The Fenway Park Experience

Max Power

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Instead of polluting a thread about Larry Lucchino with whining about Fenway, we could have thread dedicated to it.

I'm on record as not enjoying the recent Fenway Park Experience that ownership is trying to sell, but that has nothing to do with the physical aspects of the park. I love the footprint and dimensions of the place. I have no complaints about the size of the seats and rows and poles, which are all part of being closer to the action than any other park in the league. Even the number of bathrooms and places to get concessions in the concourses are fine.

The things I don't like are how the experience is focused toward visiting fans, since it makes more money positioning it as a tourist destination. There are a lot of concession stands, but few options and all of terrible quality. The scheduled singing of Sweet Caroline is lame. There's no marketing toward the local fans to make the ballpark a community asset. It's hard to put a finger on exactly what has changed in the last 10 years, but the place just doesn't feel the same.

Tearing the place down and building new solves zero of those problems. But maybe I'm missing how putting a big, generic ballpark in the suburbs with giant parking garages all around it makes everything better.
 

HfxBob

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I have wondered if it would be possible to leave the park and its dimensions and features exactly as is but completely tear down and re-build some of the seats and the facilities.
 

Salem's Lot

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I have wondered if it would be possible to leave the park and its dimensions and features exactly as is but completely tear down and re-build the stands and the facilities.

It would be tough to do given the footprint, and it would probably cost a lot of seating.
 

Curt S Loew

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I have wondered if it would be possible to leave the park and its dimensions and features exactly as is but completely tear down and re-build some of the seats and the facilities.
This was Harrington's proposal in 1999 before he sold the team. "New Fenway Park". Similar to "New Yankee Stadium". They would have used part of the existing Fenway and built a new park with the same field dimensions but modern seating and amenities.

-Edit - Found the Globe article:

https://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/1999/05/16/new-fenway-park-design-impresses-many/LBvo0yPftnGSgvZTmylBPK/story.html
 

Max Power

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I think there was a plan at one point to try to reconfigure the seats down the right field line so they pointed toward the infield instead of centerfield. Those are really the only problematic ones in the place.
 

Jim Ed Rice in HOF

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It would be tough to do given the footprint, and it would probably cost a lot of seating.
I seem to remember when they replaced the loge and bleacher seats one of the questions raised was why they didn't do the same with the grandstand seats and I think the issue was if they did so it would require them to meet current codes or guidelines that would have eliminated a bunch of capacity. There's a pretty good argument to be made that they should do that anyway considering that's where you get the obstructed view seats and a lot of the section 3-6 GS seats are just Godawful.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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This was Harrington's proposal in 1999 before he sold the team. They would have used part of the existing Fenway and built a new park with the same field dimensions but modern seating and amenities.
IIRC, the new park footprint would have been bordered by David Ortiz Dr, Jersey St, Van Ness St, and Fullerton St. They were going to preserve the infield, left field (w/most of the Monster), and the Jersey St facade as a museum of sorts.
 

Salem's Lot

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I seem to remember when they replaced the loge and bleacher seats one of the questions raised was why they didn't do the same with the grandstand seats and I think the issue was if they did so it would require them to meet current codes or guidelines that would have eliminated a bunch of capacity. There's a pretty good argument to be made that they should do that anyway considering that's where you get the obstructed view seats and a lot of the section 3-6 GS seats are just Godawful.
I seem to remember when they replaced the loge and bleacher seats one of the questions raised was why they didn't do the same with the grandstand seats and I think the issue was if they did so it would require them to meet current codes or guidelines that would have eliminated a bunch of capacity. There's a pretty good argument to be made that they should do that anyway considering that's where you get the obstructed view seats and a lot of the section 3-6 GS seats are just Godawful.
Permitting that would be a nightmare. Remember all of the property owners in the neighborhood complaining about the Harrington expansion plan?

