Fenway Park - Boston Red Sox
Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.29
4 Jersey Street
Boston, MA 02215
Year Opened: 1912
The Lyric Little Bandbox
The Boston Red Sox bill Fenway Park as “America’s Most Beloved Ball Park”. Still going strong after over a century of 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.
Fenway Park takes its name from its neighborhood. 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.
Established in 1901 as the Boston Americans, The Red Sox are one of Major League Baseball’s oldest and most successful teams, winning 9 World Series on top of 14 American League Pennants, 10 AL East Division titles, and 8 more Wild Card berths. 39 former Red Sox players are enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Food & Beverage 5
Even though Fenway Park has taken great strides in recent years to keep up with the trends of establishing gourmet options within their concession offerings, most longtime Red Sox fans will insist your best bet for food at Fenway Park are the numerous sausage carts that surround the ballpark. If it’s your first trip to Boston, this is where you should stop for that authentic Fenway experience. The prices are cheaper than on the inside, and the quality is, dare I say it, better.
That’s not to say there are no quality options within Fenway Park. The team takes over Jersey Street starting ninety minutes before the first pitch. Here fans will find several stands offering some of Fenway Park’s more unique offerings, including El Tiante’s Grille, The Fenway Fish Shack, and A Taste of Boston, which features a rotation of local vendors.
Concession stands are seemingly crammed into every nook and cranny of the ballpark, with the majority of concessions located on the Big Concourse in the right field. In addition to classic ballpark fare, hungry Sox fans will find plenty of locally sourced food on the menu. Fans looking for gluten-free, vegetarian, or vegan offerings will be able to find plenty from which to choose. A complete Fenway Park concessions guide can be found here.
The 2023 season did not see many changes to the concessions menu, but a few notable items made their debut, including Avocado Fries, crabcake sandwiches, maple bacon burgers, and spicy watermelon margaritas.
Coca-Cola products are featured at Fenway Park (An insider’s tip from Stadium Journey: If you plan to visit Fenway Park more than once this season, purchase a souvenir cup. They come with free refills all season long).
As you might imagine, the beer game is strong at Fenway Park. Sam Adams is the official beer of the Red Sox, so you can find all of their outstanding brews served here alongside other popular national brands. Visiting fans looking for local microbrews will be more than satisfied with the available choices.
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 is loaded with features designed to entertain both the casual and the die-hard fan. Outside the ballpark are several statues of Red Sox greats Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, and “The Teammates.” Retired number banners, World Series banners, and American League pennants line the exterior of the ballpark along Van Ness and Jersey Streets. Both Lansdowne Street and Jersey Street are mobbed with fans hours before the first pitch.
Jersey Street is closed off to traffic before games and is loaded with concession stands, live bands, and the Red Sox Team Store. The old ticket booths here have been transformed into exhibits featuring memorabilia from each of the Red Sox World Series championship teams. Also located here is the old bullpen buggy, a popular spot for photos.
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. Today the concourse is much more passable, bright, and modern. Concessions, souvenirs, displays, and activities for young and old alike are packed into virtually every corner of Fenway Park.
With families in mind, the team has created an exclusive entrance just for kids (Gate K, located in the center field). From the third through the seventh inning, Wally’s Clubhouse offers kid-friendly entertainment and activities. Virtual reality booths, speed pitch booths, and a life-size replica of David Ortiz made out of Legos are just a few of the attractions here.
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. In their efforts to upgrade the Fenway Experience, the Red Sox have expanded their augmented-reality offerings throughout the ballpark.
There’s no doubt about it: the neighborhood around Fenway Park is changing. Fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic and skyrocketing rents in the area, Fenway institutions such as The Baseball Tavern, Boston Beer Works, and The Fenmore Grill are no more. Heck, even the Hotel Buckminster right up the street from the ballpark is closed. But that does not mean the Fenway neighborhood is in decline.
Longtime visitors to Fenway Park may bemoan the fact that the area has become more upscale and many of the legendary dive bars and holes in the wall have disappeared, but Fenway-area favorites such as the Cask ‘N Flagon, Game On!, The Bleacher Bar and Loretta’s Last Call still draw big crowds before and after Red Sox games. You’ll find excellent dining choices around Fenway no matter which direction you travel.
