Fenway Park – Boston Red Sox
The Lyric Little Bandbox
The Boston Red Sox rightfully bill Fenway Park as “America’s Most Beloved Ball Park.” Still going strong after over 100 years in use, no ballpark has been more honored in film, literature, and song than Fenway Park. With its numerous quirky angles and unique features, Fenway Park has been often imitated, but never duplicated. Fenway’s old-school charms consistently rank it near the top of any ballpark chaser’s list, and it has become one of the biggest tourist attractions in the city of Boston in its own right. Fenway Park is such an iconic venue that even casual baseball fans can recognize its unique design.
Established in 1901 as the Boston Americans, the Red Sox are one of major league baseball’s oldest and most successful teams, winning 9 division titles, 13 American League pennants and 6 World Series during their history. Thirty-six Red Sox alumni have been enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Food & Beverage 5
Fenway Park has never been at the forefront of the movement to bring gourmet foods to the ballpark, opting for tradition over fancy fare. However, the Red Sox are making efforts to keep up with the times.
For the 2018 season the Red Sox have named Sam Adams as the team’s official beer partner. The right field party deck has been re-christened the “Sam Deck” this year, and is open to all ticket holders. The Sam Deck features a lineup of the Boston beer company’s drafts and some new Sam Adams inspired concession items, including Savenor’s beer-braised short rib grilled cheese sandwiches and Sam ’76 beer battered chicken strips.
New for hungry Red Sox fans are edible cookie dough sundaes from Jane Dough. Savenor’s has developed new meatball subs, topped with marinara and mozzarella, and chicken tacos, filled with spicy pulled chicken, pico de gallo, pickled slaw and chipotle sour cream. Fans looking for healthier options can build their own salads on the Big Concourse, using vegetables grown right at Fenway Park’s rooftop garden.
Fancy food aside, any self-respecting Sox fan will tell you that the best food to be found at Fenway Park is found outside the ballpark from the many vendors who set up shop all around the place. Their portable carts offer a variety of products ranging from sausage and pepper sandwiches, hot dogs, and cheesesteaks to grilled chicken, snacks and beverages at prices a fraction of the cost found inside Fenway.
Some of the ballpark’s more unique concession items can be found on the newly renamed Jersey Street. El Tiante’s Grille features sausages and Cuban sandwiches. On certain nights, Red Sox legend Luis Tiant shows up at the stand to sign autographs. Summertime Grille offers sausages, cheesesteaks and footlong hot dogs. The Fenway Fish Shack is the place to go for fish sandwiches or lobster rolls. The Taste of Boston features a rotation of local favorite vendors.
If the food on Jersey Street doesn’t do it for you, there are concession stands crammed into virtually every corner of Fenway Park. Standard ballpark fare can be found throughout the park, from the overrated Fenway Frank to local favorites from Regina’s Pizza and Tasty Burger.
Fans looking to soothe a sweet tooth can find numerous ice cream stands, along with various snacks at virtually every stand. Those not partaking in adult beverages would be wise to check out a souvenir sized soda. For $8.25 you get unlimited refills of Coca-Cola products, making this potentially the best bargain in the ballpark.
Fans looking for healthier ballpark fare should check out the deli stands offering fresh wraps, melts, and salads, or the gluten-free stands, which offer pizzas, hot dogs, and baked goods for those fans seeking such an alternative. If you are looking for menu items off of the beaten path, Legal Seafood clam chowder, sushi, burritos, and vegetarian options are available throughout the ballpark. A complete concessions guide can be found here.
In addition to Sam Adams, Fenway Park boasts a wide selection of beer, from national brands such as Budweiser and Coors to local craft brews from Wachusett and Harpoon. Beware, the Red Sox charge the highest beer prices in the Major Leagues, with small beers starting at $7.75.
It’s hard to top the game day atmosphere at Fenway Park, which has become one of Boston’s top tourist destinations regardless of whether or not the Sox are in town. Fans flock from all corners of New England and beyond to spend a day at the ballpark. Taking in a game at Fenway has become a must for anyone traveling to Massachusetts.