And even if they forecasted that keeping the same footprint and dropping capacity to say 26,000 to point the seats correctly and accommodate the modern American ever expanding posterior (and just tripling the ticket price), professional leagues have rules about stadium capacity that clubs have to adhere to.
 

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IIRC, the new park footprint would have been bordered by David Ortiz Dr, Jersey St, Van Ness St, and Fullerton St. They were going to preserve the infield, left field (w/most of the Monster), and the Jersey St facade as a museum of sorts.
Here are a couple of pictures from this page which has a lot of the new park renderings I remember from back in '99.

8036680367
 

Ale Xander

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Thanks for starting this, Max. Will post here onward. Hope to see the Park in April and May to be currently valid.
 

Ale Xander

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I seem to remember when they replaced the loge and bleacher seats one of the questions raised was why they didn't do the same with the grandstand seats and I think the issue was if they did so it would require them to meet current codes or guidelines that would have eliminated a bunch of capacity. There's a pretty good argument to be made that they should do that anyway considering that's where you get the obstructed view seats and a lot of the section 3-6 GS seats are just Godawful.
It would be two birds with one stone too, as you get better seats and more sellouts for a better home field advantage and more importantly for the fans, atmosphere.
So 3 birds I guess.
 

Jungleland

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Eliminating capacity would only make ticket prices balloon at a rate beyond what they already have. Feels like a nonstarter to me on that point alone. That said, I'm on the Fenway forever bandwagon - it's just not nearly bad enough that losing the charm and history would be worth it. Modernize the concourses, improve the food options, explore whether anything in the upper levels can be added or changed, but leave the field, monster, and grandstands roughly as is.
 

Brohamer of the Gods

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Back in 1999 I recall someone going on Channel 4 with Bob Lobel showing off a counter proposal to Harrington that involved replacing the seats within the current Fenway over 4 years. I don't remember anything else about the proposal.
 

Yo La Tengo

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So many of the pros/cons of Fenway are two sides of the same coin:
  • the atmosphere outside the park is fantastic and the walk through the surrounding neighborhood is so much more fun (for me, actual results may vary) than a slog through endless parking lots... BUT there is no affordable/convenient parking nearby
  • there are so many more seats close to the field than most/any other baseball stadium, and the crowd noise during a sell out is unmatched due to the volume of people in a smaller area... BUT the seats are small/tight, the upper levels require supports that block views, and some seats are poorly angled
  • the history and vibe is unmatched, which makes for a really unique sports viewing experience... BUT lots and lots of tourists want to see this piece of history, resulting in a greater than average number of out of town fans and really high ticket prices

I like the history of the place and never want a new park. And I'm a tall/wide dude. The seats aren't great but the trade off is worth it to me. And I'm strictly a peanuts and beer consumer since I can't imagine paying big prices for inherently subpar food when there are legitimately good places to eat before and after the game.

I find other, voluntary, easy to change parts of the experience to be frustrating. The artificial, canned noise is embarrassing. It has gotten worse over recent years, especially when seated under an overhang. Last year we watched the Bello near-no-hitter against Miami. Awesome game with a good crowd. There were multiple people with their hands over their ears in our section, and we saw two groups leave in the mid-innings. Unnecessary and, just as bad, an imitation of other parks. I love walk up music and like Sweet Caroline (although it should only be played in games that are tied or with the Sox winning). But the incessant blaring noise was so bad that I watched part of the game from a worse vantage point just to get away from it.
To me, anything that is a generic import from other venues needs to be critically vetted. Flashing home run lights feel like a G-League basketball gimmick. The yellow uniforms are cool but not every game. More fun, Boston-centric inputs like Dirty Water after a win, but lose the prefab filler.

Who does SOSH know who can do a live chat or Q/A about what works and doesn't work at Fenway?
 
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Curt S Loew

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Back in 1999 I recall someone going on Channel 4 with Bob Lobel showing off a counter proposal to Harrington that involved replacing the seats within the current Fenway over 4 years. I don't remember anything else about the proposal.
That was the "Save Fenway Park" group. They are mentioned in the article I linked above.
 

