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  • Writer's picturePaul Baker

Fenway Park - Boston Red Sox


Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.29

Fenway Park

4 Jersey Street

Boston, MA 02215



Year Opened: 1912

Capacity: 37,755


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. 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 4

 

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 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, including the Big Concourse in right field, Fenway’s answer to the food court. In addition to classic ballpark fare, hungry Sox fans will find plenty of locally-sourced food, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan offerings. A complete Fenway Park concessions guide can be found here.

 

Among the new items for the 2024 season are one-pound chocolate chip cookies, Boston Crème Pies, chicken and waffle bowls and togarashi clam rolls.

 

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.

 

Atmosphere 5

 

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 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 to 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 center field). From the third through 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.

 

Neighborhood 5

 

There’s no doubt about it: the neighborhood around Fenway Park is changing. Fenway institutions such as The Baseball Tavern, Boston Beer Works and The Fenmore Grill are no more, victims of “progress” and skyrocketing area rents. 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, Sweet Cheeks Q, The Bleacher Bar and The Landsdowne Pub 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 means 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.  

 

Fans 5

 

Even though the Red Sox have struggled in recent years, coming off consecutive last place finishes, over 31,000 fans pass through the turnstiles each night. This figure is sure to increase as the weather warms. Red Sox fans are simply some of the most dedicated in the big leagues.

 

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. A Fenway crowd is in constant motion, roaming the aisles and concourses throughout the game, which can be very 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. This 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. Fenway Park can be as loud in April as it is in August. 

 


Access 3

 

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 4.9 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, 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.

 

During the John Henry regime the Red Sox have 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 sightlines 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 come to life.

 

The 2023 Fan Cost Index ranked 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 almost $400 at a Red Sox game. Driving this ranking are Fenway’s high ticket prices, parking charges and concession prices, many of which have gone up in 2024.

 

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.

-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.


 

Extras 5

 

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 schedule 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 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. The Red Sox do a great job of creating new content year after year.

 

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…

 

Final Thoughts

 

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.

 

Follow Paul Baker’s stadium journeys on Twitter and Instagram @PuckmanRI.



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