Fenway Park opens its gates 90 minutes before first pitch, but the buzz around the ballpark begins much earlier than that. Fans fill the numerous eating establishments lining Lansdowne and Boylston Streets long before game time, enjoying a pregame meal or an adult beverage or two. Vendors set up shop at various points around the ballpark, selling food, souvenirs and programs.
Yawkey Way has returned to its original name, Jersey Street, and is closed off to public traffic at this time. In addition to the concession stands located here, entertainment is offered in the form of live music and performance artists. Younger fans will be drawn to the antics of Big-League Brian, who walks on stilts playing catch and interacting with the kids, as well as the face-painting and fast pitch booths located here. Older fans may gravitate towards the booth from which the NESN or ESPN crews broadcast their pregame shows. Also located on Jersey Street is perhaps the largest souvenir store in the majors, where Red Sox alumni sign autographs before every game.
Red Sox ownership claims that they have invested over $300 million into Fenway Park since purchasing the team in 2002. Longtime Sox fans can tell you all about how cramped, dark, and dank the concourse used to be. Fans visiting Fenway today will enter into a wide, bright, infinitely more modern concourse. Concessions, souvenirs, displays and activities for young and old alike are packed into virtually every inch of Fenway Park.
Red Sox ownership has taken great strides in recent years to make Fenway Park a more attractive place for families. With families in mind, the team has created an exclusive entrance just for kids (Gate K, located adjacent to Gate B in center field). From the third through seventh inning, Wally’s Clubhouse offers kid-friendly entertainment and activities. Check out the new virtual reality booths here on the Kids’ Concourse.
Of course, all this is just a precursor for what awaits fans as they climb the ramps from the concourse to the seating area. Even seasoned visitors to Fenway often stop in awe as they reach the top of the ramp and get their first glimpse of the ballpark. Balancing the old-school mentality of the long-time Red Sox fan with the need of younger fans for constant stimulation is a tricky act, but the Red Sox do a good job of working out these disparate goals. Video boards throughout the park keep fans engaged and entertained between innings while respecting Fenway traditions.
Fenway Park takes its name from the neighborhood it is located. The term “fens” is an Old English term for a marshy area. If you walk a few blocks southeast of the ballpark you will find yourself in the Back Bay Fens, one of these marshy areas.
Today, the Fenway neighborhood is one of the top destinations in Boston, primarily because of the ballpark. The area around Fenway Park is loaded with countless restaurants and nightclubs.
Lansdowne Street, located in the shadows of the Green Monster, is packed from one end of the street to the other with some of Boston’s most popular nightclubs, such as the House of Blues and Tequila Rain. The Cask ‘N Flagon, named the top baseball bar in the country by ESPN, anchors the street, and the Bleacher Bar, located underneath the center field bleachers, offers spectacular views of the ballpark. If you are looking to avoid the crowds, check out the restaurants at the far end of Lansdowne Street, such as the Lansdowne Pub and Loretta’s Last Call.
A block away from Fenway Park beyond right field is Boylston Street, another road loaded with popular restaurants. Long-time fans pack The Baseball Tavern, known for their chicken wings and pub fare. Restaurants including Sweet Caroline’s and Tony C.’s continue the Red Sox theme.
Fans arriving well before game time can find plenty to keep themselves occupied in nearby Kenmore Square, where many shops and yes, more restaurants are located. Boston Beer Works, known for their many craft beers, is located right across from Fenway Park on Brookline Ave. A couple of blocks from Fenway Park is Wahlburger’s, owned by local celebrity Mark Wahlberg.
Fans interested in exploring more than just Boston’s baseball scene will find much to do here. Explore the Freedom Trail, a walking trail through the city that links several historical locations. Tours of the Boston Harbor are well worth a look, as is Faneuil Hall, a colonial meeting house which has been converted into a shopping and tourist destination. Museums, galleries, and tours of all kinds are located throughout the city, making Boston one of the top tourist destinations in the country.
