It’s unquestionably the single greatest place in the universe to watch a ballgame (second only, perhaps, to a dingy Chelsea couch nuzzled between Christina Applegate and Cameron Diaz). But does it need a modernizing makeover? Share in the drama as your two slightly alcoholic hosts duke it out the only way they can–with their words.
Denton: Red, I can’t believe we’re even having this conversation. Fenway stays. Forever. Tearing down the Holy Cathedral of Baseball to put up some modern-day abomination would be like tearing down the Statue of Liberty and replacing it with a Statue of Oprah. And you saw Planet of the Apes; nobody f@#ks with the Statue of Liberty.
Red: Listen, my love of Fenway Park is well documented. It’s the epicenter of our lifelong obsession with the Red Sox. Players come and go, but the Park is always there. That said, unless you’re sitting in the Monster Seats or next to Don O in the NESN booth, it is a tragically uncomfortable place to spend three hours, no matter how drunk you are–and I don’t skimp on the booze, professor.
Denton: Great! So let’s move it out to the 128 belt. That’d really enhance the Fenway Park experience.
Red: I’m not suggesting replacing it with some space-age monstrosity out in Waltham or Foxboro. I’d just like to see some large-scale expansion or enhancement in and around the current location. There was a great plan in place a few years ago that would have had the Park rebuilt a couple blocks over and extending down to the intersection of Brookline and Longwood where that D’Angelos is now. That plan called for keeping the old park intact as a public grounds, and a new Camden Yards-esque field right next door. Why can’t we have something like that?
Denton: But it wouldn’t be Fenway Park anymore. They’d have to raffle off naming rights to the highest bidder. Can you imagine catching a Sox game at Google Field or Dell Ballyard. That’s the day I become a rodeo fan.
Red: No way. They’d never change the name of the park, even if they rebuilt it on the moon. And between ticket sales and licensing, the team is a money-generating machine. The salad days and World Series titles we’re enjoying right now are the result of one thing–money. The team has money to spend on the Pedros and Mannys and Matsuzakas and Becketts of the world, and if you want to continue to have that kinda cash flow, another 20,000 seats to sell would be a good place to start. Also, with more seats, getting tickets to a game on a whim might not be the Herculean feat it is today.
Denton: And how much would those new seats cost if the owners have to make up their construction bills? You and I couldn’t get into the new park without taking hostages. You’d have Volvo-driving trophy wives and corporate douchebags filling the stands. Real fans wouldn’t get a sniff of the rarefied air inside the new stadium. They’d replace the Green Monster with the Vera Bradley Left Field Clutch. No Coke or Hood milk sponsorships; instead, the light towers would be festooned with Merlot bottles. And a Dunkin’ Donuts section? Forget it; that’s now the Starbucks Latte Lovers Loge. And Pesky Pole? Gone. The right field foul pole is now sponsored by Viagra. You do the math.
Red: See, I think there’s more risk of that happening without a new park. The primary reason that ticket prices keep rising is that the owners have to squeeze the most revenue they can out of the meager resources they have. That’s why they spend each winter stapling on new seating sections and splashing ads across the Green Monster. Unless they start letting Papi carry fans around in a burlap sack on his back, Yoda style, or add suspension-wire seats across the light towers, there’ll eventually be a point where they simply can’t add any new seating. And then you’ll need a second mortgage to take your family to a game.
Denton: So they add 20,000 seats. That makes Fenway a vastly superior place in your eyes?
Red: Well, that and spacing out the other 38,000. Look, I don’t ask for much when I go the ballpark. I understand I’m not getting a La-Z-boy recliner, unlimited prime rib and free lapdances from Tom Caron–unless, of course, I’m Jerry Remy. But wedging my 6-foot-2, 230 pound frame into a grandstand seat is like a kind of torture. Sure, the beer and nuclear franks help dull the pain, but there has to be a way to make the overall experience a bit more comfortable to anyone bigger than Davy Jones.
Denton: Or, perhaps, you could just drop a couple pounds?
Red: Not gonna happen, my friend. The beer and the Twinkies got their claws in me.
Denton: Well I’m sorry, but that’s part of the experience. If I’m not squished in a hard wooden seat facing the outfield with some guy’s back-flab spilling over onto my lap, I’m not at a Sox game. Give me the sticky floors and overflowing urinals any day over some guy of questionable sexual preference (not that there’s anything wrong with that) handing me a dainty towel after I empty my bladder of a few $15 beers. You go there to hear “Sweet Caroline” and “Dirty Water,” not Beethoven’s Fifth and the theme from Wall Street Weekly.
Red: I don’t know where you get the idea that renovating Fenway would instantly turn it into the Atrium Mall at Chestnut Hill. You keep the design, the charm, the general location… just expand it a few blocks and add some seating that doesn’t require you to perform the Kama Sutra with the person next to you every time you want to take a swig of beer. More seating options would mean you could have your sections for the I-know-nothing-about-the-Sox-but-my-company-just-bought-this-cool-suite types and perhaps add family sections with picnic tables, robots and Murray Wiggle on guitar.
Denton: And the people who actually own the property the Red Sox would need to expand Fenway? They just surrender it outright?
Red: Everyone has their price, baby.
Denton: Look, just keep things as they are. Think about walking up the ramp for the first time and seeing the incredible expanse of green and feeling the electricity and magic of Fenway. It probably felt the same for you the last time you were there. That’s the way it was for my dad and his dad and me and it’s the way I want it for my kids.