Trapaholic

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This was a while ago now, but wasn't there also some chatter about building a new Fenway in the Seaport? The ship has sailed on that one too. That whole area used to be desolate now it is fully gentrified.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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This was a while ago now, but wasn't there also some chatter about building a new Fenway in the Seaport? The ship has sailed on that one too. That whole area used to be desolate now it is fully gentrified.
I believe that was Frank McCourt's proposal when he was bidding to buy the Red Sox. He owned property in Southie that he wanted to build a ballpark on.
 

joe dokes

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This was a while ago now, but wasn't there also some chatter about building a new Fenway in the Seaport? The ship has sailed on that one too. That whole area used to be desolate now it is fully gentrified.
I thought there was a briefly-floated Patriots' proposal there, too.
 

curly2

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Interesting that in a new Fenway they didn't consider (or if they did, they rejected) seats on the Monster.
It's incredible to me that no one thought of them before 2003.

In some ways Fenway is best park in baseball. In some ways it's the worst. It's a beautiful dump. But the history is hard to beat. Rafael Devers homers into the same bullpens that Ted and Yaz did.
 

Philip Jeff Frye

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This was a while ago now, but wasn't there also some chatter about building a new Fenway in the Seaport? The ship has sailed on that one too. That whole area used to be desolate now it is fully gentrified.
That was McCourt's plan back when Henry bought the team. I think, properly executed, that could have been amazing, but I doubt McCourt would have been the guy to execute it.

Agreed that the experience has really declined. The food is atrocious - much worse than you get at most decent MLB parks. The pumped in noise, the visual assault of billboards everywhere, non stop commercials between innings, last year's ridiculous light show - I hate it all. The souvenir shops don't even sell anything interesting. Even the area outside the park, which is still nicer than 25 years ago, has declined. There used to be interesting and different food out there. Now it's just the same crap they sell elsewhere.

This is the experience we're supposed to be enjoying in lieu of a competitive team?
 

Trapaholic

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This is one posters' anecdote - In my job I talk to people from all across the country and Canada as well. I try to make small talk and learn what these folks are interested in outside of work. The people who are baseball fans are great because it gives me an excuse to talk about the game with other fans.

Baseball fans, even if they have their own team who they root for, all highlight Fenway as one of their "baseball bucket list" items. Small sample size obviously, and one guy from Omaha bringing his family to Fenway probably does not move the needle that much. Multiply that by a few thousand each year and it starts to add up.

My point is - actual Red Sox fans like myself want to go to Fenway to see their team compete and win. The Fenway Experience piece is clearly not geared toward "us". It feels like they have made a calculated decision that they have wrung the fanbase dry and they are focused on people who do not necessarily root for the Red Sox and want to bring them in as a new revenue source. They will pay the money and do not necessarily care if the Red Sox have a good team or not.
 

JOBU

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This is one posters' anecdote - In my job I talk to people from all across the country and Canada as well. I try to make small talk and learn what these folks are interested in outside of work. The people who are baseball fans are great because it gives me an excuse to talk about the game with other fans.

Baseball fans, even if they have their own team who they root for, all highlight Fenway as one of their "baseball bucket list" items. Small sample size obviously, and one guy from Omaha bringing his family to Fenway probably does not move the needle that much. Multiply that by a few thousand each year and it starts to add up.

My point is - actual Red Sox fans like myself want to go to Fenway to see their team compete and win. The Fenway Experience piece is clearly not geared toward "us". It feels like they have made a calculated decision that they have wrung the fanbase dry and they are focused on people who do not necessarily root for the Red Sox and want to bring them in as a new revenue source. They will pay the money and do not necessarily care if the Red Sox have a good team or not.
And this is what I, and I believe most of the fan base, have a problem with. You can have both of these things. You can market Fenway to the out of tower while putting a quality product on the field. But the ownership at this time is not choosing to do so it seems.
 