Red Sox fans are known for their dedication to their team, and they pack Fenway game after game. Even though the Red Sox don’t always sell out Fenway Park, that does not mean that tickets have suddenly become easy to find. If traveling from out of town, be sure to get your tickets in advance, or be prepared to pay outrageous ticket broker or scalper prices. If looking for last-minute tickets, check out the scalp-free zone on outside Gate C on Lansdowne Street.
One downside to Fenway Park’s status as an attraction in itself means that a portion of every crowd is there to be seen as much as to take in the action. You will undoubtedly see more casual fans at Fenway than in other parks, and the crowd here seems to be in constant motion, roaming the aisles and concourses throughout the game, which can be very distracting and aggravating to the hard core fan.
Some Fenway traditions have taken on a life of their own, such as the singing of Sweet Caroline in the middle of the 8th inning, which has been happening on-and-off since the mid-90’s, and at every game since 2002. Make no mistake, Boston fans are into the game to a greater degree than just about any other fan base. The atmosphere at Fenway Park is as electric in April as it is in August.
As anyone who has ever tried to get around the crooked, cramped streets of the city of Boston will tell you, leave your car at home if at all possible. If you must drive to Fenway Park, be sure to give yourself plenty of extra time to get where you are going. Delays, traffic jams, and seemingly endless construction projects are daily facts of life for Bostonians. Be sure to take along a local who knows their way around the city. You are going to need their help.
Every Bostonian has their own “secret” way to get to Fenway Park, and no two are alike. Every one of the 4.73 million citizens of greater Boston believes their route is the quickest. Simply put, they are all wrong. And no, I am not going to tell you my secret route to Fenway.
The best method for getting to Fenway Park is to take public transportation. The MBTA, or “T,” as it is known locally, provides several different methods for baseball fans to get to the game. Most fans will take the subway, as the B, C, and D versions of the Green Line stop at Kenmore Station, located a short five minute walk from Fenway Park.
If traveling from the western suburbs of Boston, take the commuter rail, which stops right across the street from Fenway Park at Yawkey Station. There are similar trains which travel into the city from the northern or southern suburbs, but which will require a transfer or two on the subway system to arrive at the aforementioned Kenmore station.
If taking a bus is more your speed, several city routes stop within a short walk of Fenway Park. Routes 8, 9, 19, 60 and 65 stop at the corner of Jersey Street and Brookline Avenue. In addition, route 55 stops on the back side of Fenway, at the corner of Ipswich and Boylston Streets.
The MBTA website lists all public transportation schedules and accompanying fares, whether travelling by bus, subway, train, or even boat.
Renovations that have occurred throughout Fenway Park since the John Henry ownership group took over in 2002 have resulted in improvements in all areas of the ballpark. Although there are still many seats in the park that have obstructed views, or that are facing in the wrong direction, the flow and comfort of the stadium is greater than it has ever been. The vintage 1920’s seats in the grandstand are still too small for anyone approaching six feet tall or 200 pounds, but the Red Sox have maximized the space available here with several new, modern seating areas in the upper deck. Concourses are much less congested, and access to bathrooms is much improved.
Return on Investment 2
The Red Sox have raised ticket prices again for the 2018 season by an average of 2.5%. Buying a ticket will cost one to five dollars more per seat this season. This adds to what was already the third most expensive average ticket in the Major Leagues ($102.09). The Red Sox have the second most expensive overall Fan Cost Index ($345.88) in the majors. Be careful when buying the less expensive tickets at Fenway Park. Many cheaper seats feature obstructed views, face in random directions, or are quite a distance from the action.
Contributing to the high price of catching a game at Fenway is the major league’s highest parking costs. The average lot within walking distance of the ballpark charges $45, with prices for certain lots hitting $60. Fenway Park also charges the highest price per ounce for beer, as beer prices start at $7.75.
Luckily, there are ways to attend a game at Fenway Park and save a few dollars. The best way to get to the ballpark is to take the T to Fenway. Not only will you save yourself the aggravation of Boston traffic, you will save on the exorbitant parking rates. The T accesses almost every corner of the city and beyond, and a one-way fare is only $2.75.
