fenway–Kenmore neighborhood, the park has had many renovations and additions over the years not initially envisioned, resulting in unique, quirky features, including "the Triangle", "Pesky's Pole", and most notably the famous Green Monster in left field. Fenway Park is renowned for hosting dedicated Red Sox fans, collectively called "Red Sox Nation". Every Red Sox home game since May 15, 2003, has sold out; in 2008, the park sold out its 456th consecutive Red Sox game, breaking a Major League record.
Besides baseball, Fenway Park has been the site of many other sporting and cultural events, including professional football games for the Boston Redskins and the Boston Patriots, concerts, soccer and hockey games, political and religious campaigns.