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Let me start off by saying that I like Fenway today more than I liked the park 20-25 years ago. It was a dump then and the ownership has done a great job of maximizing every single square inch of the place in making it better.

That said, I've been to a lot of baseball parks (29 and counting, eight aren't around any more) and the only reason why Fenway makes my personal Top Ten is because I've been to Fenway so many times and have had a lot of great experiences. Strictly compared to other parks and their amenities, Fenway is just okay. The food is nothing special, the beer selection is not great, the seats are cramped, a lot of them are facing the wrong way, there are poles every where and the concourses are not for claustrophobics. If you've gone to PNC in Pittsburgh or TMobile in Seattle or AT&T in San Francisco or Petco in San Diego, you'll know what I mean. There's a lot to love about Fenway, no doubt, but like Wrigley Field, I think that its reputation far outweighs the experience.

Honestly, Fenway should be registered as a National Park, where area colleges and high schools and other organizations can play. It would be amazing if a new park could be built in Boston, perhaps along the water where there's no Green Monster (seriously, if you're going to build a new place get rid of it, there's only one and it's actually caused more heartbreak than not) and there are new acountramonts for the next generation of Boston baseball fans. And build the place with wider seats, bigger concourses, better amenities.

I've been thinking about sports stadia a lot recently and while I completely appreciate a place like Camp Nou where there is just the game (no alcohol, very limited food options, no team stores or kiss cams or anything that takes away from the action on the pitch), I've come to conclusion that ball parks should be fun. Like the beach at Petco or the carousel at Comerica or the slide at AT&T. You want your fans to have fun, to have a connection to the game. Baseball can be slow and people need to focus their attention on other things sometimes. That doesn't make "bad fans" or "pink hats" or whatever, it makes them normal human beings. Maybe kids come for the beach, have a great time and then the next time they pay more attention to the game. Maybe a non-baseball fan comes for the drinks, gets caught up in the excitement and becomes more of a Sox fan on the way out.

Creating a fan through the game only doesn't work for most people today, and that's okay. Shit changes. A Fenway Park that's more ameiable to the fan would go a long way in making new fans. Not only that, but a new Fenway that doesn't treat today's body like one from 1915 is also a nice way of getting folks to come back.
 

MFYankees

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And this is what I, and I believe most of the fan base, have a problem with. You can have both of these things. You can market Fenway to the out of tower while putting a quality product on the field. But the ownership at this time is not choosing to do so it seems.
YES, I agree that it's a false dichotomy. And ownership may know this, too, which is why they blew smoke up our asses with "full throttle" talk. Edit: Let's win anyway.
 
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richgedman'sghost

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It would be two birds with one stone too, as you get better seats and more sellouts for a better home field advantage and more importantly for the fans, atmosphere.
So 3 birds I guess.
Just curious when was the last time you went to Fenway? They did increase the concourses and replaced many of the red seats to accommodate modern posteriors so to speak.
 

Yo La Tengo

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I've been thinking about sports stadia a lot recently and while I completely appreciate a place like Camp Nou where there is just the game (no alcohol, very limited food options, no team stores or kiss cams or anything that takes away from the action on the pitch), I've come to conclusion that ball parks should be fun. Like the beach at Petco or the carousel at Comerica or the slide at AT&T. You want your fans to have fun, to have a connection to the game. Baseball can be slow and people need to focus their attention on other things sometimes. That doesn't make "bad fans" or "pink hats" or whatever, it makes them normal human beings. Maybe kids come for the beach, have a great time and then the next time they pay more attention to the game. Maybe a non-baseball fan comes for the drinks, gets caught up in the excitement and becomes more of a Sox fan on the way out.
I think the "fan experience" is a chicken/egg situation. Fenway has a great atmosphere because it packs more people close to the field and is incredibly loud during competitive games, but, as I noted above, there are trade-offs to that design. I lived in Seattle for a number of years and went to a ton of games (a few at the Kingdome and a lot at the new park.) The new park is lovely and easy to navigate. But it spreads fans way far away from the field, which creates a much less intense vibe, leading to the average fan paying much less attention to the game. I am an intense fan and I found myself less attentive at those games, even when they were competitive. The Seattle button pushers fill this space with graphics and sound effects encouraging noise during "key" moments (seriously, one of the graphics just says NOISE!NOISE!NOISE!). I suppose an argument could be made that the Seattle design matches the Seattle fan, but that is not true at Huskies football games, Sounders soccer games, or Seahawks football games when those teams are competitive. Those fans are very focused on the game and loud and seem not to need prompting to make noise/focus on the game.

