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Thursday, June 14, 2001

Boston Globe Online / Study says new stadium could hurt Sox

The Save Fenway Park group wants to help Red Sox ownership make money. Right. All of Fenway Park’s quaintness can’t change one important fact: it’s outdated. At one time I thought Fenway Park should be saved. I changed my mind after visiting Camden Yards.

Jim Furtado Posted: June 14, 2001 at 02:10 PM | 14 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Darren Posted: June 14, 2001 at 03:15 PM (#69277)
In fairness to the Save Fenway Park group, they've offered more than one way to save Fenway in its current location at a considerably lower cost than a new stadium. What's wrong with a revamped Fenway that seats more people and has more luxury boxes and bigger seats?

Camden yards may be nice, but how's the new Comiskey looking these days?
   2. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: June 14, 2001 at 09:54 PM (#69278)
Yeah, let's just junk Fenway and build one more retro park with an upper deck several football fields set back from home plate, 1000 points of sound to distract you from the game, corporate luxury boxes which of course should be fully tax deductible, and whatever other features we can think of to drive non-millionaire fans away. Because the most important thing is that we don't do anything which might drive the Red Sox out of Boston. I'm sure that if Fenway isn't torn down, the new owners will just move the franchise to Charlotte. Mustn't offend the owners.

Of course, the current owners are doing a pretty good job themselves of jacking up ticket prices while pissing and moaning about their inability to stay competitive in such a li'l old run down park. Poor dears. Maybe they'd like to trade their franchise for the Pirates or Baltimore. Sure they would.
   3. JimFurtado Posted: June 14, 2001 at 11:28 PM (#69279)
Andy,

You'll have to excuse me, but I don't understand your point.
   4. Darren Posted: June 15, 2001 at 01:58 AM (#69280)
I can't speak for Andy, but what was the point of your original comment, Jim?

"The Save Fenway Park group wants to help Red Sox ownership make money. Right."
   5. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: June 15, 2001 at 03:08 AM (#69281)
Actually, Darren speaks for me pretty well. I would make two comments:(1) Fenway should be re-habbed, not torn down; and (2) these pretty retro parks, including Camden Yards, are generally of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich, but unfortunately paid for by everyone else. Having been to hundreds of games in Memorial Stadium and scores of games in Camden Yards, I'd take a night in Memorial anytime. I do admit the food is better in the new park, and if you're an aesthete (and aren't we all), Camden Yards is much prettier than Memorial when viewed from a blimp. The main problem with CY and most other new parks is that most of their upper decks have the approximate vantage point of a blimp.
   6. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: June 15, 2001 at 12:25 PM (#69282)
Here's a quote from an article in today's Wall Street Journal which notes a 20% drop since 1997 in the number of children playing baseball:

"Over time, things like rising ticket prices, longer games and more late-night broadcasts of playoffs and World Series games have eaten away at the popularity of pro baseball with youngsters."

Assuming that anyone in charge of baseball cares about this drop in American kids' interest in their sport, it is interesting to note the coalition of interests aligned against seriously addressing these three issues.

On the first issue, players and owners both--as shown by their actions--are in favor of higher ticket prices. For an obvious reason: More money for them.

On the second issue, the owners and players are joined in their support of longer games by the TV folks (more commercial time), the umpires (don't tell us what rules to enforce, bub), and various writers who seem to think that if a two hour game is good, then a four hour game must be twice as good. Since they can sleep late the next morning, what's a midnight ending to them?

And on the third issue, late-starting October games, the operating assumption is simply this: Far more important to lure early-inning West Coast viewers than keep late-inning East Coast kids and people who actually have to work the next day. More bucks, bro. Sorry about those kids. Since this is a trend which began with the 4th game of the 1971 World Series, there isn't much use in trying to claim that there is anyone in charge who even sees this as an issue.

So how to bring kids back to the game? Why, give them cool music between pitches and more stadiums with luxury boxes. That'll win em back. And that Emperor isn't really naked, boys--that's just the newest hip-hop look.
   7. scruff Posted: June 15, 2001 at 01:23 PM (#69283)
Andy, I agree with you 100% on the upper deck thing. I won't sit up there at any of these new stadiums. I went to new Comiskey back in 1993 and I couldn't believe how high it was. I had been in the upper deck at Wrigley earlier in the day (rare day-night Wrigley-Comiskey scheduled) and couldn't believe the difference. If you are ever in Philly, just look at the F-U Center next to the Spectrum, it's about twice as high. They have TWO levels of luxury boxes below the upper deck there.

There won't be another stadium built where the upper deck is a better place to watch a game than on a TV, and that is a shame. I understand money talks, but it's unfortunate that it has to be this way, and there is no way that I would ASK for that as a fan. Not if I had a place that is already a great place to watch a game (and yes, I've been to Fenway a few times), and had the history to boot.

My favorite stadium that I've been to, believe it or not was the Mistake by the Lake in Cleveland. Went on a Sunday afternoon on that same trip in 1993 (the last year of the park), sat under the overhang about 40 rows behind 1B there were about 50,000 there (really, and the team still sucked) and it felt like a carnival. I couldn't see popups over the player's heads (because of the overhang) and it was still a great place to watch a game. The atmosphere was great, it felt like I was back in 1930. The paint was peeling, etc., but it had character. As nice as they are, I don't get that same feel in the new retro parks.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for moving with the times. PNC Park is a beautiful place to watch baseball. Sure if I had Montreal's cavernous park, or the Metrodome (where I've also been, for football only though, couldn't imagine watching baseball from the upper deck there); or a non-memorable place like old Arlington Stadium; or one of the 1950's parks like County Stadium (where I've also been) that was nice enough but symetrical and not very noteworthy in it's own right; or a place like the Vet or Three Rivers which are nice enough and clean enough but sterile enough that you could perform major surgery there, I could see wanting a cool new retro park, especially one outdoors with grass.

