What’s 90 years old, 37 feet tall, and green? The “Green Monster” of course, the wall that extends from left to center field in Boston’s Fenway Park. Home to the Boston Red Sox, Fenway is the oldest active ballpark in the major leagues. While it lacks the creature comforts of most modern-day sports arenas, it more than makes up for it in character. What ballpark could be a better match for Red Sox fans, who lead chants of “Yankees suck” no matter what team they’re playing?
It’s tough not to appreciate the history of Fenway when entering the park. Finding your way to your seat takes you through the interior guts of the ballpark, reminding you with every step that you’re not in some shiny new retro-cool throwback ballpark (which has been all the rage for new ballparks built in the past 10 years) – nope, this is the real deal! The legends of baseball played here, looking out at the same stands you now sit in. Watching the hand-operated scoreboard on the Green Monster is a pleasure, and seeing the scores of other American League games get updated by hand reminds us of the days of late-summer pennant races before the internet and ESPN.
Threats to replace Fenway have surfaced in recent years – and with new ownership at the helm of the Red Sox it is likely to happen sooner rather than later. Proponents of a new arena point to the uncomfortable nature of the creaky old park, to the relatively low seating capacity (just under 38,000), and even to the “Curse of the Bambino” which hovers like a dark cloud over the entire Red Sox franchise. The rebuttal? Just take in a game at Fenway and try to convince yourself that this landmark is not baseball the way it was meant to be.
So while Red Sox fans may be among the unluckiest in the world when it comes to their team winning championships, they can count themselves as lucky whenever they go to a home game at their own personal historic landmark, Fenway Park. Many of us HBS students will only have two years in Boston – make sure you get out to Fenway to see what it’s all about.