I'd like to see the Sox lean into the things that make Fenway unique rather than trying to import a generic approach to the fan experience that was created in response to poor turnout at other parks. And, I agree that the team should do everything possible to make the ballpark fun but in a local, creative, unique way.

Said another way, it is possible to have the Seattle ballpark experience in many different cities (I've had that same experience in Houston, Cleveland, and D.C. and there are many other, similar spots). The Fenway experience is different and I hate to homogenize it in an effort to please a generic fan.
 

Bergs

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The food is atrocious - much worse than you get at most decent MLB parks. The pumped in noise, the visual assault of billboards everywhere, non stop commercials between innings, last year's ridiculous light show - I hate it all.
Hard agree. Awful.

The souvenir shops don't even sell anything interesting. Even the area outside the park, which is still nicer than 25 years ago, has declined. There used to be interesting and different food out there. Now it's just the same crap they sell elsewhere.
Hard disagree. My Ortiz HOF can koozie and my Black & White BoSox hockey hoodie say to fuck off with that shit.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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This is the worst problem of all and needs to be dealt with. I just stay away from the ballpark but there's got to be a way to reverse this god awful sonic toxicity!
Don't count on it. This is the way of modern sports arenas. Really, the only thing that separates the Fenway experience from nearly any other stadium/arena (even the minor league ones) in that respect is Fenway still doesn't need to prompt the fans to make noise at appropriate times. But that doesn't extend to player walk-up music and needle drops between innings and all the rest.
 

Ale Xander

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BUT lots and lots of tourists want to see this piece of history, resulting in a greater than average number of out of town fans and really high ticket prices
Their ability to sell $25 tour tickets on bad weather days when there are $8 tickets to see the actual team/game 2 days before or after is truly remarkable.
 

Smiling Joe Hesketh

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The new Truly area in RF is a genuine improvement, I enjoyed my game there last year quite a bit.

Of course, that was SoSH bash day, so shenanigans were involved which may be coloring my experience. But still.
 

AlNipper49

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I don't disagree that good food is better than bad food, but what doesn't align with how I view things is the focus on good food.

You are there for a few hours. You are there to see baseball. Games typically are not around meal times. We grab food outside the park and inside the park, if we get hungry, ballpark stapes are 100% OK. I like beer better than stuff made by Coors or Bud, but it is completely 100% ok to grab a Coors Light, particularly if it's from a vendor that drops it off at your seat. About the only thing that I'd like easier at all ballparks is more coffee options. I can't time how damn tired I am at times and sometimes a coffee helps getting through the game.

This is consistent with all the ballparks that I've been to, but I don't understand why there can't be hundreds of vending machines selling peanuts and crap like that. Even if I don't feel like peanuts I'd rather grab from from a vending machine in 30 seconds than waiting in a line 20 minutes for some nachos.
 

Comfortably Lomb

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That's baseball's core demographic.
Yes, and I am totally HERE for the noise hate. Is everyone deaf? Does everyone want to be deaf? Is it a vicious cycle of increased loudness because fans are increasingly going deaf because of the increased loudness? Turn it down. Stop with the constant wall of sound.