Boston’s small geographic footprint and expansive public transportation system mean that even if you do not stay right near the ballpark, it is still easy to get to. Visitors who would rather stay nearby will find Hotel Commonwealth, Residence Inn by Marriot, and The Verb excellent choices in the shadows of Fenway Park.
Visiting fans interested in seeing more than just a ballgame will find much to do in Boston. Explore the Freedom Trail, a walking trail through the city that links several historical locations. Tours of Boston Harbor are well worth a look, as is Faneuil Hall, a colonial meetinghouse that 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.
The Red Sox have had several down seasons since their most recent World Series win in 2018. While Red Sox fans are known for their dedication to their team, attendance has dropped a bit in recent years. For the 2023 season, the Red Sox are averaging just under 33,000 fans per game. Sellouts are still common, so be sure to purchase your tickets in advance.
One downside to Fenway Park’s status as an attraction in itself is that a portion of every crowd is there to be seen as much as to take in the action. 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 hardcore fan. Despite the less-than-stellar reputation of some Boston fans, you can feel comfortable bringing the whole family to Fenway. A strong turnout from visiting fans is a common sight, given Fenway’s status as a destination spot.
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-90s, 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. Fenway Park can be as loud in April as it is in August.
Getting around Boston can be difficult even on a good day, and driving to Fenway is no exception. Every Bostonian has their own “secret” way to get to Fenway Park, and no two are alike. Every one of the 4.87 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. Making your trip to Fenway even more difficult in recent times is the random closure of certain streets, designed to ease egress from parking garages but which have resulted in new and unfamiliar traffic patterns.
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, 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 that 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 traveling by bus, subway, train, or even boat.
During the John Henry regime, the Red Sox continually updated and modernized this historic park, adding new seating and concession areas in previously unimagined places. It makes Fenway Park an interesting mix of old and new features, cramped quarters and spacious gathering areas, obstructed view seats, and some of the best views in the Major Leagues.
Return on Investment 3
Going to Fenway Park has always been an expensive proposition. Given the park’s small capacity and the team’s incredible popularity, it’s a supply vs. demand graph comes to life.
The 2023 Fan Cost Index ranks Fenway Park as the most expensive ballpark to visit in all of Major League Baseball. According to the FCI, a family of four will spend $396.16 at a Red Sox game. Driving this ranking are Fenway’s high ticket prices, parking charges, and concession prices.
That being said, there are ways to make a trip to Fenway more affordable.
-Check out various ticket-resale websites for cheaper tickets.
-Avoid the expensive neighborhood parking by taking the T to Fenway Park.
-As mentioned before, a souvenir soda cup features unlimited refills throughout the season. –
-Grabbing a bite to eat at one of the sausage carts that line the streets around Fenway Park enhances the Fenway experience and saves a few dollars.
Fenway Park is a cashless facility. Even the ever-present Fenway hawkers are equipped with cashless point-of-sale devices. Fenway Park’s bag policy is less restrictive than other major league facilities, but check the ballpark website for particulars.
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.
Located by Gate B on Van Ness Street are statues honoring Red Sox legends Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, and “The Teammates” (Johnny Pesky, Bobby Doerr, Dom DiMaggio, and Ted Williams).
Historical touches abound throughout Fenway Park, starting with the lone red seat in the 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. Check out the New Tony Conigliaro display near the Big Concourse.
The Green Monster, Pesky’s Pole, Wally and Tessie, Sweet Caroline, Fenway Franks, the Big Concourse, Patriots Day, Dirty Water, Fenway Farms, 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…
How old is Fenway Park? It opened the same week that the Titanic sank. While other cities are building billion-dollar complexes to replace ballparks that are only 20 years old, in Boston they are simply finding new ways to put modern touches on this classic diamond.
Fenway Park is not perfect. It’s cramped, it’s crowded, and it’s expensive. Yes, some seats sit right behind poles and some seats face the wrong way. Still, ask any ballpark aficionado where they would like to see a game, and Fenway Park will likely be among their top choices. Fenway Park’s mix of historical touches, quirky features, and modern comforts is unmatched anywhere. Other cities try again and again to find the magic formula that has existed in Boston for over a century.
Simply put, Fenway Park is the standard against which all other ballparks are measured.