But to replace Tiger Stadium, or Wrigley, or Yankee, or Fenway seems insane to me. Why go retro when you already have the real thing? These stadiums aren't crumbling, save a stray beam falling every once in awhile in the Bronx :). Can anyone say Comerica is a better place to watch a game than Tiger Stadium (been there too), which was a great place to watch baseball, save the neighborhood. But isn't Comerica right down the road? If they had moved to a better neighborhood that'd be one thing, but other than that, where was the complaint with Tiger Stadium? After Fenway, Wrigley and Yankee Stadium, DODGER STADIUM is the oldest one left, which is pretty amazing.

They remodeled Yankee Stadium, and while I'd love be able to go and see what it was like when Ruth and DiMaggio and Mantle played there (they could have at least left that old blue-green color on the seats and walls, they didn't HAVE to go with the bright blue), at least it's still the same place, it was a fair compromise. A remodeled Fenway makes all the sense in the world, and is much more responsible financially than building a new place. I have no issue w/using taxpayer money for a stadium when necessary (beats another museum at least), I just don't think it's necessary in Boston. I can't believe anyone with a great old park, with history and character would ask for a park with an upper deck that is high enough that you pass through heaven on the way up. That's a steep price to pay for Boog's BBQ and a nicer bathroom.
   8. JimFurtado Posted: June 15, 2001 at 05:44 PM (#69285)
Before I forget, here's a link to the Save Fenway Park web site..

Answering Darren:

I question studies financed by people who support a particular viewpoint. Since the study quoted in the article was funded by the Save Fenway group and the Center for Study of Responsive Law (a nonprofit Ralph Nader organization), you'll have to excuse me for being skeptical about the conclusions of their study.

Fenway Park is a better place to watch a ball game than a lot of other stadiums. It's a fantastic place *if*:
   9. Darren Posted: June 15, 2001 at 07:16 PM (#69286)
Thanks for clearing up your viewpoint Jim.

I think most of your problems with Fenway would be solved by the rennovation plans. I certainly agree that larger seasts with more legroom are a top priority.

So far, I think the Save Fenway folks have presented the more compelling case. Any talk of moving the Sox seems to involve a $500 million + cost, a big portion of it going to taxpayers.

You have to give the Save Fenway group some credit too. They aren't just complaining and petitioning to save the park. They've proposed two different plans by which Fenway could be updated, and presented research, such as the study above, to support their viewpoint.
   10. Darren Posted: June 15, 2001 at 07:17 PM (#69287)
Forgot one thing, Jim. Your complaints about ticket, food, and concession prices are not going to be solved by a new park or a rennovation.
   11. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: June 16, 2001 at 09:41 AM (#69290)
David has said the secret word. In the Griffith Stadium of my recent past (well, it seems that way), there were perhaps 100-200 pillars which resulted in at most 1000-2000 obstructed view seats. (This is for sake of argument; there probably weren't really that many.)

In order to eliminate these seats in every stadium built since 1954, the upper decks have been cantilevered (sp?), with a resulting tradeoff where 100% of the UD fans are moved far away from the action in return for the extra seats not placed behind pillars---seats which were only occupied during sellouts. This is the sort of "tradeoff" which perhaps better than anything symbolizes the relationship between people who design, build, and own stadiums, and the people who actually watch games there. In other words, the humper and the humpee.
   12. JimFurtado Posted: June 16, 2001 at 02:01 PM (#69291)
David,

I mentioned expense for tickets and parking, I don't have a problem with the price of concessions at the park. The cheapest tickets at Fenway are located in the deepest part of the bleachers and cost $18. That's too much for the vantage point. Parking costs $25.00 (as of last September).

My main problem with the park is convenience. The park is not comfortable. There are not enough concession stands or bathrooms. Parking is scarce. The traffic around the park is horrible.

Simply building or remodeling the ballpark in Fenway won't address all the parks problems. Building a new park with larger seating capacity on a bigger footprint could help things. Since it's readily apparant that building or remodeling in the current location will be extremely expensive, the Red Sox should build the new park at an alternative location.

Concerning the historic nature of Fenway ...
   13. scruff Posted: June 17, 2001 at 03:59 PM (#69292)
For anyone who complains about the cost of parking at ANY major league stadium, a simple solution:

Park a few blocks further away and walk. I've never been to a park that didn't have somewhere decent to park for free or next to nothing within 10-15 blocks of the stadium. If you don't like that, drive to a train station and take the train in. To me this is not justification for tearing down a historical stadium.
   14. Cris E Posted: June 18, 2001 at 04:31 PM (#69293)
1. Pillars : I completely agree. Stick 'em in and sell some obstructed seats for a few bucks less. There aren't enough affordable seats in the new parks anyway. It'll make the upper altitude seats worth what they're charging by moving them so much closer to the game.

2. Fenway: I used to think the saving Fenway was a big deal, but then I realized that my attendance once every five to seven years didn't give me much voice in the arguement. If someone like Jim has to sit there on a regular basis (and pay those prices) he should get to make the call, and more and more of the locals are in favor of a replacement so long as it ends up cheaper than the big dig.

3. Cost: I don't mind paying a lot for baseball a few times a year as long as I see good quality ball in a resonably enjoyable atmosphere. That usually precludes trips to the Metrodome, but I'll go in for the right team. I no longer go to see bad teams and I don't buy cheap seats because it does cost a lot even when you try to go cheap. To ask for the kind of money BOS charges you should expect the right to be either comfortably entertained or watching world series quality ball, or maybe both. I'd be in Pawtucket too. It's what my brother does.

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