Every time I'm at a baseball game I'm there with people I want to talk to, and it's a constant barrage of pointless noise that I need to talk over (and the same awful classic rocks songs that every was tired of a quarter century ago). And while we're at it get off my lawn too.

Anyway, I greatly prefer the WooSox experience these days. Cheaper, easier to get to the park, still very good baseball, and the stadium is (IMO) more comfortable. No Fenway charm, and maybe little to no charm at all, but the AAA park is a good experience. I don't mind Fenway either and the problem with it to me isn't really the park itself but getting to it from outside the city is more of a pain than it was years ago. The juice doesn't feel worth the squeeze.
 

Mugsy's Jock

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I consider myself a serious baseball fan. I definitely consider myself a cranky old white guy. I mean, look at my avatar. And if you want further corroboration, I'm sure Mrs. Mugsy would be delighted to confirm it. I've been a regular patron at Fenway since I was a toddler, back in the 60s.

All that said, I find most of the tourist/pink-hat aspects of the Fenway experience delightful.

Wally the Green Monster is terrific. No, he's not Phanatic level (nobody is), but I find he's getting better every year. If having a green monster do bits pre-game and between innings to help get kids engaged is wrong, I don't want to be right. [Don't see a need for Tessie, though.]

Sweet Caroline? Sure, why not? It takes place between innings and is more engaging than just watching ads on the jumbotron. Again, if it helps get the pink hat brigade and less serious baseball fans engaged, with no negative impact on hardcore fans, who's to judge? And singing along to Tessie after a Red Sox win is fabulous.

Overall, I like that the music has been updated at least a little, say into the last 30 years. For comparison, the music mix at Der Stade Fasciste hinges on Sinatra and Kate Smith and Cotton-Eye Joe and more doo-wop music than anyone shy of 80 can reasonably be expected to listen to.

The food ain't great -- though truth be told I can't think of a single thing I enjoy at a ballgame beyond hot dogs, popcorn, peanuts, beer, soft drinks, and soft-serve ice cream. Maybe chicken fingers and fries for the kids. I really don't need sushi or a slice of high-end pizza or a lobster roll or a nice bowl of paella or whatever -- can save all those for after the game. Losing Heinz ketchup was an unforced error, but that's been remedied. [I'm totally aligned with @AlNipper49 's comment above.]

A strong majority of the Dentist's legacy fan-engagement events were great. The Opening Days and team reunions and number retirements are all executed really well, and the Fenway All-Star experience with Ted Williams was an all-timer. I like seeing interesting people throw out the first pitch, and if they look like they've never actually thrown a baseball before, that's great too.

Concerts at Fenway? Amazing! And if it gets more people into the ballpark and leads them to think it might be fun to come back for a ballgame someday, fantastic. It would be a tragedy if concerts marred the playing surface, but to my knowledge that hasn't been the case yet.

I think the field itself and the walls and dimensions look great, and all the renovations have been done keeping that intact. The jumbotron is tasteful. The in-park adds feel like they fit. [The Coke bottles were a bit much, though they really didn't bother me all that much.]

The worst part of the Fenway experience, to me, is The Wave. It interferes with actually trying to watch the game. For a while, there was some "Let's do the Wave!" messaging on the jumbotron that killed me... but I think that's done now?

Also, as I've aged, Fenway's cramped and uncomfortable seats have become more of a factor. But I greatly prefer a few hours of needing to remember to stand up and stretch over any renovations that would kill the vibe, close the park for a season or two, and/or reduce capacity.

Okay, now back to yelling at clouds.
 
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8slim

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I'd like to see the Sox lean into the things that make Fenway unique rather than trying to import a generic approach to the fan experience that was created in response to poor turnout at other parks. And, I agree that the team should do everything possible to make the ballpark fun but in a local, creative, unique way.

