According to many in “Red Sox Nation”, the Boston Red Sox historic Fenway Park is “America’s Most Beloved Ballpark”, an icon that should never be torn down and replaced with a modern ballpark. Supposedly Fenway Park is an incomparable baseball experience, filled with history, authenticity and nostalgia. Its unique dimensions and passionate fan base are like none other. Current ownership has put in renovations that have added seats, shops, and created a more fan-friendly experience.
Unfortunately for Red Sox fans, because of these ridiculous arguments they will have to continue to travel to other cities in order to actually enjoy watching the Red Sox.
Let me break down the many inherent flaws of the “keep Fenway” argument.
Fenway Park is not an incomparable baseball experience. Wrigley Field is older and the only other park in the majors built before the 1950s. Having attended a game at Wrigley, I can assure you that the experience is a million times better in Chicago. Wrigley is much bigger. Its seats are much more comfortable and unlike Fenway they all are angled towards home plate. Thus the idea that Fenway is not comparable is simply not true. It is comparably poor.
Fenway Park does have a lot of history. Who can forget game 7 of the 1975 World Series? I know the Cincinnati Reds can’t, because they beat the Red Sox 4-3 and celebrated on historic Fenway’s grounds. Likewise the 1967 St. Louis Cardinals will never forget beating the Red Sox 7-2 to capture game 7 of the World Series in front of the Fenway faithful. And does anyone think that Bucky “Freakin” Dent won’t ever forget the monster home run he hit over the Green Monster in the New York Yankees 5-4 win on the final day of the 1978 season, to cap off a historic Red Sox collapse in which they blew a 14.5 game lead? There is a lot of history in Fenway Park, but most of it is bad.
Fenway certainly is authentic, nostalgic, and nestled into the neighborhood, unlike most other stadiums that are built along interstates with thousands of parking spots. However, these just contribute to the really crappy experience of Fenway. Because its dimensions are dictated by the neighborhood streets the experience is miserable for everyone. The concourse is way too small, and the only good seats in the house are the box seats, which only Ben Affleck and Stephen King can afford. The rest of us sit in a seat that is almost never faces home plate. Watching the game feels a lot like backing out of your driveway because you have to turn your neck to see anything. And no Fenway experience would be complete without a giant weight-bearing pole obstructing your view.
Fenway was built in 1912, when apparently the average American man was 5′ 2″. The seats are ridiculously small and wooden. There’s no place to put your $8.50 beer, and if you have to stand up to go to the bathroom you get dirty looks from everyone in your row when they have to stand up as you awkwardly squeeze past them.
The fan base is passionate; they just aren’t at the games. The Fenway crowd is the most overrated in sports. Most are the pink hats are there just to swing “Sweet Caroline” in the 8th inning and take pictures to put on Facebook. Having been to Yankee stadium many times, I can assure you that Yankee fans are treated much better in Boston than we are in the Bronx. I found out the hard way that you will not be served beer while wearing a Red Sox jersey in New York, and if you sit in the bleachers you will have tacos thrown at you since they don’t serve the animals in that section beer.
Current ownership has indeed put in renovations that have added seats and shops. This isn’t a good thing though. I don’t want new seats; I want a new park. I’ve seen games in the new stadiums in Pittsburgh, Anaheim, and Baltimore. They are state-of-the-art, which has made the experience of watching a game there comfortable and enjoyable. The argument that Fenway should be preserved because it is historic is laughable. Does Italy’s soccer team play it’s home games in the Colosseum? Nope. Even the Yankees tore down the “House that Ruth Built”, despite winning 26 World Series there.
The time for a new Fenway is now.
Follow him on Twitter @aidanfromworc