Fenway Park - the most historic ballpark in all of baseball, the oldest ballpark in baseball, the smallest ballpark in baseball—is time to go the way of the old Yankee Stadium. It's time for the Red Sox to move on from America's most beloved ballpark. It's time for the Red Sox to get a new stadium.
Don't get me wrong, I love Fenway Park. I love the atmosphere. I love the fact that it's my favorite team's ballpark and that there isn't a better place to go to watch a baseball game...10 years ago.
Look, I appreciate what the current Red Sox ownership has done to Fenway Park. They have dramatically improved the stadium (built in 1912) so much that [Red Sox president] Larry Lucchino recently said "with normal maintenance, will be around for another 50 years."
At the time Red Sox principle owner John Henry's group bought the Red Sox in 2001, they made the right call by deciding to improve Fenway rather than build a new stadium. However, that was eight years ago, and times have since changed.
Every summer I make it a point to travel to see a new baseball stadium. I have seen games in 12 different parks (out of a possible 30).
The majority of the stadiums I have seen are relatively new. The newer ones I have seen are, Coors Field (Rockies), Miller Park (Brewers), Minute Maid Park (Astros), Petco Park (Padres), and AT&T Park (San Francisco).
It's true, not all those teams have been notoriously good, yet they draw fans based on the park, not the product on the field.
While none of the stadiums can compare in fan support or history to that of Boston or New York, these newer parks have so much more to offer, such as swimming pools, retractable roofs, and the opportunity to watch a game in a seat that once housed a factory!
The best thing about the newer parks is that they are bigger. While watching a game at Fenway, you're practically on top of the person next to you. Hell, Fenway doesn't even have cup-holders in the majority of it's seats, something even U.S Celluar Field (White Sox) has.
The worst part about Fenway has to be the left-field and right-field sideline seats. The way the seats are angled, you have to turn your head to see the pitchers mound. I know if I'm paying $50 for that seat, I don't want to come home with a stiff neck.
Unfortunately, the Boston Herald won't let me access Steve Buckley's article "Time to Let Fenway Go" to share some of his points with you. However, Eric from "Keep Your Sox On" responded to Buckley's column and disagreed with him, giving reasons why Fenway Park should be saved.
"The practical reason- Have you seen the economy recently? Think ticket prices at Fenway are bad now? Imagine what they'd be like if the ownership pulled a Steinbrenner and turned most of the park into luxury seating to recoup the losses of construction. In fact, that's probably an optimistic view, because even the Red Sox don't have the resources the Yankees can generate."
I don't think ticket prices are high now...I know they are. The reason ticket prices are so expensive is because Fenway is the smallest ballpark, holding 38,805 people, and that includes standing room.
They have to charge top dollar in order to make up for what the Yankees do, whose new stadium seats 51,000. We're talking a difference of 12,000 seats.
That's the reason ticket prices are so high. It's not because the ownership wants them this way. It is because they have to be this way.
With the demand in Boston for a competitive team at an all time high every year, when you house the smallest ballpark in the major league, the only way for ownership to get the most bang out of your buck is through high ticket prices.
The longer Fenway remains and the more other teams in the game improve, the more ticket prices are going to go up.
(If Eric wants to point out the fact that ticket prices didn't increase this year with the Rays improving, then I refer you to your own point...look at the economy. Eventually that will correct itself.)
A new ballpark, if anything, will lower ticket costs. A new ballpark can increase seat capacity a ton and will lower ticket prices. The ownership won't need to charge $30 for bleacher seats anymore when suddenly you have 20,000 more seats.
Why would ownership turn a new ballpark into "luxury seating to recoup the loss of construction"? They're going to make up that loss with the 20,000 extra seats they gained.
It was different for Steinbrenner. He's going from a stadium that seated 57,545 people to one that has 51,000. That's why he made the new stadium all "luxury seating" (if that's what Eric means).
Plus, last time I checked, you can still get bleacher seats at Yankee Stadium for $12 and grandstand seats for $20. That's cheaper then even standing room at Fenway Park.
Knowing how the Yankees are arguably the most popular team in baseball, if Steinbrenner really wanted to recoup construction costs, then why not sell those seats for higher when he knows people will buy them?
As for the second part of his argument, yes Fenway Park does have history and most of it isn't favorable to Boston. I don't know if he remembers this, but Fenway hasn't exactly been kind to the Red Sox throughout it's 97-year existence.
The Red Sox have one seven World Series titles in that ballpark. The Yankees won 26 at the old Yankee stadium.
Yankee Stadium has been the home of Babe Ruth, Thurman Munson, Mickey Mantle, Joe D, Lou Gehrig, and many more greats. Fenway has been the home to Ted Williams, but nobody other than Williams was as good as the above mentioned Yankees.
Now, let me ask a question, what ballpark has more history, Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park? No doubt it was Yankee Stadium. However, history didn't stop the Yankees from moving into a better ballpark, nor should it be an excuse for Boston.
As great as it is for Henry to not want to tear down history, if we all take our rose colored glasses off, we'll eventually see that Fenway Park doesn't have that much great history, especially not as much as Yankee stadium did.
Back when the ownership bought the group, the amount of competition in the game wasn't this good. That's why it made sense for them to keep Fenway.
However, with a stronger emphasis on scouting, more teams are starting to draft the right players and are starting to become competitive. With this being the trend now, even the Pirates will be good in a few years.
Fenway is only going to hurt the Red Sox in the long run. Eventually, as more and more teams improve, the only way for Boston to stay competitive is to continue to raise ticket prices in America's most beloved ballpark.
Till next time, party with your Sox on,