Said another way, it is possible to have the Seattle ballpark experience in many different cities (I've had that same experience in Houston, Cleveland, and D.C. and there are many other, similar spots). The Fenway experience is different and I hate to homogenize it in an effort to please a generic fan.
I agree with this completely. A New England fan has a lot of options if they want to attend a homogenized sporting event that is largely indistinguishable from attending an event in any other American city. Go to the Garden, or Gillette, or any number of minor league and college venues across the region.

Personally, the only real issue I have with Fenway is the obstructed view seating. It's a colossal PITA to have to analyze potential ticket options on A View From My Seat to make sure I'm not sitting somewhere I can't see home plate or the mound.

Aside from that? The food and beverage options are good enough for me, I don't need gourmet meals or 8% alcohol Triple IPAs at the ballpark. The concourses and rest rooms are as accessible as many other venues I go to (try squeezing your way through the concourse at the Dome in Syracuse and you'll actually appreciate Fenway). Access has the same challenges that one encounters attending any inner-city venue -- convenient parking is expensive, but public transportation is fairly easy. Still, it's, what, $60 to park at Gillette these days? It won't be much cheaper if they build a new park out in the burbs.

Anyway, I like Fenway a lot, and I feel that most of the issues with it are simply a function of the footprint limitations and being snuggled into a city neighborhood. Which also provides unique advantages as well.
 

The Gray Eagle

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Fenway has a great organist and they need to let him play more often and cut down on the blasting of pre-recorded music.

I also don't care about the food there. They have hot dogs or whatever ballpark food if you just can't eat before or wait till after the game.
And games now are closer to 2 hours than 4, so it's not that big of a deal to not have fancy really expensive food at a ballgame (and getting any food at a stadium will always involve long lines, so even less reason to bother with it.)

Overall, Fenway is not perfect but it is great and we are lucky to have it.
 

Max Power

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Boston, MA
Fenway has a great organist and they need to let him play more often and cut down on the blasting of pre-recorded music.

I also don't care about the food there. They have hot dogs or whatever ballpark food if you just can't eat before or wait till after the game.
And games now are closer to 2 hours than 4, so it's not that big of a deal to not have fancy really expensive food at a ballgame (and getting any food at a stadium will always involve long lines, so even less reason to bother with it.)

Overall, Fenway is not perfect but it is great and we are lucky to have it.
Agreed about Josh Kantor and the overall volume in the grandstand. The speakers are placed under the roof and pointed down at the seats, so it blasts the people right below them. I wonder if there's another configuration that would make things audible for the box seats without making the covered seats ridiculously loud.

The food situation is bad, though. Even standard ballpark food is hit and miss. If you get chicken fingers and fries for the kids, they're either cold or dried out from being under heat lamps. The sausages are usually good, but often undercooked with flabby skin and crunchy peppers and onions. The pizza always looks so terrible it makes me depressed when I see someone eating it. And if you don't want meat in bread, your choices are very limited. Other ballparks have tons of different food options, which is nice, but even doing the basics well every single time would be a vast improvement. Aramark has to go.

The lines are also so much longer than they used to be before the new cashless point of sale system was put in a couple of years ago. The tap-tap-tapping on the screen, flipping it over to ask for a tip, and scanning the cards on the reader take so much longer than punching up numbers on a register and handing over cash. I wouldn't be surprised if the payment part literally takes twice as long now as it did before, which is a killer when it comes to the wait. They also don't update the digital signs when stuff is gone. Standing in a long line to pay for something is annoying, but standing in line only to find out they're actually out of the cotton candy your kid was begging for is infuriating.
 