The Red Sox offer variable pricing for their 2018 schedule, meaning weekday games are less expensive than weekend and premium (Yankee) games. Also, there is a very active secondary market for Red Sox games, with bargains to be found for those who look hard enough.
Check out Parking Panda for some of the best parking options for the game. Use the promo code STADIUMJOURNEY10 for 10% off your first transaction.
Any ballpark that has been in use for over a century is bound to have had a memorable moment or two on its resume. The Red Sox proudly display their best moments throughout the ballpark, in manners both obvious and subtle. New visitors to Fenway should earmark some extra time to take in as much of the ballpark as possible.
Banners and plaques commemorating Red Sox pennants and World Series championships are present both inside and outside the ballpark. Flags honoring every Hall of Famer to play in Boston line the outside of the park along Van Ness Street. Red Sox retired numbers are hung along the right field façade and again along the outside of the ballpark. David Ortiz’ number 34 joined the legendary lineup in 2017.
Many fans gather at the rear of the ballpark by Gate B to take pictures with statues honoring Red Sox legends Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Johnny Pesky, Bobby Doerr, and Dom Dimaggio.
Historical touches abound throughout Fenway Park, starting with the lone red seat in right field commemorating the longest home run ever hit at the ballpark to the plaques located throughout the park highlighting milestones and important features of the park. Even long-time visitors to Fenway can find something new if they explore the grounds long enough.
On the roof of Fenway Park, out of sight from the majority of visitors, is a secret garden. This garden, dubbed “Fenway Farms,” began in 2015 in collaboration with local farms. All of the vegetables and herbs grown in this 1,800 square foot rooftop garden are used in dishes served throughout Fenway. The club predicts that they will grow close to 7,500 pounds of organic fresh vegetables annually.
The Green Monster, Pesky’s Pole, Wally and Tessie, Sweet Caroline, Fenway Franks, the Big Concourse, Patriots Day, Dirty Water, the Citgo Sign, Kenmore Square, Lego Papi, Lansdowne Street, the triangle, the bullpen buggy, the street vendors; the list of things to see and do at Fenway Park goes on and on…
In an era where cities are building new ballparks to replace diamonds that are only 25 years old, it is refreshing to see a classic park not only still being used, but thriving into its second century of existence. Red Sox officials estimate that Fenway Park will be a viable home for the Red Sox for another 30 to 40 years. Fenway Park’s mix of historical touches, quirky features, and modern comforts is unmatched anywhere. There’s a reason so many cities keep trying to re-invent the wheel: they are all trying to find the magic formula that has existed in Boston for over a century.
Fenway Park is not perfect. It’s cramped, it’s crowded, it’s expensive, it has seats with some horrible obstructions and some with even worse sight lines. Still, ask any ballpark aficionado where they would like to see a game, and Fenway Park will likely be among their top choices.
Simply put, Fenway Park is the standard against which all other ballparks are measured.
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Latest Crowd Reviews
Fenway Park is not perfect. It’s cramped, it’s crowded, it’s expensive, it has seats with some horrible obstructions and some with even worse sightlines. Still, ask any ballpark aficionado where they would like to see a game, and Fenway Park will likely be among their top choices.
One of three ballparks in the professional levels that is over 100-years-old. It is as advertised, but some of the seating in the outfield is not too comfortable. I am not sure what the Red Sox would be without Fenway or what Fenway would be without the Red Sox.
Hard not to be moved by the experience of a Red Sox game at Fenway an iconic venue, in a beautiful city. While the viewing experience is not always pristine due to the infamous obstructions throughout the park, this is a sacrifice made in the name of history. I know some people cringe at the singing of Sweet Caroline, but I thought it was fantastic. Expensive and access not the best, but I was happy to spend the money.
In an era where cities are building new ballparks to replace diamonds that are only 25 years old, it is refreshing to see a classic park not only still being used, but thriving in the 21st century. Fenway Park’s mix of historical touches, quirky features, and modern comforts is unmatched anywhere. There’s a reason so many cities keep trying to re-invent the wheel: they are all trying to find the magic formula that has existed in Boston for over a century.