YTF

Member
SoSH Member
The Fenway experience... I would have loved to have seen a new Fenway in the model of Camden Yards. A real old timey look and feel with just a few modern conveniences, but I don't hate what ownership has done to the old joint. Do I wish it were a bit more affordable? Yep. My wife and I would typically go to 3-6 games a year. We haven't been since before covid, and into our mid 60s I'm not sure how many more trips we'll make to see the Sox. Cost might be a small factor, but so is the 6 hour round trip. Due to 2 total knee replacements as well as a hip replacement, much of the seating doesn't work well for me as the cramped rows leave little to no space for me to move my legs. Yet there are seats that do give me more comfort. As for the food, it is what it is and it ain't gourmet, but the game is 3 hours long and if you have a little time to spare, there a better options outside of the park, eat before you go in. As I mentioned, it's been a few years since I've been, but they used to let you bring in food from the outside. Is that still an option? Overpriced beer? That's up to you as is how many you feel compelled to buy. Is ownership more interested in tourists than the local fans? The answer is that they should be interested in both. IMO, ownership has invested a shit ton of money into the team, the park and the surrounding area. I don't begrudge them making profit from these investments. I've taken the Fenway tour and sat on the Green Monster. My wife spent money to have my name on the scoreboard for my 50th birthday. All cool stuff, no regrets. We enjoyed those things and are happy that those options were available for us to experience. No one forced them on us nor do we feel obligated to repeat any of it.

Fenway's an old park that has seen some wonderful improvements over the past 20 plus years. It has some of the highest ticket and concession prices in MLB and that sucks, but we have choices when it comes to how we wish to consume this product. Other than some of the shitty seats I've sat in over the years, my Fenway experience has been pretty positive and much of that is due to the fact that I make the decision as to what my experience needs to be. We park at Riverside and take the T into the Fenway. We grab a pregame bite at El Palon over on Peterborough St or at the Beer Works. Much better than concessions and really not much more expensive. We tend to go in when the gates open to catch the end of BP. It's free with admission, right? We spend very little in the park and souvenirs aren't mandatory. For us it's a pretty full and enjoyable day. We spend what we feel that we can afford and understand we have options as to how we do that. I'm not sure how many more trips we'll make to Fenway. We love the park and the team but there is more of a "been there, done that" attitude these days as we also enjoy experiencing Fenway from the comfort of our living room with the option of watching the last few innings in bed and falling asleep right after the game if not sooner.
 

Philip Jeff Frye

Member
SoSH Member
Oct 23, 2001
10,288
They have 85 different hats and 199 shirts. What would you like them to sell?
I dunno, but when I went into the team store on Jersey Street after a game last summer with the intent to buy something, there was really nothing that caught my eye. I don't want bizarro color hats, and the jerseys all seemed either super expensive or super crappy. I was also surprised that their seemed to zero jerseys with historical names on them - Yaz or Williams or Fisk or something like that. Maybe I was just in the wrong place, maybe I have already bought all the Red Sox gear I will ever need, but nothing seemed interesting at a decent price. I'm certainly in the cranky old man demographic referenced above, so maybe this is just my crankiness.

Overall, the ballpark experience in recent years seems to have followed the same arc as the talent on the field. When Henry bought the team, he brought in front office management that did a tremendous job of putting a competitive team on the field for about 15 years. Then, as we've been yelling at each other about for the last couple of years, something changed and the focus of FSG now seems elsewhere. Similarly, Henry brought in people that did a great job of improving just about every part of the ballpark experience - the monster seats, the reconfigured upper decks, the area behind center field, the Jersey Way concession stands. The food got better and a greater variety of beer came in. Now, again, it seems like the focus is elsewhere. FSG has extracted revenue from every conceivable corner of the park and there's no further enhancement opportunities, so they're milking what they've got and not thinking about ways to make things better. Instead they've gotten worse, particularly since Covid. Am I wrong to think that the Jersey Way stands used to have an interesting variety of stuff? Now its almost all the same things you find inside - chicken fingers, fries, dogs, produced the same way. Even El Tiante's has virtually nothing that makes you think it is something other than just another Aramark concession stand. It's bad and its boring. The franchise really seems in a malaise, on and off the field.

Maybe the good start to the season so far will help me get out of some of my old white guy grumpiness about the state of the Bosox.